Health & Fitness

By Patricia Wersinger

A creator of numerous yoga DVD’s and the face of the yoga wear line for Adidas – Rainbeau Mars is a famed yoga instructor and holistic specialist. She was in New York last week for a special yoga workshop at the Strala Yoga Center to promote her new video Ra’Yoka. Rainbeau describes Ra’Yoka as “a system that uses the therapeutic and maintaining benefits of yoga and enhances it with martial arts movements and olympic level core conditioning to help improve focus, conditioning, coordination”. At the workshop, she taught participants how to improve their ability to practice handstands, inversions and backbends. It was a marvel to watch Mars perform each stand with the ease of a Houdini twisting her shape into the most fantastic poses. Daunted and fascinated by her feline flexibility I asked her what was the secret to achieving such perfection? “A diet of raw foods is very important” said Mars. “Without raw foods, you cannot achieve the level of flexibility you need to achieve the best yoga poses”.

Mars sat down with me to tell me about her life and discuss her holistic conception of living integrating raw nutrition with fitness. Being the daughter of Brigitte Mars, a pioneering nutritionist from the sixties who had rejected her upper class upbringing to get back to the earth and find more meaning in life by living off wild edible plants before learning how to grow her own food – Mars interest in nutrition might seem natural. When Mars was born in a teepee, among a hippie community in the Ozarks, a double rainbow prophetically appeared in the sky. To her mother and the people around her, this was a special sign and the newborn was named Rainbow Harmony Mars. She changed her name to Rainbeau later on in acknowledgement to her French grand mother. From the beginning of her life, she was part of a community of holistic figures. During her teenage years in Hawaii, she learned from Ayurvedic naturopath, Dr Light, and Ayurvedic chiropractor, Dr Bryan Miller. She apprenticed yoga with gurus such as, Chuck Miller and Maty Erraty.

She also learned how to eat natural raw products of the earth and how to use plants as medicine. “We have become too dependent on refined foods devoid of the nutrients we need to be healthy,” she tells me. By nature, she claims that we were not meant to eat the way our culture expects us to. “Without consuming raw foods, not only you cannot reach the level of flexibility you need to achieve the best yoga poses but you cannot have a really healthy body, self or outlook on the world” she insists. “It is so important to watch what you put in your mouth because it becomes you. How you live, how you feel, what you think, how much tension you have in your body is the result of what you eat.”

According to Mars, joints are one of the most important things that you need to maintain well when you practice yoga and for them to function optimally you need raw fat. Raw forms of fat like raw olive oil, olives, avocados, hemp seeds, and raw nuts contribute to the level of moisture in your body and to the health of your joints. “You must try to achieve a more alkaline state rather than an acidic state if you want to increase your health and flexibility. It is imperative to avoid meat and cooked oil. Also eating greens especially deep greens is as imperative as brushing your teeth.” She adds that cutting up raw kale and eating it with olive oil is delicious and that her daughter loves it.

Mars recommends regular cleansing and fasting one day a week on top of a raw food diet to help the organs stay healthy and work at their best which affects our well being. “By detoxing the organs of our body, we can reenergize ourselves and improve our stamina, our outlook and the ability to have better intimacy in our relationships too.” she says, “The quality of your life, your relationships with people including the liveliness of your sexual relationships also depends on the foods you put in your mouth.” It is essential to have healthy kidneys to afford sexual stamina so eating black foods like Nutiva Chia seeds, which look like little kidneys and are rich in minerals that nourish and tone the kidneys are good. Nutiva Hemp Seeds are a great form of protein. Animal proteins are hard to digest and process, taxing the organs and therefore affecting our sexual life. Maca also supports the kidneys and provides energy while working as an aphrodisiac. If you want to get pregnant, eat fruits with lots of seeds to increase your fertility”.

Mars likes to compare herself jokingly to Martha Stewart. Instead of teaching how to entertain, she teaches women how to be healthy in their home, which is an extension of their body. That’s where it all starts and where it all ends. “What you do in your life is affected by what you do in your kitchen and what you do in your kitchen affects what you do in your bedroom (from the way you make love or don’t) and bathroom (the way you care for yourself or don’t) to your garden and home (and how you care for these reflections of yourself and how that expands to your life and sport). It’s all one.”

She says that when she has a fight with someone she knows she can blame a food for it. Eating potatoes can put you in a feisty mood so beware! Also give up coffee, as it is another source of imbalance for your body. Cooking with coconut oil is a great alternative to the free radicals found in heated olive oil.

Though eating raw foods can be off-putting for someone who loves bread, cheese, meat, and coffee as I do, I did try to insert more raw foods after my workshop and conversation with Mars. Our ancestors had healthier diets than we have, their bodies were leaner and without a doubt more flexible. Trying to recapture some of the healing harmony that plants can restore to our depleted systems and reaching to it through practicing yoga is a wise course to take to become “our best possible selves” and “a better offering to the world” as Mars likes to say. Looking at how healthy and glowing she is speaks for it self on the natural wealth within our reach that we can all make ours by binding yoga and raw nutrition.

Originally published June 2011
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