Getting Strong From the Inside-Out With Mandy Ingber
Posted On Jun 01, 2016
With Yogalosophy For Inner Strength, celebrity instructor and New York Times bestselling author Mandy Ingber offers a full-body-and-soul approach to thriving during transitional and trying moments.
For two decades, fitness instructor and wellness expert Mandy Ingber has practiced, refined, tinkered with, and shaken up her very personal and dynamic take on health and happiness. Embracing every side of yoga as we know it — as a physical discipline, a spiritual way of life, and a full-on lifestyle — Ingber has become a sought-after voice in the wellness community, leading weekends at venues such as the Omega Institute and amassing a following that includes Jennifer Aniston, Kate Beckinsale, Ricki Lake, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Ingber’s first book, Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover, provided daily practical applications of her teachings and topped the best-seller lists. Her new book, Yogalosophy For Inner Strength: 12 Weeks to Heal Your Heart and Embrace Joy (Seal Press; $24) takes the concept a step further, helping readers accept emotions as they bring forth their best selves on a number of fronts. A longtime actor herself, Ingber debuted on Broadway in Brighton Beach Memoirs, was a series regular on Cheers and The Tortellis (as Annie Tortelli), guest-starred in a number of top TV series from the ‘80s and ‘90s (think The Wonder Years, Caroline in the City, and Silver Spoons), and performed the “Top That!” rap in Teen Witch. (Yassss queen.)
We love Ingber’s writing style and the three months of wellness outlined in Yogalosophy For Inner Strength — which include meditations, recipes, playlists, rituals, and five yoga routines that inspire happiness, strength, and cardiovascular health — are a beautiful invitation to holistic wellness. Here, we chat with Ingber as her book hits shelves and e-readers everywhere.
NEW YOU: Mandy! How does it feel to have readers experiencing your new Yogalosopohy book?
MANDY INGBER: As a writer, it’s necessary to become a bit of a hermit at the beginning of the process, so I love having it come back to me. Now I get to connect with people through events and interviews, and it all helps me to see myself better.
NY: What was your writing process like with Yogalosophy For Inner Strength? Did you have a particular schedule or sacred writing space?
MI: A good writing space can really make a big difference in the process. With the first book, I wrote it out of different spaces, whenever I could grab time. There were different spots that worked, certain coffee houses. But this time I wrote out of my home. I have a very sparse living space filled with light, that looks out onto trees and that worked very well for me. As for a schedule, I only write two hours a day. I’m not the type who can go all day. I kept it to two hours, and over five months I had my manuscript. As a kid, I went to school for “experiential learning.” We took very engaging field trips and spent time in academic libraries. We’d make a contract at the beginning of the week, expressing what we’d do academically. Our teachers never got on us about what we should be doing. A lot of the time in traditional schools is eaten up by changing classes and hanging out with friends. My takeaway from that was that two hours in a library was enough to get academics completed.
NY: Now, your holistic approach to living a spiritually sound, resonant life – anchored by the practice of yoga — is expressed beautifully in this new Yogalosophy book. What are the unique elements that differentiate it from other offerings in the wellness category?
MI: I think it’s a combination of several things. It incorporates a lot of practical tools that are yoga-based, along with meditations inspired by yoga. But it’s a creative process as well. I think of it as yoga and spiritual fitness meets The Artist’s Way. It allows an individual to find out what it all means to them while remaining user-friendly for the average person whether they’re a “yoga person” or not. These actions are do-able and accessible.
NY: You’re very open about yourself throughout your writing and instruction. How have you come to know what is best to share on a public level?
MI: I’ve always been one to teach by sharing about myself, and any anecdote I offer is in the service of illustrating a point. I do have to ask myself, or in the case of writing a book, my editors: “Is this relevant to the reader or am I over-sharing or telling on myself?” What I have shared has felt right up to this point. Being able to connect with others is something that makes my life relevant. In that spirit, I appreciate when something happens in my life that isn’t so easy, so I can use it to help others.
NY: Now the first book brought some depth to the concept of the “makeover” and this sophomore effort is a bit of a deep-dive. How would you describe the transition from the first to the second book?
MI: The first book had this concept of the mind-body “makeover.” It was a makeover of the mind and how we think about our bodies, all within a fun, attainable framework. This second book is more about acceptance of the emotions. I set out to offer solutions that work for anyone, regardless of where they are in life. We all want to be at the top of our game, all of the time, although we’re not always at the number-one position. But we’re never without the ability to do something good for ourselves.
NY: Do you feel that yoga can sometimes be misconstrued as purely a workout or a fashionable lifestyle, when it has far deeper underpinnings and come out of time-honored spiritual traditions?
MI: I have a love-hate relationship with the “yoga lifestyle.” Sometimes it’s very cool, and sometimes it’s very external. But at the end of the day, there are worse thing to be doing… It’s not that offensive to wear yoga pants and get juice all the time. Life is one giant spiritual unfolding and it’s something available to everyone, not just those who look the part.
NY: There’s been a lot of talk of spiritual concepts over the past couple of decades. These are not “out there” or off-putting notions for the average person anymore, where they may have been boxed in as “new age” previously. Do you notice more people “walking the talk” of spirituality?
MI: You look out there and see both. The more the light comes up, the more dark happens, too. We’re served information so much these days and it’s not the greatest secret to find this forward-thinking information on these matters. It’s available and accessible, which is great. But we’re also oversaturated and overstimulated. My father [wellness pioneer Lloyd Ingber] was doing all sorts of radical things in the ‘80s, but he still died at age 60. You never know. I’m all about reconnecting to the self on a simple level. Stimulation can be exciting but also distracting. It all depends on how people use what they find. It’s about coming back to simplicity, being present, and practicing kindness to self and others.
NY: We’ve heard more and more that material possessions hold less significance to people now and experiences are becoming far more desirable as “acquisitions” than items. What’s your take on this?
MI: I think this is such an interesting question. I personally value experience. That is a commodity. I’ve had a really diverse life and been fortunate to be in the presence of interesting people. That’s certainly my experience of my clientele, many of whom are extremely “in the spotlight.” We’ve spent time together, and dive deep into things. Taking that dive is what’s really special about our relationships.
NY: A well-rounded life, we hear time and again, involves a “gas and clutch” approach to life… Not all fun and games, not all heavy-hearts or hard work. What are some easy ways to ensure that we aren’t veering too far off into either direction?
MI: Balance is about falling over. When you’re in a balance pose, you’re working two opposing energies and falling is natural to that. A big part of being happy is giving yourself the leeway to veer too far in either direction and, now and then, fall. Life will always unfold and correct things for us, and after time, the balance comes. The best course to take is to live your own life, the one that is uniquely yours.
NY: For those stuck in a rut, or who feel intrinsically unable to make positive change happen, what would you suggest?
MI: Routines are important for bringing that about. Having some simple habits to live by helps. We need time for fun and recreation. We need hobbies we love. We need work that makes us feel valuable, a sense of participation in our communities, and some form of “seeking.” Addressing all of these areas makes room for so much good to take root. Life isn’t just about making money or “getting the job done.” It’s not “all or nothing.” It’s about developing a well-rounded sense of self.
Cover photo credit: David Korman
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