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Talking Yogalosophy with Mandy Ingber

Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.


Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way: Mandy Ingber is Jennifer Aniston's yoga instructor and she works with many celebrities and wealthy clients in California who can afford private lessons from a "celebrity yoga instructor."
I had all these ideas about what it must be like to be her. What it's like to travel the world, stay in fancy hotels and create a yoga lifestyle company. All these ideas made me really nervous to meet Mandy at the Elysian Hotel on Thursday for tea. Would she be short? Fake nice? Would she snap at me if I mentioned Jennifer Aniston's name? Turns out Mandy is smart, very real, humble and very passionate about yoga. 
Just talking with her about Yogalosophy, the name she gives her combination of yoga and toning exercise plus her outlook on life, made me want to rush home and practice yoga, start loving myself a little more and really open up to all the goodness the universe has in store for me.
I truly hope that everyone reading this interview gets a chance to see Mandy at some point this weekend. Tonight, she's doing a free vision mat workshop (see below for more info on that) at the lululemon Rush St. store (not sure if space is available, contact the store for more info). Saturday morning she's back at Rush leading the free morning yoga class before doing a DVD signing and then she's off to the Michigan avenue store for another signing from 1-3pm. Your dad was really into yoga and you started doing it at a young age with him. When did you know you wanted to teach yoga? That took awhile. I always considered yoga something that was a huge part of my life, but having grown up with it, I wasn't planning on passing this along. It was just sort of embedded in me since my childhood. I changed career paths at 28 and became a spin instructor. I started teaching groups about health and wellness and people use to say this is like a yoga class on a bike. People got that from me anyway I would set an intention and try to connect people with breath into their body. It was very yogic. Six years later, I was in a great relationship and doing really well as a cycling instructor. I was like this guru of cycling, my classes went from me teaching 3 people to 30 to 60 and I knew it was something I should be doing. I knew I should be teaching. Then my boyfriend and I broke up and my father was dying of cancer. Pretty much the second my dad passed away I started getting all these offers to work with people teaching yoga. I started to follow along that path. I was already a teacher, so that was really easy and I knew yoga really well, so it was really about coming to terms with finding my own yoga and really owning it. It helped that my dad passed away because I don't think I would have felt like I was up to par because my dad was a yogi until the day he died. When he was going through chemotherapy he was still doing yoga. So I think it just sort of happened and fell into place. Then obviously Jennifer Aniston mentioned me in something and from there it became a public affair. It was really organic, it's not like I planned it at all. When did you really start to see Yogalosophy take shape? When did you give it that name and decide it was something you wanted to give to people? Well, people would say to me in my classes you need to write a book or have a daily reader or planner. It was because I was always using my experiences, my story and things that I study, different philosophies. I read the other day that it's yoga and astrology, which isn't exactly true. I was looking at ways to motivate people that were beyond just physical. That's the fusion I think. I came up with it several years ago. It was like well, it's your philosophy with yoga, so Yogalosophy! Part of my mission is to incorporate all aspects of who I am to inspire others to self love. I didn't know that when I set this mission for myself what it was going to entail because I'm a pretty complex person with a fairly complex history, so being able to fuse together all these elements is healing for me too. How do you help clients let go of negative mindsets and improve their body image? It's easier in classes, to tell you the truth because every individual has their unique set of things that motivate them and trigger them. Most people just need the space to discover what are their triggers. I didn't know what made me feel better when I was grieving until I discovered it for myself. It really wasn't someone putting their arm around me all the time. I had to discover that driving up the coast by myself grabbing a cup of tea and going to the spiritual bookstore made me feel better. So I think it's more like, I help to contain people where they are and let them find it for themselves. I think yoga is a great model for how we can do things in our lives. If you can be patient with yourself in a process, you can achieve almost anything. It's like the quote, anything worth doing is worth doing badly. A big part of Yogalosophy is setting intentions. It's easy to forget that in yoga when you get to a point where you're really challenged. What's one thing that you try to encourage people to do to remember their intentions? So, when you're doing yoga, it's always