Mandy Ingber is a celebrity fitness and wellness expert whose 20 years of teaching experience have attracted such clients as Jennifer Aniston, Kate Beckinsale, Helen Hunt, Ricki Lake, Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Meyer and Brooke Shields. She is the New York Times best-selling author of Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover, and creator of the yoga-hybrid DVD Yogalosophy. Her new book Yogalosophy for Inner Strength: 12 Weeks to Heal Your Heart and Embrace Joy is out now. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Many people talk about the mind-body connection and how what we think can affect our physical self. What I have found even more than the mental connection, is that the emotions rule the body. When I am grieving or angry, my body plays the stories out through illness or injury. This also works in the reverse: when I take physical action, I am able to reroute my emotions and to use that energy productively.
In my new book, Yogalosophy For Inner Strength: 12 Weeks to Heal Your Heart and Embrace Joy, I provide action exercises, meditations, recipes, creative activities and natural DIY prescriptions for getting your emotional body into shape.
Here are five ways to embody emotional wellness:
1. Claim your solitude.
Have you ever heard the quote, “Don’t just do something, sit there?” Before you find a way to channel your emotional energy, you must take time to be still and actually feel. Meditation is a simple tool for becoming present.
It was Helen Hunt who taught me to incorporate a consistent meditation practice. Her consistency – even when she was at her busiest and most public – was inspiration to me. It was a reminder that no matter how public your life is, you must have a private life that you return to.
When I went through a break-up last year, I was jonesing for my partner. But just like going to the gym, I learned to sit with this craving daily. I learned to make friends with my desperation. Eventually, I gained a sense of mastery over the feeling, and soon sitting with the feeling allowed me to claim it. In so doing, I found the comfort and power of being in solitude.
YOUR EMOTIONAL WELLNESS ACTION: MEDITATION
2. Be your own mother.
I think of exercise as the father of the body and nutrition as the mother. On a very basic level, self-mothering means nourishing yourself. I remember hearing that the mother/child relationship was the one relationship we make to break. Therefore, at some point, no matter how much you love your own mother, you must step up and begin to give yourself a foundation of emotional nurturing.
In the old days when I was an actress myself, I would deprive myself of the nurture I so needed. I literally starved myself in the ’80s, hoping that the large feelings I was having would disappear with each pound that I lost. After years of struggling with body image, first being emaciated and later gaining 50 lbs., I finally leveled out.
To my surprise, it was not through dieting, but by consuming a healthy diet of whole foods that allowed my body to fall into place quite naturally. I took care to hold myself in kindness, the way a good mother would, and to fill myself with delicious healthy and hearty foods that satisfied me. I now enjoy the feeling of being fed. Cooking yourself a meal is a wonderful way to put mothering into action.
YOUR EMOTIONAL WELLNESS ACTION: COOK A HEALTHY DISH FOR YOURSELF
Here is a heart-healthy recipe from my new book:
Roasted Root Vegetables
Olive oil (to coat vegetables)
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper
1. Heat oven to 450°F.
2. Chop vegetables into 1-inch squares. Combine in a bowl and coat with the olive oil, rosemary and vinegar.
3. Roast the veggies until browned. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Jump start your heart by playing like a kid.
Your body is an amazing tool. One of the best ways to lift your spirits and elevate your mood is to get your body moving and to get your heart pumping blood to all your extremities.
Yoga poses like wheel or bridge will lift your mood by opening your chest cavity. Walking or spinning is sure to get your heart pumping. But nothing moves your heart quite like play. Finding a recreational activity that brings you back to when you were a kid is one of the best ways to find contentment.
Remember when you were young and you would play so hard all day? When the days seemed to go on forever, and at the end of the day you felt totally and completely touched inside and out? I like to find that feeling as an adult.
I remember the year when I turned 25. For my birthday, I decided that I was going to have a giant game of Capture the Flag in the park. I invited all my friends, and after a warm-up round of Simon Says we split into teams and had massive fun playing the game all day long. I was getting calls all week from people saying how much fun they had, and how sore their bodies were.
We weren’t playing the game for a workout, we were playing the game for fun. Becoming child-like has many benefits. It brings you into a space of openness, possibility and presence.
YOUR EMOTIONAL WELLNESS ACTION: PLAY!
4. Widen your circle.
Friendship and community is the foundation of service. Loving and being loved is essential to your health and your happiness. No matter how glamorous it can look from the outside and no matter what your #squad looks like, we all need supportive, loving friends who are willing to hold space for us, be our witness, share their stories with us, and uplift us by holding us to the highest sense of our true nature.
I know firsthand that the Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Chelsea Handler, Sandra Bullock, Sia #squad is supporting in just that way. It feels heartfelt. It is important to surround yourself with supportive friends, and to be a witness and a supporter.
The physical action that you can do daily is hug. Hugging lowers the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol and increases the level of the “love hormone,” oxytocin. According to one study, a 10-second hug lowers the risk of heart disease, for it boosts your immune system, eases depression, fights fatigue and reduces stress, increasing your happiness and emotional vitality.
EMOTIONAL WELLNESS ACTION: GET FIVE HUGS A DAY
5. Follow your heart’s desire.
Nobody knows what makes your heart sing like you do. You have a special place on the planet that is yours alone, and your particular vantage point has value in this world. We learn from one another in this way. Become aligned with your joy.
When you are on purpose, you contribute to the world by simply being you. It’s essential to find your connection to that joy and to follow your heart. Even when it doesn’t make sense to anyone else, I encourage you to listen to the small voice inside. The outside world will always question it, but you can find a touchstone within.
I find that having a power object reminds me to stay connected to my heart. I have a rose quartz crystal that I can put in my pocket. I also have a ring that I got myself, which represents protection. Staying open to what your heart wants requires consistent attention. Listen and learn.
EMOTIONAL WELLNESS ACTION: FIND A POWER OBJECT
Emotions are so powerful. What we feel can plunge us to our depths and motivate us beyond our wildest dreams. Learning to harness this powerful energy will bring you to a state of self-mastery.