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Mandy Ingber, Yoga Instructor to the Stars, Shares Health Tips

Mandy Ingber

Celebrity yoga instructor and wellness expert Mandy Ingber

Mandy Ingber makes her living promoting wellness and self-esteem. Here, she shares advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and insight into her work with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

By Diann Daniel

Mandy Ingber, the self-esteem and wellness expert who is commonly known as Jennifer Aniston’s yoga teacher, will be leading this year’s fundraiser FenwaYoga for the Red Sox Foundation. As part of the conversation around that event, she shared insight into her weekly fitness routine, ideas on how to be kind to oneself, and tips for being healthy—inside and out.

How do you balance yoga and other exercise?

I was actually a certified spinning instructor prior to being a yoga instructor. I love cardio, and have always loved all forms of moving my body. I try to incorporate yoga and stretching daily, but three to four days a week I include another modality.

How do you counsel clients on balancing different types of movement?

I encourage the client to incorporate cardio as well. Jen [Aniston] and I spin together, and she will run on the treadmill or do the elliptical machine prior to our yoga workouts. With Kate [Beckinsale], I sometimes hike with her in addition to yoga. Other clients hire me to be their spin buddy or yoga buddy, and I just think it’s great for people to move their bodies daily—in whatever way they like. I have multiple modalities in my book Yogalosophy, and my DVD Yogalosophy is a hybrid of yoga poses with toners as a complement to traditional yoga poses.

Women in particular can be so harsh with themselves, and that’s exponentially true when the media puts that harsh spotlight on a person’s looks. What have you found most useful, besides yoga and exercise, in helping to develop kindness toward yourself? How about in terms of helping clients?

The best I can do is to be an example, and to speak positively about my own body. Developing a loving attitude towards the self is key, as is restricting our critical self-talk. What works best is speaking about the miracles of the body. “The body is falling right into place naturally,” “this is what it feels like to get into shape,” and “appreciate your curves”…these are all ways to be kind to the self. So my goal is always kindness to the self, and others really learn by example.

This year, Mandy Ingber will lead a team of Red Sox Foundation MVPs.

On Sunday, Mandy will lead yoga classes at Fenway Park to raise Red Sox Foundation funds to benefit underserved children. One focus of the foundation’s programs is building kids’ self-esteem through fitness.

I know the week after you’re at Fenway in Boston, you’ll be doing a workshop in New York. [Ingber will be holding a workshop at the Omega Institute in New York from June 13–June 15.] With such a frenetic schedule, what techniques besides yoga do you use to stay relaxed?

I carve time out for myself for meditation, walks, gratitude lists, and journaling. It’s important for me to slow down, and take that time. I consider that my home base. I have always been pretty good at time management, but I make sure to schedule in my down time, otherwise it won’t happen! Primarily, enjoying the moment is the best way to stay relaxed. Presence is the key. But like everyone, I am working on it, one breath at a time, and it isn’t always easy.

Tips from Mandy on Being Healthy Inside and Out

  • Visualize your best self, and as you imagine that, hold on to the feeling.
  • Commit to yourself. Make healthy choices about diet, meditation, and physical activity.
  • Do one thing daily that stretches you.
  • Be of service to another. A kind act toward someone else will make you feel amazing.
  • Take time to feel into your heart. Literally place your mind into the center of your chest, and you will feel a buzz or vibration there. Energy flows where the mind goes. If you don’t feel it, then imagine you feel it—that’s just as good.
  • To expand your happiness, write a gratitude list.
  • Set your sights on a short-term goal, such as a workshop, to give you an immediate sense of accomplishment.

 

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Celebrity Yoga Instructor Mandy Ingber on Yoga at Fenway Park

Boston's Fenway Park will serve as Mandy Ingber's yoga studio this Sunday.

Boston’s Fenway Park will serve as Mandy Ingber’s yoga studio this Sunday.

This year, Mandy Ingber will lead a team of Red Sox Foundation MVPs in two yoga classes on the warning track of the Fenway Park field.

