It has been remarked, somewhat sarcastically, that I am Holistic Health’s best customer. And I am very fond of the place. But I certainly don’t avail myself of all their services – the prospect of colonic irrigation doesn’t thrill me, somehow, and although I’ve found acupuncture good for hayfever I’d go to a Chinese doctor for that, if I could just find a good one (any recommendations?).
There used to be a nice man on Bethnal Green Road – he had a makeshift consulting room with a shower curtain instead of a fabric one next to the bed, and once when I was lying there, face full of needles, I suddenly realised water was pouring through the ceiling from the upstairs neighbour’s bathtub. He just came in, set up a bucket and left me to it.
He also mixed up some incredibly pungent hayfever-curing remedy that I was supposed to boil and drink, but my flatmate (at that time) complained about the smell and banned me from using it. He used to sit and read, apart from when his wife came in and got him cleaning, and one time he told me he was working in a nearby hospital during the Tiananmen Square massacre and treated some of the protesters. But when I went past a few months ago a halal butcher had replaced his surgery, and they told me he’d moved to Peckham. Sigh.
Anyway, I would like to recommend three of the practitioners at Holistic Health – these are only the ones I have contacted, but I am sure the rest are good, too. If you are worn out you can make yourself feel a whole lot better by booking in for some of their time, especially if, like me, you’re one of those people that my doctor friend wearily refers to as the worried well (ie a mild hypochondriac).
Indira Nandha is a reflexologist and metamorphic practitioner. She is a natural healer and you only need to look at her glowing face to feel instantly better. Reflexology is the belief that different areas of the feet relate to various parts of the body, and although it sounds outlandish to pill-popping Westerners it is now available on the NHS, so sceptics should give it a try before they knock it. Indira also gives very relaxing Kundalini yoga classes on Thursday nights.
Here is her website sirilakshmi.com
Marianne Simonin runs meditation and yoga classes on Sunday mornings and Monday nights – Mondays are busy so you need to book. She is soft-spoken French woman and her yoga classes are the best I have ever been to. Not only does she work your muscles and give you a good stretching, there is also a lot of ‘enjoying the space around your arms’ and picturing yourself ‘floating down a beautiful river in a boat’ as well as communal singing and Ommmmmmmsss at the end of each class.
I find most group exercise classes deadly boring, and sometimes – in the case of body pump – slightly satanic, but hers are different every time, so I continue to go. She is also a masseur, artist and poet and her lyrical ‘visualisations’ at the end of each class, as we all collapse on our mats, are one of the best parts of the experience. She also runs outdoor classes in London Fields on summer mornings.
Visit her website here: shivashaktiyoga.co.uk
Lia Schiesches is a German woman who does extraordinary massages – she’s been a masseur for some 20 years so it’s not surprising. She knows exactly how far to go, and her hands push muscles to what feels like breaking point, but she somehow knows exactly when to stop – it sounds painful (it is painful, actually) but the end result is pure bliss. The last time I went she was rolling out my back like it was pastry, and I said to her, ‘I feel like I’m getting taller’. She sounded like she’d heard it all before and replied, ‘Oh, I’m not making you taller, I’m just restoring you to your natural height. Our lives beat us down and this is about putting things back where they should be.’ She really is very good.
What I also like about this place is that all the women are genuinely sisters doing it for themselves. Each runs her own small business, giving classes, teaching, and improving her skills, and this self-reliance means that they are all serious about what they do, which is reflected in their professionalism.
Plus, a good yoga class or massage will reduce stress levels and make you more productive and creative, which to me justifies the price. Yoga is a tenner and massages are around the 45 pound mark. It may seem like a luxury, but it’s worth it even once every few months, or as a gift to someone going through a tough time. So, if you feel in need of some TLC – and it is January, month of diets, debt and general chilliness – forgo the sales, and treat yourself here instead. Now, please excuse me while I hug this tree.
Holistic Health, 64 Broadway Market, E8 4QJ
Tel: 020 7275 8434
And stay tuned for a warming January recipe, also of non-Western persuasion: Shanghai Fish Soup.