Monthly Archives: December 2014

Gift ideas for the yogi in your life

Whether your loved one lives on the mat or is just starting a practice, these gift ideas will delight and inspire her (or him).


Have a friend who is a new mom or travels for work or lives on a deserted island that has wifi?  Give the gift of online yoga classes for those who can’t get to the studio or are looking for a more affordable way to practice. Yogaglo offers hundreds of classes – just choose the level, style, and duration.


Jade makes my favorite yoga mats.  They’re eco-friendly, made of recycled rubber, and contain no PVC so no stinky off-gassing.  As an extra bonus, buy it in teal and Jade will donate $5 to ovarian cancer research.

Every yogi needs a nook for her home studio.  Help her decorate the space with some yoga art from Etsy.


Free people has a new line of movement attire.  I’m liking this Jules cami.  Some of the pieces seem a bit sexy for the yoga studio, but perfect for the super zen home studio with the cool art featured above.


Prana’s yoga clothes are simple and understated and the company stays true to its yogic virtues.  Prana has been a leader in the fair trade movement supporting human rights through proper wages and worker safety.


For the very lucky gift recipient in your life, a yoga retreat in Mexico with YogaWorks may be the ideal gift.  hint, hint… And for more retreat ideas, check out Conde Nast’s list of the top yoga destinations.

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I may buy this one for myself.  This beautiful bracelet is inscribed with the mantra, “Om mani padme hum.” It’s handmade by a Nepali artisan and sold through Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer.


If your yogi is tired of the Mexican blankets and wants a more minimalist look, gift him Manduka’s recycled wool blanket.


For your preppy girlfriend on the go, the Evolution Bag by Outerpeace will store her yoga gear and whatever else she needs to get on with her day.

So if anyone out there in the ether is listening…I just made my Christmas list.

Gifts that Give Back

There are so many retailers offering opportunities to give back that it seems like a no-brainer to do all or at least most of our holiday shopping with those businesses making an effort to contribute.  Let’s put some purpose to our purchases.

I love this basket from Indego Africa.  It would actually look perfect in my family room (my hints aren’t subtle).  Indego is a nonprofit based in NYC that supports women entrepreneurs in Rwanda.  100% of the profits from this $60 basket (and all other products) go towards education and job skills training for the artisans.


For the kiddos, tegu magnetic blocks get two enthusiastic thumbs up from me.  These are fantastic for a number of reasons.  First, kids (and grown-ups) can get very creative with designs (check out some pics below) and thus it seems to provide endless entertainment.  Secondly, because of the magnets, they store neatly, which I love. Thirdly, they are well-crafted and harvested from a sustainable wood.  Lastly, the factory is based in Honduras and offers living wages and career development to their employees and has also partnered with a local school.


If your kids are older, PB Teen is donating $10 from each purchase of their faux fur hats to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


United by Blue sells a well-curated collection of clothes and accessories…Rugged watches, canvas bags, and even canoe paddles.  This is where to shop for your thick-rimmed-glasses-wearing, stubble-faced, techy husband.  For each item United by Blue sells, it will remove a pound of trash from oceans and waterways.  To date, the company has extracted over 200,000 pounds of trash.


If you are looking for something to give your mom, mother-in-law, sister…look no further.  15% of the proceeds from this beautiful bracelet go towards funding microloans given to widowed entrepreneurs in Kenya.  Visit Bird and Stone for many more options.


Another option for the ladies in your life – pink slippers from Avon.  Unfortunately, most of us have a loved one who had breast cancer so let’s continue to fund research with pink purchases!


Everyone needs a water bottle so why not gift one that donates $10 from each sale to Matt Damon’s charity,  Before you scoff at celebrity charities, provides safe water and sanitation solutions in developing nations and receives a near-perfect rating on Charity Navigator.


Lush’s Charity Pot Lotion makes a great gift for girlfriends, kids’ teachers, or anyone you know with dry hands.  100% of the purchase price goes towards a variety of different charities.  Thus far, Lush has donated $5 million to more than 400 grassroots organizations supporting humanitarian, environmental, and animal rights causes.