 

Los Angeles-based celebrity yoga instructor Mandy Ingber is known for helping the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Kate Beckinsale, and Brooke Shields in such enviably shape. But on June 8, Ingber’s primary focus will be to represent the Red Sox Foundation as it holds “FenwaYoga” for the second consecutive year. The fundraiser—held on the sacred grounds of Fenway Park—will raise money for the Red Sox Foundation’s Red Sox Scholars Program, which provides academic support to promising disadvantaged students, and its RBI Program, which helps at-risk youth develop self-esteem and life skills, make healthy choices, achieve in school, and develop teamwork skills through participation in baseball and softball programs. Two classes, one for 9:00 a.m. and one at 10:30 a.m. and which can each hold 244 people, will be held along the warning track of the Fenway field. Registration fee is $25, and each participant must commit to raising $250 for the Red Sox Foundation. (If registering after 5:00 p.m. today, that amount is due at the time of registration.) To sign up, click here. (See bottom for additional information for participants.)

Ingber spoke with me for Books+Body in 2013 about her book Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover, and I’m thrilled to have her back. Below, she shares some background on how she came to be involved in FenwaYoga, her excitement about leading this fundraiser, and thoughts on why physical activity can be so crucial to building self-esteem. (In the next post, she shares more on being healthy inside and out.)

Books+Body: What led to your involvement with FenwaYoga this year?

Mandy Ingber: Ever since I was a recurring character on Cheers in my late teens-early 20s, Boston has always had a special place in my heart. I used to visit my best friends at Emerson College, my boyfriend’s hometown is Boston, and my half-sister goes to Northeastern currently, so I have a lot of heart connections to that city. When the people from KIND [one of the partners of the event] asked me to participate, I immediately said “yes” because it is such a great brand—and because I was so excited to step foot on the Fenway Park field! I can’t wait to practice yoga there; it’s a dream to be able to be my version of athletic at such as historical site.

Besides being in Fenway Park, what are you most looking forward to about the experience?

I am secretly excited to be up on the screen. But mostly excited to practice yoga with like-minded people who are caring for themselves, while they work for a cause. This is the best of all worlds. For this Fenway event, everybody gets to win. Not only that, but I have never taught yoga in Boston before, and I am excited to meet the Yogalosophy fans there. I will be meeting and greeting, and DVDs and books will be available, so I am really looking forward to the personal connection.

FenwaYoga will be geared to all levels. How do you approach a situation like that when there are presumably so many different levels of ability and experience with yoga? (Not to mention the unusual setting.)

As with most yoga sessions that I teach, I will have a plan and then will likely have to adapt. Flexibility comes in all forms, right? Yoga is a little more difficult to teach to all levels than say, spinning, because each body is so different and there are multiple movements to master. A lighthearted approach, with the focus on having a good time, contemporary music, and a little prayer that it will all go okay will be my formula. I also plan to incorporate some Yogalosophy hybrid moves [yoga blended with more traditional toning exercises], which are doable for newbies and challenging for old school yogis and yoginis. I’m also pretty excited, because the Red Sox Foundation is providing prizes for the biggest fundraiser and one of the prizes is joining me at the Omega Institute the following weekend to create vision boards and set intentions for ourselves through yoga and meditation. Should be powerful.

Scene from FenwaYoga 2013.

Scene from FenwaYoga 2013.

FenwaYoga is being held to raise funds for the Red Sox Foundation, which has a cornerstone program that uses physical activities (baseball and softball) to foster the development of self-esteem and the ability to make healthy choices. Though your own primary modality (yoga) is different, these ideas have obvious parallels with what you do, and also speak to how something as seemingly superficial as “getting in shape” or “getting healthy” can really have powerful ramifications for the rest of your life. Thoughts on that?

We all have a body that needs care. From the most famous celebrity to the man on the street. It doesn’t matter how wealthy you are, if you are in love, or what your situation is, the body needs self-care, and each of us is the one responsible for that. When we take care of our bodies, we build self-esteem. It’s really quite phenomenal, this instrument we have. We can use our bodies to build strength or energy, or to mellow out and calm our nervous systems. The more you get to know how the body works—and feel how powerful feeling strong and healthy is to all aspects of your life—the more confidence you develop. Moving the body moves energy and relaxes the mind. It improves focus, concentration and presence. That phrase “you can’t think your way into correct action, but you can act your way into correct thinking” really applies.

There are advantages to working as a team as well. Since I have no hand-eye coordination, my MVP position is as a yoga instructor, and a yoga class becomes its own kind of team.

 –Diann Daniel

For FenwaYoga Participants

Fundraising prizes

First-place prize is a trip to the Omega Institute in New York, as well as yoga mat, supply of Vita Coco water, and an autographed Dustin Pedroia baseball. The second-prize is four green monster seats at a Red Sox game, as well as a yoga mat, autographed Jon Lester jersey, and supply of Vita Coco. Finally, the third prize is four in-field grand stand seats at a Red Sox game, a yoga mat, and a case of Vita Coco water.

