by Shannon Sexton
If you love yoga, you’re probably eager to share the gifts of healthy living, delicious food, spiritual wisdom, and the joys of practice with your family and friends. The good news: If they already have a practice—or are curious about starting one—you can give them meaningful gifts that reflect your values while inspiring them to further explore yoga. Here are creative gift ideas for yoga newbies and seasoned practitioners alike.
For spiritual seekers:
Make a satsanga date
Often translated as “company of the wise,” satsanga refers to the act of sitting in the presence of a spiritual teacher, absorbing their energy and listening closely to their words. A true teacher helps you see beyond your everyday fears, grudges, and to-do lists, and invites you to experience a higher state of awareness, so it’s easier to rethink your priorities, contemplate the deeper meaning of life, and move forward on the spiritual path. Here are a few ways to give a satsanga-themed gift:
- Find out when a spiritual teacher like Amma, Sharon Salzberg, or Guru Singh is coming to your city or town, and write a handmade gift certificate to your loved one, promising to drive them there, listen together to the teacher’s words of wisdom, and process what you learned on your way home.
- Share a favorite spiritual book, film, or audio lecture.
- Sign your friend up for an e-course or a Skype session with a favorite teacher (yours or theirs) for a dose of Satsang 3.0.
- Send your loved one to a spiritual workshop or retreat, such as Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield’s upcoming 5-day meditation retreat at Kripalu, The Wise and Loving Heart: Meditation for Freedom and Compassion Everywhere.
For art lovers and yoga geeks:
Go to the (yoga) museum
If you live within driving distance of Washington DC, Cleveland, or San Francisco—or if you’re willing to pay for airfare—make a yoga-themed holiday card for your loved one with an IOU promising to take them to Yoga: The Art of Transformation, the world’s first (and, in a word, epic) yoga art exhibit. The dates and locations to consider include
The Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, through January 26, 2014
Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, February 21–May 25, 2014
Cleveland Art Museum, June 22–September 7, 2014
Can’t make it to a museum? The exhibit’s curator, Debra Diamond, has put together a lush, coffee table–sized catalog. Its stunning imagery, scholarly but accessible essays about yoga’s history, and descriptions of the artwork portray the depth and beauty of the yoga tradition.
Bake seasonal sweets
For the people in your life who would enjoy a healthy, home-cooked gift, bake a recipe from your favorite cookbook or from the Kripalu Kitchen, such as Cranberry Mandarin Muffins or Pumpkin-Chocolate Pie, featuring seasonal ingredients, healthy sweeteners, and vegan alternatives.
Share a special yoga book
Children (and the adults who care for them) will enjoy books like the Disneyesque Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Pixar illustrator Sanjay Patel, which explains in colorful detail how Ganesha began writing the Indian epic known as The Mahabharata. Another option is Little Gurus: a Yoga Discovery Book, by celebrated German illustrator Olaf Hajek, which features lush illustrations of yoga postures, along with the myths and art of India.
For parents and teachers:
Give a yoga manual for teaching kids
Parents, educators, and yoga teachers alike will get some great ideas from the manual Creative Yoga for Children, by Adrienne Rawlinson, a Montessori teacher who outlines a simple, classroom-themed yoga program for children between the ages of four and 12.
For health-conscious folks:
Ring in a (healthy) new year
After your loved ones enjoy the holiday festivities (and, perhaps, the gluttony!) why not support them on their quest for healthy living by signing them up for a supervised cleanse, such as an Ayurvedic panchakarma retreat or Kripalu’s upcoming Deep Clean Detox seminar? If you’re looking to shed some pounds in a healthy manner and you have a friend who’d like to do the same, consider taking them on a trip to Kripalu for an Integrative Weight Loss program, where you’ll both learn how to lose weight naturally—and sustainably.
For bhakti yogis:
Celebrate their devotion
Here are a few fun gift ideas for bhakti yogis this year.
- Kirtan lovers may enjoy Kundalini Yoga teacher Krishna Kaur’s debut kirtan album, One Creator, which sets sacred chants that she learned from her teacher, Yogi Bhajan, against a soulful backdrop of gospel, jazz and blues. Or, if you’re a musician, schedule a kirtan at your house and celebrate the holidays by chanting with your family and friends.
- Anyone who enjoys Krishna Das’s chanting and/or teachings on bhakti yoga will appreciate the 2013 documentary One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das, which chronicles the Grammy-nominated chant master’s transformation from a depressed addict to a world-renowned musician and spiritual teacher.
- Bhakti yogis who enjoy adorning their home with devotional objects might enjoy a reusable wall decal to decorate their living room, yoga room, or altar space, like this one from Etsy, or some “bhakti pop art” throw pillows featuring images of spiritual teachers such as Gandhi, Neem Karoli Baba, and Ram Dass.
For stressed-out loved ones:
Offer a free yoga class, massage, or Ayurvedic consultation
Sometimes the best gifts come for free, offered from your own two hands. If you’re a yoga teacher and you know someone who’s never taken a class but could use some loving care, give a handmade gift certificate for a free yoga class. If you practice Ayurveda, offer a free consultation. If you’re a massage therapist, give them a massage. You get the idea!