about coming back to the breath, right? A teacher reminds you to breathe and come back to your intention, a teacher brings you back to the present. Usually when I come back to my intention is when I notice that I've lost it. Just even setting an intention allows you to come back to it during a practice. Let's say it's getting really intense and you want to quit then it's like, oh my intention is to have a little more patience or to love my body a little more. Loving your body is always the best intention. There's no reason not to. I make better choices and changes when I accept myself for who I am. How did you come up with the idea of a vision mat? This company Yogamatic, they make custom mats, came to me and wanted to do something with me. I went in and met with them and they were the coolest. They were like, what do you want your mat to be? And I said the thing that I do is a vision board and I set my intentions. And they said, great let's put it on a mat! Let's make the Mandy Ingber vision mat and I loved that. Can you imagine a better place to have your vision board? You don't always want to have it out when people come to your house and when you're on your mat, you're actually on your vision board for an hour. It's such a great way for it to subliminally go into your mind and in your body and the images for me, when I see things that inspire me, I get excited and it really excites me and that's part of the emotional energy that allows me to have a great practice. I found that everything on my vision board from 2007, 2008 and 209, they've all happened. This is the best time of year to do a vision board. Winter is about reflection and letting go of things. Spring is all about action. So, that's how I came up with it, I mentioned it and they facilitated it. What's one thing on your vision mat right now? When you do a vision mat, you should ask for what you want. The one from 2007-2008 is happening now. It's good to have goals but things sort of happen when they're supposed to. I put an amount of money on my mat in 2008 and it's going to happen this year. One of the things I have is a picture of a moon with a child with its feet up against the moon and I put the word "teach" against it. I put my website, how I wanted it to be and the word "yogalosophy." There's a picture of me with butterflies coming out of my heart, it's basically humble beginnings, extraordinary results. When you start seeing those pictures that resonate with you, you'll know what they are. You've been teaching for 15 years in LA, but most people know you as Jennifer Aniston's yoga instructor or a celebrity yoga instructor. How do you balance that with getting your authenticity out there and being seen as a serious instructor?
That's a great question. That's the dilemma. It's really easy to buy into the publicity of it all, too. I use to be an actress when I was younger [ed. note: the video above is of a young Mandy in the movie "Teen Witch"]. I didn't know how to handle it then. I didn't know how to stay within my authentic self. I was never uncomfortable with it, but I didn't know how to accept it and also be me. I think having that dress rehearsal of being more public was a good thing for me to have. I'm more grounded. I have to check in with myself daily. Am I in my integrity? What am I sharing? I always have to remember what I'm sharing because that's really what I'm doing. I want to share with others and help others be confident with themselves. I have so much gratitude for being able to reach so many more people now because of Jennifer Aniston. That's a huge part of this experience for me, that I've been given such a gift from this person backing me up so strongly. There's this stigma in our society like don't be selfish, don't be seen. Express yourself, but not really. So I think it's the same thing like, be proud of who you are but to a point. So, I think it's important to be yourself and if that means you get to be Jennifer Aniston's yoga instructor you get to be that. I have literally seen the yoga community grow, have been a part of it and seen it happen. I've taken many teachers classes extensively. I feel pretty grounded in my practice and who I am as a yogi. If anything I feel like, the yoga community can be very exclusive and elitist and my goal is to not have it be that and to bring it more to the general public, which is happening because Jennifer Aniston does yoga! You know what I mean? For someone who has never done yoga before, why do you think Yogalosophy is a good DVD for them to check out? I think yogalosophy is a great DVD and is a great intro to the new person first of all because it's very real. It has a lot of humor. It's like you have a girlfriend it with you and it's not intimidating at all. The connection between the yoga pose and the toner, the hybrid aspect of it, makes it more familiar to people who haven't done a lot of yoga before. Plus, the yoga I'm doing is fairly basic. There's a 30-mintue routine version, it's a pretty basic sequence, no pretzel poses and I think that it's important for people to feel like they have something that they can do. So I don't feel like anything in the video is going to be intimidating to people who've never done it before. It's going to feel familiar and I'm funny in it! (She laughs).



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