Expo, Participant Arrival
Guests can arrive as early as 8 a.m., through the Gate C entrance. That area will host the Health & Fitness Expo, which will be open to the public from 8am-12pm, and everyone (whether registered for FenwaYoga or not) is welcome to come in and check out the vendors and the expo.

Other Boston Area Events

The Boston area will also be hosting Runner’s World’s events this weekend. For information, start here and here.

 

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Jennifer Aniston’s Yoga Teacher Mandy Ingber on Yogalosophy, Self-Acceptance, and Writing

Mandy Ingber in ...

Mandy Ingber in Dancer’s Pose.

With Jennifer Aniston’s body making a feature appearance in the trailer for We Are the Millers and summer clothing now officially on our minds, the publication of Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover by Aniston’s yoga teacher and trainer Mandy Ingber, is well-timed. Yet this new wellness book by the celebrity trainer—who also works with the likes of Kate Beckinsale, Brooke Shields, and others—targets much more than simply looking good in a bikini.

Ingber approaches wellness from a holistic mindset and posits that health should start from a place of deep self-acceptance. To that end, Yogalosophy is structured as a day-by-day journey into mind-body health and features yoga poses, exercises, recipes, tips on creating a healthy mindset, breathing exercises, and tips on meditation.

In this special Where Books+Body Meet, Ingber discusses her approach to wellness—and to writing her first book.

On writing and short-term goals

Books+Body: What made you decide that now was the right time to write a book?
Mandy Ingber: I’ve always been a reader—and a closet writer. Over the years, my story and my motivations would drive my classes. When I first began teaching spinning in 1996, my students insisted that I write a book. Of course, I had fantasized about it, but did not know how it would crystallize. As the teacher, I feel it’s my responsibility to keep expanding myself. Not only in my field, but to expand beyond the boundaries that I have placed upon myself. That’s my spiritual work, in a way. A book was very aspirational, but attainable.

Short-term goals—you talk about them as important to health and fitness. Why are they important and how did you apply them to your writing?
Short-term goals allow us to feel we are doing well. I feel that when I accomplish what I set out to do, that makes me feel like a winner. Oftentimes, when people set a very lofty goal, it is difficult to measure exactly where you are along the way, but with short-term, manageable goals, we can mark them off.

I very much applied this principle to writing Yogalosophy. I set aside two hours each day to write. I had the outline, so I could use the template of the 28 days, and knew the basic structure of the book. I had a deadline, per my publishers, Seal Press. I then focused on the two hours per day. If I skipped a day, I simply started fresh the next day with two hours. If I had extra steam, I would still stop after two hours. At the end of four months, I had a manuscript. That’s pretty much a one-day-at-a-time process. The book then had the photographs. Then the layout and visual components. The structure. Each of these parts was its own little milestone.

What was the process of writing like for you?
I was very stream of consciousness. I did not try to be a yoga encyclopedia. There is plenty of great stuff out there. Iyengar’s Light On Yoga (the yoga bible), and many more. My book is an expression of my own journey. The yoga of self-love and self-care. That’s what I wanted to share with the world. Part of my personal experience is having been incredibly tortured about my body image, perfectionism and the yo-yoing that happens during a punishment/reward cycle of strict living and complete abandon. I have spent many years refining my own mental state about my body. So, it was not difficult. It’s a little challenging to trust that my journey is relevant to others whom I have never met; however, I learned long ago, as a teacher, that the students who were attracted to the class needed what I was offering. So I will assume the same here.

On yoga, fitness, and balance

You wrote Yogalosophy in part to bridge a gap between yoga and fitness. Can you talk a bit about what that gap is and also why it might need a bridge?
I get so much interest from people who want to bring yoga into their life for health purposes, to improve performance, to lower stress levels, and to get limber. Many of them find yoga intimidating, boring, or feel that they’ve somehow missed the boat. Or that yoga can seem lofty and exclusive. Or that yoga can seem slow. Having grown up in a home where yoga was practiced as a staple, alongside cycling, dance, cardio…etcetera, I understand what it can be like to feel like the odd man out. My dad made yoga look downright intimidating.

Many people want to explore the physical practice without the asana (or postures), while others want only the meditative aspects. My book brings together multiple modalities, because it’s completely irrelevant which one you connect with. You may bring the yogic mentality of mindfulness, intention-setting, self-observation, and wholeness into any fitness regime.

