Let’s say you have a friend that’s into yoga and you have no idea what to buy them. Or perhaps they’ve got all the right yoga clothes and gear, so you need to think outside the box. After practicing yoga for 26 years and training hundreds of teachers around the world, these are my top 10 yoga gift ideas, for bringing more depth to anyone’s yoga and meditation practice.
HelloSun Yoga mats – I’ve tried A LOT of yoga mats over the years and this is by far my favourite, especially because it’s natural and eco friendly. I have a lovely woven mat that I bought in India 20 years ago (because they didn’t use or sell rubber sticky mats there) but it doesn’t have the grip and absorption I often need. HelloSun mats are biodegradable, free of plastics, PVC, phthalates, heavy metals, chemical agents, contaminates and allergens! It’s not the lightest mat but it’s lasted me years and each side is a different colour to add some variety to your practice.
Nag Champa incense sticks – I use the blue Agarbatti and the yellow Goloka variety, because they remind me of ashrams and temples in India. I get transported back there every time I light one, and it tells my body and mind that it’s time for yoga or meditation. I buy them in bulk from India but they’re widely available in the West now too.
Insight Timer app – I reckon I’ve downloaded every meditation app available, and over the last few years this is the only one still on my phone. Whether a beginner or seasoned meditator, Insight Timer has SO many options for meditation including courses, talks, music, guided meditations, sleep meditations, yoga, and recently they’ve added a section for children. I suggest buying yourself, or gifting someone, the yearly subscription, but even the free version is better than most other apps.
Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran – considered one of the most important yoga texts ever written, the Gita is read by most school children in India like a ‘bible’ on yoga history and philosophy. I’ve had fascinating discussions about the Gita with the Indian Ambassador, as well as waiters and taxi drivers in India. Written over 2000 years ago, it’s teachings are more relevant today than they were then, and still a hot topic of discussion. Having read several translations, Eknath Easwaran’s book is by far the most well written and relatable.
Lavender eye pillows – No Savasana is complete without a comforting eye pillow. Not only does it block out light and feel cosy, but it helps condition the mind and body for relaxation time, as you make a habit of using it. Any flaxseed and lavender filled one will do for a comforting weight and floral smell. Just make sure the cover is removable and washable after those sweaty yoga sessions!
Shakti Mat – I’m new to these and I have to say I’m loving it. Some people lie on them during Savasana, but to be honest I sit on mine when working long hours at my desk, to provide my sleepy numb butt and thighs with some stimulation. It’s wonderful for increasing blood circulation, and engaging your acupressure points to release tension. You may want to use a towel on top of it first, before you get used to being able to lie on it bare skinned!
Apple AirPods Pro – Personally I’ve found that the Apple Air Pods are the best light weight ear buds that block out external sound. But any other good noise cancellation headphones are a must if you’re listening to a guided meditation, teaching a yoga class via Zoom, listening to music while you do yoga, or just want to reduce the ambient sound around you. These are great because they’re wireless, convenient, and stay in my ears even during a vigorous flow, although they are more expensive than other options on the market.
Square meditation cushions – Feeling comfortable during meditation is paramount, because if you’re body isn’t relaxed, then your mind won’t be either. Personally I find the typical zafu meditation cushions too high. They make sitting for long periods of time more uncomfortable on the lower back, and do not provide any padding for my lower legs on the floor. Perfect for the discomfort and pressure felt in the feet and ankles during meditation, my square cushion is the most important meditation accessory I own. I can’t remember where I got this, but any good yoga accessories website will sell them.
Meditation shawl – In India we typically use a shawl for early morning meditation to keep us warm and safe from bug bites. What’s important is that the shawl is only used for meditation and not as a fashion item at other times during the day. Whatever time of day you meditate, or the material or type of shawl you buy, doesn’t matter. Having a special meditation shawl will help to condition your body and mind to meditation time, and will add to the daily ritual of this sacred time. This one was a gift but you can find something similar very easily.
Living Yoga 108 cards – Every morning I pick one of the 108 cards with quotes from either the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Sutras and more, with an interpretation or meditation on the other side. I use them as words to contemplate on during meditation and also with my students, either at the beginning of a yoga class as an intention, or during Savasana as a contemplation. They are a wonderful way of deepening your knowledge of the philosophy of yoga, and learning the essence of these sacred texts, boiled down to their most essential quotes. Of course I’m biased because I created them after 3 years of studying various translations of these texts. My objective being to bring more integrity and depth to the West’s understanding of yoga, and help give practitioners and teachers more knowledge, and something relevant to contemplate during meditation.
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Charlie began practicing yoga over 25 years ago and has been teaching for more than 12 years to people of all ages and abilities. She is the lead trainer in the Indiv Yoga 200 hrs & the RCYT Kids Yoga Alliance Teacher Training Courses, and has certified over 350 students worldwide.
Originally from London and having worked in New York and Lisbon after her Psychology degree, she has since settled in Switzerland with her husband, and dedicated her life to expanding her knowledge of the science of yoga, mindful meditation and better physical and mental health.
Over the years Charlie has worked with some of the most renowned yoga teachers around the world (David Swenson, Shiva Rea, Anne-Marie Newland, Leslie Kaminoff, Sadie Nardini, Sonia Sumar etc) certifying in Hatha, Sivanada, Ashtanga, Childrens and Family Yoga, Yoga for the Special Child, & Inner Engineering with Sadhguru. She has become highly respected for her successful work in yoga therapy, especially for Autism, ADHD and other behavioural and developmental syndromes. She has also talked at some of the biggest corporations in Switzerland and the annual SGIS (Swiss Group of International Schools) Conference on implementing Mindfulness in the work place and the education system.
Charlie holds the highest yoga qualifications as an ERYT500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher), RCYT (Registered Children´s Yoga Teacher), RPYT (Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher) and YCEP (Yoga Continued Education Provider) with the Yoga Alliance, and has developed Indiv Yoga™ to bring a more physiological, therapeutic and individual approach to yoga. Indiv Yoga™ Switzerland is a RYS (registered yoga school) and RCYS (registered children’s yoga school) providing Yoga Alliance teacher training certifications of the highest professional standards.
The focus of Indiv Yoga™ is to provide the benefits of yoga to every type of individual, using its teachings to achieve physical and mental balance, and diminish the anxieties of modern life for adults and children.
Read her onlineand for a feel of her knowledgeable and friendly professionalism.