Shay enjoys exercise that involves reclining and occasional naps, and therefore has been an advocate for pilates and yoga for over a decade.
Yoga and Pilates Gift Ideas from my Brain to Yours
This guide includes 10 hand-picked gifts that I chose based on my experiences with pilates and yoga as well as a homemade/DIY yoga gift that's simple, cheap, and easy to make. Each item you'll find here is either something I own or something I'd like to own. It's kind of a wishlist.
I took my first yoga class ever during my sophomore year of college and I've been taking it on and off over the last decade. As a hater of running and crazy cardio workouts, yoga was something I've always felt drawn to. About five years ago, I hurt my shoulder at work and my doctor recommended I take pilates to build up the muscles in my back and core to ease some of the strain. I ended up learning that I love pilates even more than I love yoga and I've been taking classes ever since.
Yoga Mats and Pilates Mats
You can't do yoga or pilates without a mat. Okay, technically you can, but I don't recommend it. Just about any studio or gym will provide mats for their classes, but there's a good chance those mats aren't cleaned very often, plus they may not be the right kind of mat to suit individual needs. By having your own mat, you're not only giving yourself a better experience in class, you can also practice yoga and pilates from the privacy of your own home.
Suggested Brands: Hugger Mugger, Manduka, Gaiam, Aurorae
I have a Hugger Mugger Tapas Mat that I bought over 10 years ago. It takes a little bit of use to get that "sticky" feel, but once it's worn in, it's fantastic. It also really easy to clean with vinegar and water (see my yoga mat spray "recipe" at the end of this article). This is the same style and thickness (1/8 inch) as the Hugger Mugger mat that I have, except this one just looks cooler, right? I think it will be my next yoga mat purchase once my current one dies. It would make a super unique yoga gift, for sure.
I used this style of mat at a retreat I went on, and it was the sturdiest, highest quality mat I've ever encountered. It is made from rubber, so while it's a bit heavier than other mats, it's also better at absorbing perspiration. At 1/4 inch, it is twice as thick as most mats—it's something even a yoga pro would appreciate.
Yoga Towels for The Sweaty Among Us
More cardio heavy yoga practices, such as Bikram, "hot" yoga, or fast paced Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, can result in perspiration and, consequently, a slippery mat. No one wants to face plant during downward dog or fall on their butt while doing a standing pose. Thanks for my naturally sweaty palms, slick mat is a problem for me regardless of the type of yoga I'm doing.
While a plain-ole towel can be handy in this situation, towels can bunch up and be very inconvenient mid pose. It's nice to have products that are made specifically to address the slick mat issue. It's also a luxury that a lot of yoga lovers don't think to invest in.
This towel is fantastic. I've seen it recommended in several yoga circles. It's the same size as a mat, so all you have to do is lay it out, then roll it back up with the mat when you're done. It has little silicone nubs all over it, making it nice and grippy, plus its got a quick-drying material insuring it will do its job during an entire yoga session. It's entirely washable, thus reducing the need for regular mat cleanings, and it comes in over 30 colors and patterns.
Yoga and Pilates Accessories
While buying a bigger ticket item like a yoga mat is a fantastic idea, it's not always the most practical choice. Often times, it is smarter to go for a smaller gift. Below you'll find two super basic yoga accessories that are handy for both class yoga and in-home practice.
PS: I also recommend yoga blocks; I've never taken a yoga class where a block wasn't available. Yoga blocks allows you to get in the correct position for certain poses, even if your body isn't quite "there yet" in terms of strength or flexibility. While blocks are commonly available, it is a definite luxury to have one of your own to use in class or at home. "Hugger Mugger" makes a nice solid cork one.
Similar to the yoga block, the yoga strap is used to align the body and go deeper into stretches and poses. I've used a strap in just about every class I've taken, but I only recently invested in my own recently. Why? It's more sanitary! I was getting kind of grossed out by the yoga straps in my class as I highly doubt they are ever cleaned. I chose a Hugger Mugger 6 foot strap (with metal D-Ring).
Hair can be an issue for ladies (and men!) in yoga in pilates. You spend much of your time on your back or stomach for both practices, and having a ponytail at the back of your head can be uncomfortable.
The UV Headband by Buff is an elegant solution. It keeps your hair out of your face and wicks moisture, but it doesn't slide off the head like a lot of "yoga headbands" do.
Buff makes a few other sized products. The Half Buff is shown here (it comes in a bunch of funky colors and patterns), but it's also available in a longer size (called the "Original Buff") which can be worn in dozens of configurations.
