We’ve spent the last two weeks exploring inner strength through our minds and bodies (refresh here and here) with celeb yoga goddess Mandy Ingber. Now we’re getting into the heart of the matter with a week of exercises for flexing our feels.

Mandy’s new book, Yogalosophy for Inner Strength, unpacks the concept of strength in terms we can relate to, especially when it comes to the emotional stuff. This week’s challenge includes making an emo playlist, a pretty intense emotional workout, and – of course – heart-opening yoga.

Give a hug, get a hug and try one of these simple practices every day this week to feel the incredible mind-body power of an intelligent heart. These ideas might seen simplistic in print, but put them into action and just watch life shift. We’re diving straight in with seven more days of inner strength…

Inner strength for the heart means emotional connection. Allowing yourself to be open and unguarded is a strength all its own. This week’s challenge asks you to reach out and take the risk of vulnerability. Yes, loving fiercely, and with abandon, opens us to being hurt, but it also allows the opportunity to bond deeply and have a rich, full life.

monday: Give and receive hugs
Get your daily dose of five hugs today. Hugging lowers the level of the stress hormone cortisol and increases the “love hormone,” oxytocin. A 10-second hug lowers your risk of heart disease because it boosts your immune system, eases depression and fights fatigue. Hugs strengthen your heart!

All back-bend poses are designed to open your heart. You must build up to these postures by warming up first, but any pose where you are opening your chest cavity and making room in that area is energizing and enlivening. Cobra. Upward-facing dog. Camel. Bridge. Wheel. Dancer’s pose. These are some of my favorites.

Wednesday: Emotional Wellness Workout – Feel all the feels
Try this exercise: For one minute, feel absolute rage. Scream, swear, pound on a pillow. Let loose and feel your anger. You will see that one minute actually goes by very slowly (just in case you thought your life was passing you by too quickly.) Next, allow yourself to feel sadness. Deep sadness. Wail. Cry. Even if at first you are pretending. Then fake cry. Let your heart open up the well of grief that you feel. For one whole minute. Lastly, laugh. Fake laugh, go over the top. Slap your knee. Laugh loudly. Sometimes laugh until you cry and until you are really laughing for one minute. It is healthy to feel your feelings and to be responsible for feeling them. Allow this.

thursday: Make a LOVE playlist that expresses your emotions
Music is the fabric that brings us together emotionally. Nothing showed this to me more than teaching my spinning classes. Music bonds us through emotion. When we hear a song about struggle or pain that we recognize, it reminds us that we are not alone. These feelings are universal. I love evoking emotion through my playlists. Create your own, or enjoy a playlist from my latest book.

Friday: Say “YES”
Experiment with saying yes to whatever comes your way today. Whether it is an invitation, a favor or a feeling, say yes to it. For a year when my New Year’s resolution was ‘yes,’ so many incredible things happened. When you say yes, you gain momentum and life unfolds itself to you rapidly.

Saturday: Be of service to another
Meals on wheels, holding babies in a hospital, giving a helping hand by carrying someone’s groceries or babysitting for a friend in need – giving to others builds our self esteem and taps into the compassion in our hearts. Find a way to help others and your happiness level will grow.

Sunday: Be Childlike
One of the best ways to open your heart is to have beginner’s mind and to be like a child, open, and unassuming. Ways to do this are varied, but one thing that can help you along is to do a childhood activity like jumping rope, riding a bike, eating an ice cream cone, wearing a onesie or skipping. View the world as if it is the very first time you are experiencing it.

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