Let’s just start by saying Mandy Ingber is more than Hollywood’s hottest yoga-trainer to the stars. Sure, her Rolodex of clients includes the likes of Brooke Shields, Kate Beckinsale and Jennifer Aniston, but having had the pleasure of meeting her a few times, and doing yoga with her too, this woman is as down-to-earth, genuine, as they come.
Creator and teacher of Yogalosophy, a methodology Mandy champions for improving one’s physical and emotional health, she is also a best-selling author and teacher, residing in sunny California.
Like most of us however, her past wasn’t always so sunny.
Growing-up, her Father was somewhat obsessed with yoga, exposing her to a very diligent, very extreme form of practice. Along with carrying body and weight issues, Mandy experienced the highs of lows of being an actress in LA, taking on various jobs to make a living. (Interesting fact, Mandy was once a spinning instructor, pre-Soul Cycle craze. Her classes so popular, she became the ‘it’ girl, drawing celebs, wait-lists and sell-outs regularly.)
Fast forward to today, and she’s a positive force of energy and spirit. And that’s what we love about Mandy. She doesn’t dwell on the negative, but sees each day as opportunity for personal growth and joy – both on and off the mat.
We recently got a chance to ask Mandy some questions about her secrets to being so famously popular, what we can do to improve our own practice, and yes, what Jen Aniston is really like too.
Here’s the download:
Q: In your latest book, Yogalosophy for Inner Strength: 12 weeks to heal your heart and embrace joy, you give us a new approach to overcoming difficult set-backs, such as a heartbreak or job loss. Instead of dwelling on the doom and gloom, you say get moving. Be alive in your body. Sounds easy enough, however most us would rather curl-up to a bag of chips. Tips?
A: Sometimes just getting out of bed feels like work – I get it! My advice is really to start small and go from there. Don’t wait to be inspired. Make your decision to get active and then move with intention. And think about it – the amount of energy to get off the couch and open a bag of chips, is not far off in-comparison to getting off the couch and just moving! One makes you feel kinda lousy after, whereas the other, doesn’t. And the more you do this action repetitively, the more it’ll become habit over time. No one can do it for you, but you! If it helps, get a buddy, keep a journal, put your yoga clothes on earlier in the day. Find ways to keep yourself accountable. And do it regularly. Repetition is key and over time, being active will be a non-negotiable part of your day.
Q: What’s it like teaching yoga in California, the hub of Hollywood stars, plastic surgery and (generalizing) women with bank accounts most of us can only dream of?
A: I grew up in California and was once an actress too. Despite this, I’ve never subscribed to focusing on one’s appearance or status. Not to mention having all that ‘stuff’ doesn’t take away the human condition. We all face our struggles, and have stress to deal with. My focus has always been on the inside – the inner child in us all – rather than external. It’s not about botox or celebrity stuff. I really don’t pay attention to any of it.
Q: From reading your bio, you share periods of your life that were just plain hard. Unemployed, overweight, physically assaulted, the list goes on. Do you look back on those days and wonder how you’ve come so far?
A: We all have our ‘stories’ for sure. For me, the hardest, most difficult points I’ve had have all contributed to my self growth over time. They’ve taught me I can get through pretty much anything. I’m reminded by a quote in that it’s not so much about the negative experience, it’s how we react to them that’s most telling about ourselves.
Q: Looking at you, your physique, your skin and hair – clearly, you’re proof we can all age beautifully. Care to share any Mandy ‘musts’ for aging so well?
A: Seriously? Well for starters, I see a wrinkle some days and cringe! But mostly, I attribute my appearance and youthful energy to healthy habits I’ve developed over time. I don’t do fad diets. I eat pretty healthy, drink lots of water, and stay active. I meditate daily, aim for 8 hours of sleep when I can get it, and really try to do things that are joyful. Consistent healthy habits I suppose. I also bring a curiosity like a child to my work, so I think I’m often seen as more youthful than my real age.
Q: For those new to Yogalosophy, can you speak a little to what makes it so uniquely effective?
A:It’s accessible and forgiving. It’s not about being rigid or serious. It’s about incorporating the traditional foundations of yoga into today’s lifestyle. I created it to be something for everyone to enjoy and benefit from. Growing up, I was immersed in the hard, serious kind of yoga. My Dad was an extreme yogi. For me, it was a lot to see, and quite heavy. Funny enough, I think my purpose has become de-mystifying yoga, and making it less about the heavy I went through as a child including eating disorders, poor self esteem, and turn it around for every one to try it – and hopefully like it.
Q: Okay, Jennifer Aniston. Is she as enduring and down to earth as she comes across in interviews and the like?
A: We’ve joked that she should have been born in her 40s, cause she’s having the best years of her life now! She really is down to earth, naturally happy and very generous – and a very loving – woman. Everyone around her is well loved, like really. She’s such a giver! And I believe it all comes back to her. When she and I first started yoga together, I believe it helped her shift and grow in meaningful ways – just as she’s been a great influence in my life. We go back pre-Friends, so we know each other well.
Q: When people hear we do yoga and teach it too, they more often say ‘I’m not flexible. I could never…’ What’s your way of responding to such?
A: Just because someone is more flexible, it doesn’t mean they’re any better or stronger. Not to mention, the person who’s really flexible sometimes has to work harder to get deeper into a pose. We all have our gifts and we’re all unique. There’s no ‘body type’ that’s right or wrong for yoga. Key is that you try, and you’ll see for yourself.
Q: How about for those with lower back issues?
A: Yoga can help back issues – but for me, I’ve had injuries and have herniations in my spine, so it’s not a cure-all in any regards. Depending on the issue, some poses can be harmful so it’s not wise to think yoga can always help. You really have to go further than just ‘listening’ to your body as people will say. It’s about getting to the root of what’s causing the pain or discomfort. Like when a light in your car’s dashboard goes off. You can ignore it, but it’s not going to go away until you get out the instruction manual and figure out what’s going on. I’m no mechanic, so I go to a therapist, and suggest the same for others.
Q: Hot yoga. Your thoughts?
A: I like hot yoga, but I’m open to all kinds and varieties of yoga. I don’t think it’s the ‘end-all, be-all’ of yoga as some chalk it up as such. But I’m certainly not against it. Whatever suits your fancy really.
Q: We’ve been on a few yoga retreats (and loved), and wonder if you host and/or would consider?
A: I’ve done retreats in the past, but it’s not my focus. I enjoy my regular weekend at the Omega Institute, but going away and leading retreats aren’t really my thing. I’d rather just travel to far off places on my own! Or go to a retreat. I like to check out new studios and classes in my area, so those keep me inspired too. I have a bunch I intend to cross of my list, including Tantris which looks pretty cool. One of my favourites, Steve Ross, is teaching there, so I hope to get there soon.
And now for the bullet round…
Q: Favourite snack food?
A: I love marcona almonds, sliced apples with cinnamon and salt. I also love dark chocolate and eat it daily.
Q: Beauty products you can’t get enough of?
A:I love, love Persephenie products including the Saffron Rose Oil for skin.
Q: A gift or hidden talent people would be surprised to learn?
A:I’m pretty good at drawing. I’m also good at Scrabble, does that count?
Q: Your idea of a perfect day?
A: It’d have to include a beach walk. Hand-holding with a boy I like. A dance class maybe. Go to a restaurant I haven’t tried. Meet new people. I love meeting and connecting with new faces. Finished with a delicious farm to table meal.
Q: A destination or two on your travel bucket-list?
A: I’d like to go to Bali. A bicycle trip through Spain or Italy would be lots of fun too.