So it was with interest that I went along to St Martin de Londres, to their little cinema (with very comfy seats) to listen to a talk given by one of the founders of the Institut Français de Yoga, François Lorin (b. 1941).
He talked for an hour about yoga, and why doing it is such a good idea. If I remember rightly (but don't quote me), the essence of yoga is that it unites the physical body with the mental. We have a tendency to think that our hands, for example, have nothing to do with our psyche. In yoga, you accept that your whole being is in close association - a oneness of mind and body.
The ultimate aim of yoga is to banish perturbing thoughts which have such a negative effect on our mental well-being. Both of these aims can be achieved by doing the postures, meditating, and learning how to breathe. When you concentrate on a movement, you are not letting those nasty, destructive little thoughts perturb you. There's a description of Ashtanga Yoga here.
I forgot to ask if François has got to the stage where he has an absence of perturbing thoughts, but I did ask if being a yogi is compatible with everyday life, and he said it was. Not that I have such lofty aspirations, but I've always wondered how they cope with the stuff the rest of us have to suffer. François told me the story of Patanjali (300BC) (who compiled the yoga sutras, one of the classical yoga philosophy texts), who would run around after his son in order to get him to study. So he obviously didn't spend all day looking like this:
My yoga group was at the conference too, and whilst speaking to another of the women, I learned that she was going to a talk on medicinal plants that afternoon. Oooh! As my DB was sick in bed, I had all the free time in the world, so decided it was just the thing for me and to go along too.
The talk took place in Clapiers' mediatèque and was given by Montpellier's Dr Laurent Chevallier who is a nutritionist, herbalist, botanist, and fervent believer in the healing power of plants. It was another absolutely fascinating talk from a man who is often on the radio, and thus totally at home before an audience.
|Dr Laurent Chevallier - doesn't he look a sweetie?|
1. To help sleep: take Elusanes Passiflore, available in pharmacies. Also aubépine (hawthorn) which relieves stress and is good for the heart.
2. If you're on statins, you'll need chardon marie (thistle) to help boost your liver.
3. Depression: if you've got the blues, take capsules of valériane, and/or millepertuis (St John's Wort).
4. Cellulite: take reine des près (meadowsweet); also for squeaky joints (I'll remember this one).
5. Immunity: to ward off colds and flu, take échinacée (echinacea), cassis (blackcurrant), and églantier (eglantine). I took propolis this year and have not gone down with the flu 'epidemic' that's swept across the whole country this winter. Fingers crossed...
Someone asked why there is no herbalist diploma in France because there is increasing interest in herbal medicine. Dr Chevallier told us that he was part of a group that wrote the material for a herbalist diploma, but that the whole thing has been shelved indefinitely. Why? Because the government doesn't want to open up a 'new' branch of medicine. After all the trouble they've had with osteopathes, they have decided not to provoke any more by developing an official herbalist medicine. This means that practitioners can tell you what to take, but they are not supposed to write it down, and, of course, the items won't be reimbursed.
Yet another potential job creating sector is squashed, something this government excels at!
NB Of course, if you're already on medication, you should always check with your doctor before taking herbal remedies.