We are very soon upon the time of gift giving. This is the season that I am often asked for my incredible expertise in all things that can be purchased about The Yoga.
If you are considering buying a yoga mat, clothes, dvd, class passes or anything having to do with yoga for someone who you think should do yoga…..STOP IT. Ask them what they want & get that. A gift that you think someone needs is not always a gift. A yoga mat & dvd that gathers dust in the closet stinks of shame, frustration, and embarrassment. Don’t set someone up for that, especially someone you care about. Don’t set yourself up for that either. Starting yoga (or anything new) is intimidating and scary for all sorts of rational and intangible reasons. This is true for everyone I know when they first start yoga.
With that in mind, if you or someone you know is interested in yoga or starting yoga, read on! (If you are still set on shoulding yoga on someone, please do not use my name.) Here are some things that I recommend.
- The Mighty Yoga Mat — a yoga mat is “just” a thin piece of rubber but you really do need one. If it is thick — that’s not a yoga mat. Pilates uses more of an exercise pad – that’s not a yoga mat. Camping pads? Not a yoga mat. The life’s purpose of the yoga mat is to give your hands and feet some grip & traction when you are in poses, so that you don’t slip. A yoga mat is not for cushioning the floor, although it does provide some cushion. Using thicker pads feels like walking on a water bed. And blankets? NO. Blankets slip around and that is just dangerous. You want the yoga mat to stay in place on the floor, and your feet & hands to stay in place too. (yes, you generally do yoga in bare feet) Most new mats will be slippery. How do you get them unslippery? USE IT. You have to break it in. Getting it a little dirty can help. Let your dog or cat be on it while you USE IT. You can buy a yoga mat at Target, big grocery stores, department stores, yoga studios, or online. You can spend a little money or all the money you have in your account. Higher priced mats sometimes come in different lengths or thickness. If you worry about your knees needing extra cushion, you can use two mats, use a blanket folded under your knees, or they make little knee pads just for this reason. I use a Jade mat and I do love it. I have used this for more than 10 years of teaching yoga. I have worn two spots in the top & bottom, as you can see, but I think it’s held up great! I will say that having a mat that you really like can be kind of a game changer. So, if you are thinking of upgrading your mat – do it. I don’t think you will regret it.
- Yoga Mat Bag – you might as well throw in a yoga mat bag so that it is easier to carry around. I leave my yoga mat in the car and in a bag it wont unroll or get messed up by the cup of coffee you spill every week. If you are crafty I’m sure you can find a pattern online to make your own!
- A strap & block too, while you’re at it. I like to use a strap or at least have it handy. And I always sit on a block – not because my butt fits it – because it gets my hips higher than my knees and it makes it easier to sit up tall without straining my low back.
- Online Yoga? Doing yoga at home can be really hard. As hard as it is to do yoga at home, it can be even harder to find the right instructor, at the right time, in the right location. Seriously. In which case — doing it online is a great option. There are billions of options for this as well at many price points. I have a good friend who really likes My Yoga Works https://www.myyogaworks.com/ You can choose how long of a class you want and even what teacher. It is a phenomenal deal, If You Use It. If you or someone you know is disciplined to practice at home or if they don’t have access to a class — a few months subscription to something like this, is a great gift. You could also buy the 5 Chambanas from me! The 5 Chambanas is a 10 minute audio file that you download to your device of choice. It is only audio, but I am confident that you can follow along. It is a Chairish Yoga & meditation practice that is meant to be a daily practice – something to do with yourself on a daily basis. You can go over to the store and buy it from me!
- Clothes? You do not have to wear specially designated “yoga pants”. Most importantly, you need to feel comfortable in your own skin. And you need to be able to move easily without having to fidget and adjust every time you take a step or raise your arms. This means your clothes ought not be too tight or too loose. Nothing needs to say Namaste or ohm or anything. But, speaking of….you could buy a Daily Bread Yoga shirt from me! What luck! What fortune! Go to the store & buy a shirt from me!
- Books? sure! That’s a great idea. Here are some books I like & use in my retreats a lot.
- Waking; A Memoir of Trauma & Transcendence, Matthew Sanford
- The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D
- Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn
- The Body Keeps the Score; Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Bessel Van DerKolk
- Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, Karen Armstrong
- Tattoos on the Heart; The Power of Boundless Compassion, Gregory Boyle
- Big Magic; Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert
The business of yoga “stuff” is HUGE. You can spend as much money as you are willing to spend. It is only worth it if it gets your fanny on the mat or in the chair to show up for yoga – that is the whole goal here, folks.
And that’s all I’ve got to say. Remember – no shoulding yoga on yourself or others, please.
Peace on your head,