Subscription gift boxes seem to be all the rage right now and Sevenly offers a perfect option for gifts that give back when you don’t know what to give.  Each month, the recipient of the CauseBox receives a collection of items from companies doing-good.  In addition to that, with each box sold Sevenly donates $7 to one of the charities listed on its site.  A two-tiered giving gift!


During the giving season, don’t forget to check Charity Navigator to see if your designated charity is on the up and up.

Embrace the madness

I adore the holiday season, every aspect of it…well, except the total chaos that seems to unfurl between Thanksgiving and Christmas. toss in my husband’s Jewishness and my son’s birthday and it’s a pretty wild ride for 4 weeks.  At times, regardless of how organized I am, it feels messy; last minute presents I have forgotten to buy, babysitter cancellations at the 11th hour, and cramming in as much holiday magic as possible.  There are countless articles and blog posts telling us to slow down this time of year. We shouldn’t buy so much, eat too much or imbibe too often.  Year after year the same mantra of “slow down, do less” is repeated everywhere.  This is a great mantra.  I would love to repeat and follow, but somehow it never seems happen.  There’s that catch-22 – we all want the season to move at a slower pace, but we also want to squeeze in as much fun, amid the obligations, as possible. How do we find the balance…?

Well, since we can’t move Christmas to January which I’ve been campaigning for awhile without success, we will just have to embrace the seasonal madness.  Trying to inflict control over chaos inevitably results in feelings of guilt, frustration, and major crankiness, thereby intensifying the existing chaos.  At the bare minimum it’s going to be a hectic time, then add on top of that the pressures of making it super joyous and trying to fit in every holiday event and party and elf hiding and then on top of that trying to make it structured and organized – c’est impossible!

Kids will get sick, babysitters will cancel, elves will forget to move, and hangovers will happen. Why fight it. When we fight it that’s when the crankiness sets in – instead let’s get messy and just let go.  This is the result –  a smiley face, carol singing,  driving safely without flipping someone off in the parking lot.  Holiday spirit emits from the face like the eternal glow of the North Star.  People will be amazed at this zen attitude and it will become contagious.

Part of the problem with the holiday season is the coinciding nagging guilt of too much. If we can eradicate the guilt and embrace the seemingly inevitable holiday rush we can alleviate a lot of the stress.  I’m not advocating for over-consumption or focusing on material goods but rather enjoying the elements of the season. When it starts to feel crazy, and we are knee deep in wrapping paper and tape, pour a festive cocktail and enjoy the moment.  Or when the kitchen is a total disaster because we decided to bake Christmas cookies just as 10 people are coming over for Hanukkah dinner just say, “forget it – my friends will have to deal with my messy kitchen and burnt cookies,” and we’ll just pour some more of that festive cocktail and not worry.  Or when we miss yoga class because we decided to enjoy too much of said festive cocktail and sleep in an extra hour embrace it because the holiday season is over way too fast to worry about missing one yoga class.  If we are late getting to the Nutcracker because we decided to stop for a gingerbread latte and drop off donations for toy for tots remind ourselves that we had 10 less minutes to keep kids contained in chairs.  As long as every one is safe all is good.

Let the chaos flow and ebb away.  By extricating ourselves from guilt and judgement and pressure we may find ourselves slowing down naturally. Embracing chaos will result in less chaos; life’s pace will ease as perspective emerges. We then emerge calm and happy amidst joyful madness.

Let us be the light this season.  Let us shine to those who need light and compassion.

Try this mantra:

Maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatah cittaprasadanam

Transalation (from Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (B.K.S. Iyengar)
Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy, and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favourably disposed, serene and benevolent.                                   

Here is another thought with which to leave you this holiday season:

“When life becomes too complicated and we feel overwhelmed, it’s often useful just to stand back and remind ourselves of our overall purpose, our overall goal. When faced with a feeling of stagnation and confusion, it may be helpful to take an hour, an afternoon, or even several days to simply reflect on what it is that will truly bring us happiness, and then reset our priorities on the basis of that. This can put our life back in proper context, allow a fresh perspective, and enable us to see which direction to take.” 
 Dalai Lama XIVThe Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living