Friday, 16 May 2008

The Yoga of Herbs

I've been tagged in a meme by Elspeth Thompson, a writer and broadcaster on gardening and greener living who has a wonderful new blog following her progress converting Victorian railway carriages into an eco-home.. fantastic! I am looking forward to following the progress of this exciting project. Although a little shy of memes in general, I have really enjoyed the links on Elspeth's post and have found some delightful new blogs to visit this way.

Here is the deal: you pick up the nearest book set in a foreign country and then..

1) Open page 123
2) Find the fifth sentence.
3) Post the next three sentences.
4) Tag five people and acknowledge who tagged you.

When I stood in front of my groaning bookshelves, I wasn't entirely sure that I had a book set in a foreign country.. but a small book which I had been meaning to look into again caught my eye and I knew it was the one!

My book is 'The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine' by Dr David Frawley and Dr Vasant Lad and it is another of my highly treasured charity shop finds. Indeed, I would never have come across the wisdom contained in this wonderful book if it had not been for an anonymous kindly soul donating it, as it is marked 'for sale in South Asia only' in imposing capital letters! It was purchased at the Aarushi book shop, opp. Domino's Pizza, Connaught Circus, New Delhi for 180 rupees, according to a beautifully printed flourescent pink sticker inside the front cover.

I was drawn to this book by my interest in finding out more about the ayurvedic system of healing since taking up yoga. As in Chinese medicine, but unlike Western approaches, Ayurveda is centred around constitution 'types' (the 'dosha's) and aims to identify and correct underlying imbalances (the cause) rather than merely carry out symptomatic treatment of disease (the effect). The book offers a basic understanding of the ayurvedic use of herbs and is invaluable for its reference appendices which list the characteristics of many common Western herbs in ayurvedic terms as well as some of the more traditional Indian plants that are now available more widely.

Anyway, turning to page 123 I laughed out loud .. despite the fact that this little book had travelled all the way from Delhi, what herb should I find on this page but Hawthorn Berries?! However, sticking specifically to the rules of the meme, the sentences selected from this page form the closing section for the herb on the previous page, Golden Seal (Hydrastis candensis). I like this little passage, because it reminds us how powerful plants are and that they have effects on many different parts of the body, which must be borne in mind, other than the part we are hoping to treat:

'However, it is not a panacea for all diseases. It has a negative impact on good intestinal flora and has many of the contraindications of antibiotic drugs (it is good to use in place of them). It is contraindicated in most deficiency conditions, most conditions were a nurturing therapy is appropriate.'

This is what the book, and healing system, is all about .. considering and balancing effects on the whole body. Maybe not the most edifying or enlightening 3 sentences ever written, but what I love about my books (and I do LOVE books, can you tell?) is that they are little treasure chests of knowledge and wisdom, in highly concentrated form, painstakingly brought together and passed from one human being to another. A thought or poem or philosophical idea can be life-changing .. but my 3 sentences could be life-SAVING!!

Many thanks to Elspeth for nominating me and providing the impetus for fishing out this book and reading it cover to cover this week. Now I get the chance to point you in the direction of another five fantastic blogs which I enjoy and would like to share .. I am not asking them to join the meme necessarily (unless keen to do so), but rather taking the opportunity to highlight their work. Enjoy!

Naturewitch .. I love the monthly Moon Gardening post which details the optimum timings for each gardening task according to the phases of the moon. Naturewitch blogs passionately about the need to grow our own food .. lots of good, practical posts and information.

The Ayurveda Way .. How could I not include Q's fantastic blog?! The quality rather than the quantity of posting shines through and I have found myself going back to re-read the most recent, on 'Breathing', many times. A calming, thoughtful space reminding us to take the time to breathe, sleep, heal and give ourselves what our bodies need and are crying out for.

The Herb Gardener .. Anyone who enjoys herbs will love Sara Elliot's friendly welcoming blog full of growing tips and recipes, along with a whole separate blog devoted to Lavender! Its soft brown tones and resident snail give this blog a lovely feel and the short informative posting style is perfect.

My Wildlife Sanctuary .. No day would be complete without a visit to Cheryl's wildlife garden in Kent. This lady is an inspiration and kindred spirit. If you have yet to discover her blog you must go now, this very instant, and see for yourself! Copious beautiful photographs and writing from the heart: a true daily journal following the lives (and loves!) of the wildlife she carefully nurtures.

Daughter of the Soil .. Rebsie is a folk singer and anti-GM campaigner whose passion is growing heritage vegetables. She generously shares her immense knowledge and experience on her blog which follows her experiments in the garden and is the most wonderful resource. A lovely person, freely giving expert advice and encouragement to others, who writes in a down-to-earth, friendly and informal style.


Cheryl said...

Hi Hedgewitch.....Whoops you have done it again but how can I refuse you after such a lovely write up.
Sherry at Qs corner put me in touch with the Ayurvedic Way. I am a pitta dosha. It has helped me a lot with regard to adjusting my diet and looking at things differently. I am grateful to Sherry for taking me down this path.
The blogs you mention are wonderful. There are many talented and good people out there.

Lastly hedgewitch....You cover so many issues here....your caring and compassion are an inspiration to many I am sure.
You posts on herbs are always so informative and I have learnt much since visiting you. Tku.
Have a fun weekend.

P.S. Original said...

What a wonderful blog, it is a pleasure to read!I wlii list it under my favorites!

Q said...

Dear Hedgewitch,
Thank you for "tagging" me.
I have just started the "Ayurveda Way" blog. Glad you are enjoying it. Hopefully I will add more to it as I am able to get just the right photos. It is a very beautiful way to live. Finding balance and living mindfully is living "heaven on earth."
I post most of the time on "Q's Corner". There is where the bees and butterflies, birds and herbs are pictured.
I am under the care of a Naturalpath Doctor. She has challanged me to grow my own medicine. I am posting about this experience and my daily walk on my other blog, Walking In Beauty!
I have a huge on line house with many rooms...please come over and have a cup of tea with me. We can chat and have much fun.
Thank you for your kind words.

Rose said...

Cheryl has just tagged me, so I was checking out the source here...You both have chosen such interesting books. But I think it's so funny that this book was purchased at a shop in New Delhi across from a Domino's Pizza!

Hedgewitch said...

Thank you, cheryl! That's interesting .. I come out as predominantly Vata dosha, but Pitta is also significant. The more I find out about this way of thinking, with regards to eating and looking after oneself, the more it intuitively makes sense?

Glad you enjoyed your trip around the blogs!

Hi Sherry .. I will certainly visit! Am very excited to hear you're growing your own medicine.. we have much in common :-)

Hello Rose, yes that tickled me, too! Looking forward to seeing what you make of the meme

Hi PS.. and welcome! Many thanks for stopping by :-)

naturewitch said...

Hi Hedgewitch

Thanks for the tag - love to have people visit. Thrilled about the international network of like mids we have going. Thanks.

NW xx

Hedgewitch said...

You're welcome, NW! said...

Living the Ayurvedic lifestyle is a very balancing and peaceful experience.

I thought it might be worthwhile posting here, that it is believed that Ayurveda actually influenced Chinese medicine. There are many similarities in the methodology. Some might go so far as to say that Chinese medicine began due to Ayurveda's influence. But who's to know for sure.


Hedgewitch said...

Welcome personalalchemy!

Thanks for sharing .. I didn't know that, how interesting :-)