Contemporary Music for Yoga Lovers
Just about every yoga or pilates class I've taken has a similar style new age music playing in the background. When you practice in your home, you can listen to whatever you want. Here, you will find two of my choices for music to listen to while doing yoga or pilates, or while relaxing and unwinding.
While this is about as "new age-y" as I get, I will freely admit that I love Enya. Her music is ethereal and heavenly. It makes me feel like I'm floating on a cloud. It's so perfect for yoga, it's not even funny.
OK Computer is Radiohead's quintessential album, noted for its drama, emotion, and layered melodies, which means it works for yoga quite well. It's also one of the few (non greatest hits) albums I own that I can listen from start to finish - it's one of my all time favorites.
Yoga and Pilates Videos and Books
A book or DVD is an easy choice yoga lovers and pilates lovers because it gives us a chance to practice at home -- or wherever we may find ourselves. I have two suggestions below, but there are a TON of other options available online.
Also, a clarification: A lot of people lump pilates and yoga together. While there are a lot of surface-level similarities, they really are completely different practices. They both focus on breath control, flexibility, and mat-based work, but I believe pilates feels more like a straight-up work-out than yoga does.*
In its purest form, pilates focuses on core strength (that's your abs, back, hips, and butt), but some classes add in arm and shoulder training and barre work (which targets the calves and thighs). Perhaps I'm impatient, but I find pilates to be a much more fulfilling practice because I saw results much faster.
*Note: I have not tried Bikram, so perhaps I'd eat my words if I did. My hatred of sweating could be a problem though.
"The Yoga Bible" is a pint sized book (it's about the size of a novel) that fits well in small bags and purses. It would be an awesome gift for yoga lovers who are often on the go. It has over 150 poses, including modifications for beginners, and more challenging poses for advanced yogis. It also includes a breakdown of all the types of yoga to help newcomers find their match.
Mari Winsor, pilates instructor to the stars, created two fun and invigorating 20 minute ab workouts for this DVD based on the requests she's received from her famous clients (which include Melanie Griffith, Miley Cyrus, Drew Barrymore, Daisy Fuentes, Emma Stone, Jewel, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Minnie Driver, and Marisa Tomei). Seasoned pilates lovers say that the workouts remain interesting and challenging, even after many sessions.
The DVD is a great companion to Mari Winsor's "Lower Body Pilates" which includes three 20 minute exercises that target hips, thighs and glutes.
DIY Yoga Mat Spray: A Homemade Gift Idea for Yoga and Pilates Lovers
Yoga and pilates mats need to be cleaned, but you need to be careful that whatever you're using won't degrade the material or make the mat slick. A little while ago, I was looking up different yoga mat cleaners online, but I was discouraged by how expensive they were. Luckily, yoga mat cleaner can be made at home from as little as 3 ingredients. Slap a cute little label on it and it would make a lovely inexpensive gift.
- 1 part water
- 1 part distilled white vinegar - Don't be afraid of the vinegar. It dries clean, meaning it does not have a scent once dried. It's also a natural deodorizer and disinfectant. These are good things!
- 1 drop of essential oil per ounce of the bottle (so if the bottle is 2 oz, use 2 drops; if it is 8 oz, use 8 drops) - You can eyeball this and add more if you'd like a stronger scent, but be careful because essential oils are quite concentrated, plus you don't want to create an oil slick!
Pour all these together into a spray bottle and shake it up before each use. To clean the yoga mat, simply spray it on, then wipe it off with a damp towel and let dry. Dirtier mats can sit with the spray on it for a few minutes before wiping it down.
As for essential oils, you can mix and match to create your own scent. Be sure you choose an essential oil that is antibacterial/antimicrobial such as: lavender, tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, lemongrass, orange, sandalwood, pachouli, etc. You can also substitute witch hazel for the vinegar.
Lavender oil is what I use in my yoga mat spray. Even though vinegar does dry "clean" (ie it doesn't smell like anything once it dries), it's nice to have that smell covered up while you're cleaning your mat. Plus lavender is a fantastic natural calming scent as well as a natural antibacterial agent making it ideal for a yoga mat spray.
If you're feeling more adventurous, consider purchasing an essential oil set and mixing your own custom scents for yoga mat spray. The set shown here comes with 6 favorite natural antibacterial essential oils: lavender, eucalyptus, lemongrass, orange, peppermint, and tea tree.
© 2013 Shay Marie
TerriCarr on March 31, 2014:
I have the Yoga Shakti DVD you included in your Amazon module. It is one of my favorites. Review coming up :-)
SmartYoga on November 09, 2013:
Great gift ideas! Good quality stuff! Thanks!