Winter is coming, as the kids say, and it’s time to start asking pointed questions and rifling through Amazon browsing histories to drum up gift ideas. The holidays represent an opportunity for family members and friends of yogis to make a meaningful effort to contribute to their loved ones’ practice with a specialty gift. However, yoga gift-giving can be mystifying. For outsiders, it can be a disorienting world, and not every yoga-related product is one-size-fits-all. Here are a few tips.
When shopping for a yogi, it’s better to start a few rungs down in terms of necessity to their practice. Many regard mats and other staples as too essential, and the decisions too individual, to leave to well-meaning relatives with a different sense of style, or whoever drew their name as an office Secret Santa partner. Your love for your sister-in-law doesn’t mean you’re likely to remember her height or guess her preferred mat thickness (or know about the mat she’s been eyeing in the shop at her local studio for two months).
Even if the yogi in your life is just starting out, they’ve undoubtedly heard the usefulness of blocks plugged in class. While not essential, blocks can be used to blunt the intensity of some poses, while improving one’s range in others. However, composition matters: experts who write for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pro Tip blog recommend foam over cork for Sleeping Pigeon and other rejuvenating poses, but endorse cork for struggles with stability.
Blocks of any type have a great deal of applications, but it’s still helpful to consider who you’re shopping for: Does your loved one instinctively avoid headstands? Do they shy away from mat-to-forehead contact? Some sleuthing may pay off, and help you ensure your favorite yogi’s new block becomes a staple in their practice.
Other yoga accessories you may consider gifting are mat cases/holders, straps, facial towels and mat-cleaning spray.
Hung By The Chimney With Self-Care
Distinctive as yoga may be, the self-care needs of yogis overlap with those of other types of athletes. Principle among these? Foot care. Reinvigorate your loved one’s foot care regimen with a starter kit of the essentials, including moisture-rich lotions. Feel free to explore yoga-specific accessories, including socks, but again, do some digging: while some yogis are dead-set against footwear, others selectively incorporate them (including my friend Natalie, who wears yoga socks to allow for better mat grip in humidity.)
Hair accessories can be a bonafide hit, but let your observations sharpen your choices. Headbands are a mainstay for long-haired yogis looking to ward off beading sweat and obstructions in their field of view, but many prefer to braid their hair out of the way. If you’re shopping for someone who has a road-tested hair routine in place, don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel; spare pieces (or replacements for those forever lost under one’s car seats) can be godsends, and make thoughtful gifts.
A nice water bottle or sunscreen could make great options as well.
Bring the Studio to Them
Does your loved one’s studio or gym feature any merchandise for sale? Find out! Enlist staff along the way to help in your selection.
Is peace at home elusive for your yogi? Consult their studio to see whether music, scents and other trappings that set the mood can be purchased, allowing that ambiance to be taken home.
Outside of the Box
Still stumped? Consider a studio gift certificate! Far from a cop-out, gift certificates from thoughtfully chosen vendors reflect intent and effort, while removing the guesswork from your side of the equation.
Yoga retreats are viable options, even when shopping for someone who can’t carve out two weeks to travel abroad and sit at the base of a mountain. Plenty of state and regional institutions offer day-long retreats — keep your eyes peeled as studios like Shakti, Muddy Feet Yoga, Toula Yoga, the group Central Iowa Yoga Retreat and others set their 2019 schedules. Feel free to all around for help creating a more tailored experience for your loved one.
Read ‘Em Like a Book
If setting up a getaway isn’t a practical option, let your yogi dream up their own. Books, from classic yoga texts to trending guides, open up new avenues for integrating yoga into readers’ lives. Fellow yogis have seized on the interest of the last decade and put out a slew of candid, compelling memoirs that can enrich your loved one’s practice. Maybe your loved one has been going through the motions, but still wants a way to apply the lessons of yoga to their own needs. Perhaps they just need reassurance that they’re not the only one stumbling and farting their way through classes, or struggling to hike their left foot up to their interior right thigh to pull off a graceful tree. Let these frank, funny voices help your yogi shed their self-consciousness about their journey, including Stretch: The Unlikely Making Of a Yoga Dude by Neal Pollack, Poser: My Life In Twenty-Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer and Even The Stiffest People Can Do The Splits by Eiko. (For more title ideas, browse YogaIowa‘s recommendations.)
By broadening your parameters and considering how your loved one practices, you can pull together a whole host of thoughtful options that aren’t likely to disappoint.