Happy Hannukah. It’s almost Christmas. And Kwanzaa! If you consider yourself a humanist, ’tis the season to spread a little joy – am I right?

Do you have a special yogi in your life that you’d like surprise this holiday season? Are you stuck on what to get them? In the mood to treat yourself? (“TREAT YOSELF 2011!”)

To thaw your gift-giving brain freeze, or inspire your own wishlist, my top 5 yoga-themed gifts after the jump!

1. Yoga Mat.

There are two kinds of mats – mats for the general yogi or newbie (I’ll call them level 1-2) and then there are the mats for those whose commitment to yoga has reached a daily devotion (level 2.5-3).

For the novice: I have a Gaiam Tree of Life mat that I love as much for the symbolism as I do the color and price, and I double it up with a yogitoes towel so I don’t slip off. It’s a perfectly fine mat and it’s served me well for the past two years. ($)

For the hard-core: True story – I had forgotten a towel and was slipping off my mat during a particularly fast vinyasa practice (Note: this was not a Yoga District class). When I asked the instructor if I could do anything to prevent doing a face-plant into the floor she said, rather bluntly, “Buy a better mat – yours is crappy.” Some of my more advanced yoga friends swear by Manduka mats. The instructor above recommended Jade mats. ($$$)

For a plethora of mat options, check out matsmatsmats.com. Mats are also available from most online retailers and in many yoga studios.

2. Yoga Toys.

Eye pillows. Bolsters. Straps. Blocks. Meditation bench. Really, who doesn’t love a new toy? I like to bring my own eye pillow to class for savasana, and I also use it when I can’t fall asleep. I tried out a bolster recently – had no idea relaxation poses could get anymore comfortable – and highly recommend them. ($$)


3. Yoga Gear.

The best part about yoga is that you can come as you are – no matter what shape, size, fitness level, or attire. Seriously, no fancy or expensive gear is required. Still, there’s nothing like a fresh set of workout clothes to inspire you to hit the gym or the mat. Below are a range of options at different price points.

4. Yoga Massage. (Also known as Thai massage.)

I’ve never done this before, but I do love a good massage. Thai massage incorporates deep tissue massage with the stretching postures on yoga.  One of the branches of traditional Thai medicine, the technique supposedly pulls from Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian healing traditions. A few spas and centers that offer the massage in and around the DC area include:

Note: I have not vetted any of the above – I’d inquire before you purchase.

5. The gift of yoga.

Saved the best for last, folks. One of the best gifts I’ve given and received is the gift of yoga. It can come in many forms: a gift certificate to a favorite studio, picking up the cost of a master class or workshop, a subscription to Yoga Journal or another community magazine, a donation in a loved one’s name to organizations like Yoga Activist or Omega Institute. If you’re feeling really generous, you can sponsor a trip to one of the many yoga conferences that happen around the country or a weekend retreat like Yogaville. There’s nothing more beautiful than putting love into action. ($-$$$)

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If you’ve got more tips – please leave them in the comments section below!

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