When it comes to gifts, there's nothing better than giving the unexpected to sweeten someone's life.
This list has something for every yogi or yogini, whether it's your dear wife, your type-A friend or the co-worker you're paired with for Surprise Santa.
All suggested goodies have been vetted by yours truly.
A set of yoga blocks takes yoga asana practice to a new level. They can make postures easier—or more challenging. They also enable variations of postures, diversifying practice. And if someone has physical limitations, they make postures accessible.
I have several different sets of blocks, but Gaiam's gray Flower of Life beauties are my favorite: lightweight, but not too lightweight, and forgiving when you place them under bones such as your sacrum or shoulder blades.
Their size is perfect for tiny mites and tall practitioners alike. The blocks are durable, and their embossed design keeps them looking brand new.
Perfect for: anyone who practices yoga or seated meditation.
Any loose or stretchy clothes work for yoga practice. But it sure is nice to wear something beautiful and flattering.
Vast Terrain's Excel 7/8 Legging and Aeris Technical Tank are all that—plus the Tampa-based company's clothes are made in the United States. Vast Terrain sells directly to consumers, which saves on cost. Still, the clothes don't come cheap, but the quality justifies the expense, and Vast Terrain is transparent about its pricing.
Each product has its own size chart, and sizing is spot on. The company also offers clothing for men.
Perfect for: someone you want to splurge on, those who appreciate quality, those who are socially conscious.
There are hundreds and hundreds of meditation apps, plus plenty of digital meditation albums. But when it comes to gifts, it's a lot nicer to open something gorgeous than an email link directing you to downloads.
Julie Murphy, a yoga nidra expert with a soothing South African accent, has several albums that come as compact discs.
“Calm” offers guided meditations that include intention-setting. Stunning photography of a butterfly in transformation adorns the disc's jacket, making for a very pretty present. But if you’d still rather go fully digital, Murphy's albums are available that way too.
The book The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young is a vivid journey into how meditation works. It charts Young's growth and training, offering relatable stories. The read is breezy but also informative and practical, which is to say: It can be used to further develop an established meditation practice or to simply learn about how meditation works.
Perfect for: advanced meditation practitioners, those who enjoy exploring meditation’s underpinnings.
Self-care matters a lot whether someone practices yoga or not, it's just that yoga makes a point of it. Humble tea can help.
Holding a warm drink warms us to others and ourselves, as studies show. Plus, the ritual of preparing tea tells us something soothing is on the way. And given tea can take 10 minutes to steep, it helps us practice patience, a big tenet of yoga.
Doesn't matter what kind of tea you choose, so pick an assortment. Herbal is best if you’re going the calm-things-down route. A few favorites: chai rooibos (robust), peppermint (belly soothing and refreshing) and Throat Coat (complex and rich).
Perfect for: those who constantly care for others, those who like to take things slowly or would be better off if they did.
Mitra Malek is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal and has taught yoga regularly since 2006.