With awards season just behind us, it's important to remember that not only does yoga tone arms and trim waistlines (Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lawrence make for great model examples of the slimming results of this practice), but it also promotes self-love by connecting to the heart.
Here are my top tips for a healthy heart:
1. Treat Yourself. Nothing is sweeter than a little a dairy-free chocolate to lift your spirits at the end of a yoga practice. My favorite is Zen Bunni Grey Salt. It is dairy-free and sweetened with agave. Dark chocolate is a good-for-you treat. Be sure to infuse your chocolate with good intentions. The mind is very powerful. Before you savor it, take a few deep breaths. As you inhale, imagine all of the goodness and sweetness of your life expanding, and as you exhale, release worry and judgement. Enjoy!
2. Partner Yoga. The couple that yogas together, stays together! Try the Infinity Twist with a partner for a new twist on your detoxing. In yoga, not only do we target the muscles, tendons and ligaments, but the internal organs begin to beam with health. Yoga is like a pump—while in a pose we are cutting off the blood flow, and then as we release the pose, we are flooded with all sorts of happiness, hormones and oxygen.
(Before you take this twist, look into the eyes of your partner and smile. Smiling will actually change the chemistry in your body and will reduce unneeded stress and increases happiness!)
Infinity Twist: Sit cross-legged and face each other, knees touching. Inhale and lengthen the spine, as you exhale twist to the right and reach your right arm behind you. With your right hand, hold your partner's left hand (and s/he should do the same). Take a few breaths as you pull gently. Change sides.
3. Heart Health. When you engage in cardiovascular activity, you strengthen your heart. A brisk walk in nature, interval training (like spinning with sprints or Tabata), or Sun Salutations will increase your heart health.
Remember that your heart is a muscle, and be intentional when you engage in cardio activity. Imagine that your heart is getting stronger so that you are able to give and receive more love. Love is a very motivating force!
4. Supported Bridge Pose. All back bends are heart-openers, and they create more space in your chest and lungs. Back bends increase your energy levels, so best to do these in the morning.
Place a yoga brick underneath your sacrum where you feel supported. Allow your arms to relax with the palms open up towards the sky. Allow the opening to happen and breathe into your heart. Feel the self-love you are engaged in. If you have a partner, come to Child's Pose, and support your partner in a back bend, while you partner deepens your Child's Pose.
Mandy Ingber is a celebrity fitness & wellness expert and author of Yogalosophy: 28-Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover. Jennifer Aniston, Kate Beckinsale and Helen Hunt have all credited Mandy for their A-list bodies. Connect with Mandy via Facebook and Twitter.