What Is Yogalosophy?
Mandy Ingber: My father first brought yoga into my life when I was 7. He began yoga, meditation and diet to help with his back injuries incurred from being really athletic. Once he healed, he began to use yoga to take his body to a new level. My brother and I tried to bond with my dad by doing yoga with him. I followed in my father's footsteps by using the book Iyengar's Light on Yoga. I also really love Richard Hittleman's Yoga for Health TV series. My parents brainstormed about creating a program to bring yoga to the office in order to improve productivity...a yoga break instead of a coffee break. I can really relate to the beginner who feels intimidated by yoga and meditation, because that's how I felt with my father—somewhat untouchable, restrictive, as if there were a right and wrong way to practice—I had big shoes to fill! Even though my father practiced daily, he had a highly stressful job and occasionally had a quick temper. I am under no illusion that yoga is the solution to all issues! That's why I am a very open-minded yogi.
MK: How has yoga changed your life?
MI: Yoga is a part of who I am. It has given me a permanent relationship. A relationship between my body, my mind and my emotions.
- Mind: It's been influential in giving me a sense of detachment from my struggles and my victories and has allowed me to observe myself. Yoga has given me greater focus.
- Emotions: Yoga has given me more compassion for my imperfections. When I wanted to give up, it slowed me down enough to tolerate what I once perceived as discomfort and to recognize that it is just a feeling. I believe when you want movement in your life, move your body! It has helped me through heartbreak and my father's passing. It is truly a thread that runs through my entire life.
- Body: Yoga has given me continued and increased strength and flexibility, cardiovascular stamina, body awareness, more consciousness of when I am hungry or full and increased sensitivity. Yoga relaxes my nervous system and regulates my hormones.
MI: Wow. Well, when I started in the '70s, it was usually done one on one, or through self-practice. So it was a much more naturally introspective process for people who were alternative thinkers. It was weird to do yoga when I was a kid. A lot of people thought it was hippie-ish. As it grew, there were a lot of interesting thinkers who used it to clear the mind for meditation. Yoga studios started to open in very simple spaces, where students would gather for serious practice. Mind you, there were no cell phones back then. It was strict and precious. Although in my household, my dad would practice any time, right in front of the TV. In the '90s it became very trendy. Power yoga emerged, and it felt more like a workout. Soon women who had been in aerobics in the '80s were trying yoga to get a great yoga butt. Now it has become even more mainstream, not only have athletes recognized that it can help them perform better, but it is recognized by the medical industry for its healing benefits. And, naturally the fact that our role models, celebrities and athletes, and doctors are attracted to it opens it up to the masses. There are all types of yoga out there now. Something for everybody. Yoga has become a legitimate business and lifestyle.
MK: What's your yogalosophy?
MI: I took the yoga practice and combined it with my philosophy. You can really bring yoga into all that you do. I believe that having the body you want begins with loving the body you have. We don't have to wait until we lose a few pounds to start enjoying our bodies. We can begin exactly where we are. I believe in this type of acceptance on all levels. Mentally, emotionally and physically. I use monthly, weekly and daily intention setting, which I share on Twitter, Facebook and MandyIngber.com. There are multiple motivational techniques, and they go in cycles. Sometimes, "just do it" works, and other times, I need nurture. ... I guide my classes that way, and I try to provide that same support on my website's Yogalosophy blog and the other social media outlets. It's pretty simple: intention, acceptance and practice. Give it meaning, use what you've got to fuel you and show up regularly.
Why Yogalosophy is good for beginners
MI: I think so! It's fun. I created a hybrid practice that entails a yoga pose alternating with a toning exercise. It is very challenging, but the poses are simple. I wanted to create something that was challenging enough for people who were already athletic but hadn't tried yoga and make it simple enough for the beginner to imitate. I have gotten great feedback from people who wanted to try yoga but felt intimidated or felt it was too slow. There are three options revolving around the same 30-minute routine, which includes a coaching session, guiding the viewer and instructing. There is a nonverbal version with affirmations that float in the background, with a great soundtrack by amazing artists who contributed to the project. Lastly, there is a fully loaded version that strings together all of the extras around the 30-minute routine. This is for once the beginner has mastered the first two, plus extras. The DVD includes four yoga extras, which are three- to seven-minute add-ons, specifically a five-minute stretch, three-minute balance and core series and a five-minute lower body strength section, as well as a view of the sun salute, which is the cardiovascular and flow aspect to yoga.
