Get Stronger Physically – and Emotionally – with Celebrity Wellness Expert Mandy Ingber’s Best Exercises for Building Inner Strength

05/31/2016 at 02:16 PM ET

Mandy IngberAstrid Stawiarz/Getty

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.

You know that working out makes you feel better and more confident because you get physically stronger and look fit, but I’d like to share with you some ways that you can take physical exercise to a new level to help heal your heart, and build an inner strength that empowers you far beyond how you look.

It’s no secret that I’ve worked with celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Kate Beckinsale and Helen Hunt. These women have more than just incredible physiques – they have an inner strength, grace and comfort in their own skin, no matter what life serves up. I am equally honored to teach and learn from these powerful role models.

Even so, everyone has their down cycles, and it’s important to rely upon some tangible activities that can increase your healing quotient.

In my book, Yogalosophy for Inner Strength, I offer you a routine for each day of the week that will empower you to be the healthiest and most balanced you. Each way of targeting the body has a unique effect.

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Here is a sampler:

Breath of joy
Your breath is a very powerful tool. This breathing exercise will clear your lungs and increase your capacity for oxygen. Each organ is related to an emotion, and the lungs are related to grief. When you clear your lungs, you eliminate grief and sadness. Before you can feel joy, you may need to allow yourself to feel other unsavory emotions. This is an effective way to give you a boost.

Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Swing your arms up overhead as you take a sip of air in through your nose.

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Swing your arms out to the side and take another sip of air. Swing your arms up again as you take your third and last sip in.

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Then let your torso swing all the way down on an exhale through your mouth, and swing back up.

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Repeat for 5 minutes or 12 rounds, and you will be laughing and buzzing by the last one.

Seated forward bend
Forward bends relax your nervous system. This helps your body to heal, allows you to get better sleep, and prepares you for meditation. It will literally turn your focus and attention inward.

Begin in a seated position with your legs extended. If this is uncomfortable, sit on a yoga block or on a firm pillow with your hips elevated. On an inhale, lengthen, reach up and extend your torso. On an exhale fold forward and reach for your shins or feet. Remain here for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

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Notice how relaxed you are when you come out of the pose.

Bridge pose
Back bending postures are heart-openers. They literally create space in the lungs and chest cavity, allowing more opening and space for the heart. In yoga, the key to staying youthful is a flexible spine. Bridge pose will offer you that benefit. Flexibility in the body will translate into your mindset as well. No matter what twists and turns your life offers you, your ability to be adaptable and flexible will help you to stay open to all of the hidden gifts that difficulty may offer.

Begin on your back, with your knees bent and feet hip width apart. Graze your heels with your fingertips to make sure your feet are aligned under your knees. Press down with your feet in order to raise your hips up. Clasp your hands underneath you and wriggle up on your shoulders. Hold for 5 breaths or 30 seconds. Unclasp your hands and slowly lower down, one vertebra at a time. Hug knees to chest. Repeat 3 times.

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I developed my signature Yogalosophy hybrid routine to incorporate the healing power of yoga with the sculpting benefits of toning exercises to create an effective workout that is fun. I have also added weights for strengthening. Outer strength can be a great model for inner strength, for we can see the results that come from moving beyond what we think we cannot endure.

Here is a sample routine. You can use 2-lb. weights or no weights. Do two rounds of each pair of exercises.

Chair pose/squats

Sink into chair pose. Raise your arms up by your ears, palms face each other. Hold for 30 seconds.

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Rise up and separate your feet hip-width apart.

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Squat for 8 reps, and then pulse down faster with a smaller range of motion for 8 reps.

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Repeat entire sequence.

Chair pose + chest press/squats + overhead shoulder press

Sit in chair pose with your weights in your palms, arms in an “L” shape in front of your face.

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Fan open your arms and bring them back together for 8 reps while you hold chair.

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Rise up and separate your feet hip-width apart with arms at a 90-degree shoulder height.

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Each time as you squat, press your arms straight overhead and as you stand up, and bring your elbows back to shoulder level for 8 reps.

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Repeat entire sequence.

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