It’s spring and one’s thoughts turn naturally to new beginnings. Spring is a time, more so, than New Year’s, when one feels a desire for physical renewal. There’s not one diet or lifestyle that works for everyone. Generally, people belong to one of two categories: fire or water. Most of us have elements of both. Understanding which one predominates can help us arrive at the diet and lifestyle plan which is most appropriate. Many of us who fight a constant battle with weight are what we term “water” people. This type conforms in many respects to the kapha dosha in the ancient Indian system of health, Auryveda. Water people’s emotional development was more influenced by the mother (or lack of mother-love). They are sensitive, orally-fixated, emotional, soft-bodied, more prone to inactivity, indulgent, and somewhat needy. It’s often harder for water people to initiate a discipline (but once they get in motion they often prove to be tireless). When stressed or upset they overeat. Food represents security. Water people try to feed an emptiness that food can never satisfy. On the upside water people are loyal, passionate, artistic, and have big hearts.Fire people are restless and energetic. These types have more angular bodies and seemingly more efficient metabolisms. They are usually more disciplined and crave movement. They have a much more normal relationship with food. They tend to externalize their feelings. Fire people are never more than a few pounds overweight or need to gain weight. When stressed, fire people under-eat. Fire people have the enviable ability to actually walk away without eating everything on their plate. They are perceived as being able to eat anything and stay svelte. Sometimes fire people gain weight as they get older because they take weight control for granted. They should exercise after breakfast, make an effort to get enough sleep. Fire people can easily have thyroid problems from excessive stress and which through their metabolism into disarray. Fire people, if not careful, can age more quickly than water people. Fire people correspond to the Pitta Dosha in the Auryveda system.Please note that there is a third type of person: Air, influenced by a lack of both mother and father love (at crucial times in their development). For our purposes Air people are a subset of Fire.Here is a quiz which will help you to pinpoint your type. Assign one of these values to each question:1. always 2. almost always 3. sometimes 4. seldom 5. never1. Do you spend more time planning you next meal than you do your next night out?2. Has your body image ever been cause for depression? 3. Do you always eat everything on your plate? 4. Do you have clothes in your closet you hope to fit into someday?5. Does the thought of exercise fill you with dread?6. Is food something you rely on for comfort or consolation? 7. Do you find yourself eating whenever food is available? 8. Have you ever begged off a social engagement to stay home and party with the refrigerator? 9. Have you ever found yourself eating something with no recollection of putting it into your mouth? 10. Do you feel confused about how you gain weight because you’re sure you don’t eat that much?11. Have you ever avoided the beach or the pool because you’re embarrassed by your body? Now add up the values you’ve assigned to each question. Simply put: if your total is 33 or less you are a fire person, 34 or more, a water person. FIRE PEOPLE:Avoid egg yolks, nuts, hot spices, honey, and hot or stimulating drinks in favor of cool foods and drinks. Fire people are especially upset by alcohol and cigarettes, as well as by overwork, overexertion, and overheating. When out of balance, they are susceptible to feeling negative emotions such as hostility, hatred, intolerance, and jealousy. Therefore it is very important for Fire People to keep cool (literally and figuratively) and to lead a pure and moderate lifestyle. Do things that cool the mind, emotions, and body. Avoid conflicts. Sitali Pranayam (cooling breath): inhaling through a curled, extended tongue, exhaling through the nose, is a great technique for Fire People. WATER PEOPLE:For water people a large breakfast can cause sluggishness all day. Water people should exercise before breakfast. Avoid sugar, fats, dairy products, and salt. Use oil only in small amounts. Choose light, dry foods. The main meal should be at the middle of the day, and only a light, dry meal in the evening. Avoid cold foods and drinks. Water people prone to lethargy, sluggishness, depression, and weight gain. They need activity and stimulation. Daily exercise is more important for them than for any other type. Getting out of the house and actively seeking new experiences is also valuable. Be receptive to useful change. Renounce impediments to progress. Be intentional in implementing life-enhancing actions. Black pepper, ginger, cumin, chili, as well as green leafy vegetables, and beans are great for water people. Schedule time every day for prayer and meditation. Breath of Fire is a great technique for water people. The Fat Free Yoga DVD is great for Water people because of the thyroid work and for Water people because of work on the glands. The Navel Power DVD is great for Water people, who should work on the Navel as much as possible.MEDITATION OF THE MONTHThe great cycle of Creation: Existence, Life, Death, Rebirth, is represented by the Mantra: Sa-Ta-Na-Ma. This is known as the Punj Shabd, or Five Primal Sounds (ah which means to bring into being is the fifth). Sitting in easy pose, focus at the brow. Press your thumb tips against the index, middle, ring, and little fingers progressively, as you chant: Saaaaa – (in the key of C this is an E note) as you visualize your soul throughout its entire existence (or throughout all the lifetimes experienced by your soul). You can also visualize your soul in its primal state before this life.Taaaaa – (in the key of C this is an D note) as you visualize your life up to this moment, all the trials and tribulations, joys and pain you’ve gone through.Naaaaa – (in the key of C this is an C note) as you visualize yourself letting go of things that don’t serve you anymore.Maaaaa – (in the key of C this is an D note) as you visualize yourself reborn in the image of your excellence, renewed.This is another version for creativity:Sa -Visualize the UniverseTa -Visualize our solar systemNa – Visualize a winter scene, preferably somewhere you’ve been.Ma- Visualize that same place in spring coming to life.The mantra is chanted slowly to allow time for your visualization. You can take a breath after each cycle or chant the mantra continuously. Tune into the vibrations of the sounds and watch the mental movie as the images flow into one another. Chanting is part of the science of Naad Yoga. Naad means ‘no beginning,’ and relates to what is called the Sound Current. According to Yoga, everything in an emanation of this. The qualities of any given thing can be determined by its rate of vibration. For instance, if a person goes around cursing constantly, they will take on the qualities of that. Mantras are important tools in yoga which can help us become more positive and refined.
by Ravi Singh & Ana Brett
Ravi and Ana been featured presenters at the Midwest Yoga Conference, The Toronto Yoga Show, and the Six Days on Freedom Retreat. Their clients have included Olympic Athletes and celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Lou Reed, Carrie-Anne Moss, Donna Karan, and The Red Hot Chile Peppers. They’ve taught in many diverse contexts: from Iceland to Maui, Canada to Costa Rica, from boardrooms and Park Avenue Penthouses, to scientists at Bell Labs, from Opera Singers at the Aspen Music Festival and street kids in Los Angeles to backstage at Broadway plays. They are Authors of the Fat Free Yoga DVD series and the forthcoming book Fat Free Yoga.