MK: If a woman is struggling with her weight or trying to lose weight, how can she adopt an attitude of acceptance and love her body as it is?
MI Have you ever heard that saying, "You can't think your way into correct action, but you can act your way to right thinking"? Action. Start where you are. Stop the cycle of procrastination—"After I lose 10 pounds, then I will..." Just taking the action to move your body will start to help you to enjoy your body.
Notice and list all of the things you are grateful for: that you can move your body, the feeling of taking deep breaths, the fact that you keep waking up and trying, that your body is constantly in a state of healing itself.
Eliminate negative thinking about your body. At first, you may only notice how hard you are on yourself. We tend to have habitual thought patterns. Replace it with something positive. Instead of, "My thighs are big," think, "I love my feminine shape."
Emotions are fuel! Joy, anger, grief...these very powerful emotions are just energy. Celebrate your body! You already have a perfect body! Move with joy!
Think about a relationship with someone you love. It requires thought and care, being kind, giving. Exercise and Yoga are things you can do to let your body experience that self-loving. If you think of yourself as your own child, you may feed yourself better. Would you let your child begin the day with a coffee and cake? Sometimes, thinking in terms of children, dogs and plants...all of these living things require consistency to feel stable and supported.
Sometimes finding a group with people who have similar struggles can help. Sometimes a class you really love can help. It is amazing to be able to hear other people's perspectives. We are all here to help each other!
Acknowledge yourself! You know, nobody is going to cower away from you if you are as big and as incredible as you are. If you outwardly acknowledge and love yourself, it is absolutely contagious!
I actually had an experience when I had gained 50 pounds in my early 20s. I went from being too skinny to chubby. I remember when I made the decision to shift. I looked at myself in the mirror, naked. I was in Italy and had been overdoing it. It was the heaviest I'd ever been, but I really took myself in. I had gotten away from myself, but even so, I could still see my body underneath a few extra layers, but it was there. After that, it seemed to fall into place naturally. Once I saw the body underneath, it was a matter of time before it was revealed. And I say that to you: The body you want is already in the room. It just may be concealed underneath a layer or two, but that body is there!
The power of the number eight
MI: I chose that number because eight is a power number. It represents power and abundance, infinity, endless resources of energy in the universe to manifest in our lives! (I like to give my life meaning, even if it is me doing my squats after my chair pose. I want it to mean something!)
MK: What's your vision for your life?
MI: My vision is that I am fully self-expressed. That every facet of my personality is integrated. Flaws, strengths and all! I have created the Visionmat, which is similar to O Dream Board. I include my goals and dreams in all areas where I have challenges and am looking to transform—my personality, finances, communication, home life, family, creativity, play, service, work, health, relationships, education, travel, career, community and the subconscious. I address all of these areas with an image and allow it to seep in subliminally. Then, I make the board and have the Visionmat created, which is a photo of that board made into a yoga mat. This is the perfect place, because it inspires me and allows me to be with my dreams and goals for an hour while I am practicing my yoga.
MK: Why do you think it's important to have a vision for your life?
MI: It gives everything a meaning and a greater purpose. A framework to live by. I always say: I never had a dream that didn't come true. (I've also never had a fear that didn't come true!) Honestly, even when something occurs that I don't understand, I try to drop to my knees and thank the universe for all the goodness that is coming from this thing that I don't understand...and even for the pain. I try to be grateful for all of it. It feels personally empowering to have a vision and then to observe it unfold.
MK: With celebrity clientele and a demanding schedule, how do you find time to balance, unwind and have fun?
MI: This is a great question! I am a natural-born doer and thinker. I am constantly on myself to be more productive even before I had these demands. Just like everyone, sometimes I need to take a few things off of the list, pause, make a date with myself. The things I enjoy are driving up Pacific Coast Highway and getting a tea, going to a bookstore. I love chatting with girlfriends. Taking a neighborhood walk. I am planning on getting a bike! To be honest, my own exercise program and yoga practice is how I unwind and have fun...that's how I became an instructor in the first place. I really love it!
Watch Mandy share the meaning of yogalosophy
Mandy Ingber is one of the most popular yoga and fitness instructors in Los Angeles. She has been selling out classes and motivating people for more than 15 years. Mandy has been named "Best of LA" in LA Weekly and Los Angeles Magazine for the motivation and inspiration of her classes. Mandy's new yoga-hybrid DVD Yogalosophy is currently available.