As a person who runs and who does yoga, I love both but do find their energy to be quite different and sometimes (for example) find it difficult to not bring inappropriate (and injury-producing) striving to yoga. Or conversely, I get into more of a yoga mode and feel like I’m more about just letting go, and then running seems hard (too “effortful”). For others like myself, any thoughts on how to balance those two sides?
I feel that within everything is the dance of polarities. Without the softening into, we would not have the emptiness required to excel; without the drive, we would not accomplish. We each have a balance from within. Yoga is such a great modality, because it is strength-building and energizing if needed, and calming if needed. My two main modalities are spinning and yoga. I learned more about yoga from my spinning than elsewhere. Finding the stillness in the center of all that movement. That’s a true stillness at the core. In order for the yoga practice to have clean lines, the energy must be dynamic, opposing forces creating active lines of energy. Both/and.

On a specific note, what are a couple tips you recommend to help protect your lower back and knees—two places that can be particularly vulnerable—during yoga?
Each person is unique. So, the best teacher is experience. If your knee joints are bothering you, that is not a pain to push through. Sometimes Reclining Pigeon can be helpful by stretching out the IT band. Sometimes a lesser bend in that knee for a Crescent or Warrior Pose. Regarding the lower back, many times when the lower back is in pain, it’s because the front of the body needs a stretch. A simple lunge may do. If all else fails, massage. And if that doesn’t work…physical therapy. Do not give up on your search to feel comfortable and good in your body.

On self-acceptance

One principle you support in Yogalosophy is to love your body now—as is. Why is accepting yourself as is so important?
I always do better when I get positive reinforcement. When I know I am doing well, I do better! I say, with this one, why don’t you try it as an experiment. Try speaking only lovingly and nicely about your body. The only power we have over anything is the power we have over our own actions and attitudes. This muscle must be strengthened as much as any.

Acceptance is the key to all of my problems, as when I do that, my world of choices opens up. As for being motivated, have you ever had a lover who didn’t appreciate you? This body of yours is the love of your life. If you start treating it that way, it will lovingly respond. If you need punishment and threats to keep you motivated, what is going to happen when you start doing really well and being accomplished? I want to live an enriched and exciting life that comes from joy. Anyone with me?

You also talk about moving towards health “from a place of love.” How would you describe that?
Total acceptance of self and others as is. When I am coming from a conscious place of love, I choose better foods, I am happier, and I feel awesomeness.

You work with a lot of celebrities and on the whole I would expect that they have a lot more time to devote to working out. I thought it was interesting you actually mentioned time as a constraint for at least some celebrities (one was Kate Beckinsale). So with that in mind, the average non-celebrity woman is definitely hard-pressed to find time to work out: How should she prioritize that precious hour—or less?
Make this a date. Put it in your calendar. Have a dedicated workspace or class. There are plenty of online groups where you can get support as well. This is also your time to develop a relationship with you. You are the priority. A great way to work it in as well is to make a workout date with a friend and have a meet up there. Lastly, think of it like brushing your teeth and washing your face. Would you start your day without cleaning yourself that way?

You end up close to the people you train. How important is friendship to health and why might pairing up for workouts be good?
We can’t do it alone. We all need support. It’s one of the greatest pleasures, treasures and gifts of being a human. Having someone hear you, witnessing others go through and intense process and coming out the other side. These are absolute miracles. Working out really can be very deep and very fun. Putting your head in the right space is a must.

On books

What are your favorite or most influential books—yoga or otherwise?

  • Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
  • Seth Speaks by Jane Roberts
  • The poetry of Dylan Thomas
  • The Castle of the Pearl (a workbook) by Christopher Biffle
  • Astrology for the Soul by Jan Spiller
  • Strangers Among Us by Ruth Montgomery
  • Earth-A Living Library by Barbara Marciniak
  • Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch by Henry Miller
  • Sexus/Nexus/Plexus by Henry Miller
  • The Diary of Anaïs Nin
  • Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz
  • The Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You by Dorothy Bryant
  • The Story of B by Daniel Quinn

…so many books….

***

YOGALOS-CoverFinalMandy Ingber will be promoting her book in California, New York City, Chicago, and a handful of other places. Check the Events section on her website to see she’ll be coming to your area. Yogalosophy: 28-days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover is available online at her website and elsewhere. You can also find her wellness blog on People.com and for E! and on Twitter at @msmandyingber or Facebook Mandy Ingber’s Yogalosophy.

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