Healing Heartbreak Through Yoga: Mandy Ingber

mommy-greenest-mandy-ingber-yogalosophy-photo-600Like all of us, I’m no stranger to heartbreak. And I’ve always used exercise—particularly yoga, over the last 20 years—to get me through. So when I read about yogi-to-the-stars Mandy Ingber’s new book, Yogalosophy for Inner Strength: 12 Weeks to Heal Your Heart and Embrace Joy, I knew I had to talk to her. “Heartbreak is a universal experience,” she writes in this amazing book, the second in her New York Times best-selling Yogalosophy series. “In this moment of truth lies the opportunity to find action-oriented ways to love yourself.” This idea—that events which challenge us can also inspire critical growth—really resonated with me. With surprising perspective provided by yoga clients like Jennifer Aniston and Brooke Shields, Yogalosophy for Inner Strength is a twelve-week program that focuses on physical and emotional health with the goal of transitioning through grief to joy. Mandy took time out to connect with me in this exclusive interview.

How did you first come up with the Yogalosophy concept?

“When I started doing yoga with Mandy, I noticed an inner strength I had never experienced before. Mandy will help you to discover what ‘yoga’ means to you.” -Jennifer Aniston

I’ve been practicing yoga my entire life, so the philosophy is just a part of my view. The body-positive “love your body into shape” approach began when I was first teaching spinning in 1996. I brought a mindfulness to the bike and became a kind of motivational speaker. People kept saying my class was like yoga on a bike. When I went through some changes, like a break up and my father’s passing, suddenly yoga requests were coming at me from all angles, and I after I attended a yoga teacher’s training, I added it to the mix. I love pure yoga, and there is so much great yoga out there, but there was also a demand for something different. I found a lot of my clients were either intimidated or bored with yoga and wanted something that was more accessible and felt like a workout. I created the hybrid routine and then started to bring my daily inspirations into the mix. It all happened very organically. My philosophy is to integrate and incorporate all of who we are….and to have a sense of acceptance. Then the body falls into place quite naturally.

I’ve written about how yoga changed my life—how did it change yours?

My entire childhood and relationship with my father was skewed by yoga. My father was yoga- and body-obsessed and my aim was to get his attention by using my flexibility in a variety of poses, really just competing with him to try to understand him better. My father also left my mom for his yoga buddy, so yoga has affected me quite personally. As I have grown into my own practice, this has become a total healing process for me—a through line of my life. To have been raised with a practice and a framework for detachment, I have been privileged to view my circumstances with a yogic approach. Yoga doesn’t solve all problems, but allows an opportunity for observation and presence. I have watched myself go from a struggling, neglected child to a master and a space holder…a teacher. It’s been an amazing journey and to be able to self-observe through it. They say the observer changes the experiment, so I imagine it’s given me a lot more say in my life.

There are a lot of celebrity trainers out there, but your relationship with your clients seems to go deeper. Why?

Oh, does that show? I was an actress myself. Many of my clients are my actual friends. Some of the friendships precede my being their teacher. I think I find the place where I connect to the person, the human being. I relate to the individual and make no assumptions based on image. I grew up in an environment that may have looked good on the outside, but contained a lot of depth and even pain. All of that is very human, so I appreciate that there is more that meets the eye. Other than that, I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s because I like to go deeper.

There are a lot of influencers quoted in your book—who has the best advice to give?

Me! No, just kidding. I mean, I don’t think that you can quantify one person over another. I have 12 of my friends in the book who are experts in their field and each has a story to tell. We each have a vital place in the world. Each person is one lens looking at the world, and together we get a better more enriching view. My dear friend and student Helen Hunt was instrumental in getting me into a daily meditation practice back in the day when she was winning Emmys every award season, and Oscars. She was quietly just chopping wood and carrying water. That was really the basis of her life. I admire that. Jen [Aniston] is just a very empowering, generous woman who is constantly expressing gratitude and giving kindness. So each person has a special super power.

Your book features a twelve-week plan. What’s involved in following it? What can a reader achieve in just three months?

I consider the book a companion. I don’t like programs that are super rigid and goal-oriented. My aim was to give multiple options for the reader to follow. What I offer is a weekly plan that includes a six-day exercise program with five yoga-based routines, recipes, playlists, meditations, and creative activities. It is meant to be a workout book meets The Artist’s Way and a way that we can heal and transition through actions. We can act our way into correct thinking. Getting more attuned to your creative nature and being present to your process is the aim. What the reader can achieve is more self-love, more self-acceptance, and of course they will be much sexier when they have completed the program.

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