When asked what gift he wanted for the holidays, the yogi replied "I wish no gifts, only presence."
I love this joke--and not just because it's funny. It's also a great reminder for me during the holiday season. I'm far from enlightened or evolved past the point of enjoying material things. But because I practice yoga, I know that I have everything I need to be happy within, and it's nice to be reminded of that during a season of rampant spending. I might enjoy a new electronic gadget or designer shoes, but I know that these things won't really help me on my journey.
This time of year, my friends and family often ask me what I want for Christmas, and I never have a great answer. (More hours in the day so I can squeeze in more meditation and asana practice time just doesn't seem like a reasonable request--nor is an all-expense paid trip to a fancy yoga retreat center.) But there are things that my friends and family can do to support me in my yoga practice.
Here are five gifts any yoga student would appreciate!
1. Yoga classes. There are many ways to give yoga. A gift certificate to a local studio is the most obvious. If the yogi in your life has a favorite teacher, maybe she'd appreciate a private session to work on her Handstand.
2. Yoga subscriptions. There are also more creative ways to give yoga--subscriptions to streaming yoga classes online (check out YogaVibes and YogaGlo), a magazine subscription, or a DVD can all be great ways to give yoga.
3. Help that makes it easier for a yogi to practice. Does someone you know have small children or house chores that keep him from getting to the studio? You could offer to babysit so she can go get her Om on.
4. Knowledge. What do the yoga-obsessed like to do when they're not practicing yoga? Read about yoga. You can't go wrong with yoga classics like B.K.S Iyengar's Light on Yoga, The Yoga Sutra, or the Bhagavad Gita. Or, if you know the person on your gift list would already have those books--consider something from this list.
5. Inspiration. What inspires you? Some of my most cherished gifts from friends are notes, pictures, plants, and other things they've shared with me that are sources of inspiration for them. I love having these tokens at my desk for inspiration and to remind me of my connection to others.
Of course, if all else fails yoga students love yoga clothes (try a gift certificate to a favorite store), yoga props, and other yoga products. And, yes, even though we might know that the gadgets and shiny things that are available this holiday season won't help us get any closer to enlightenment, sometimes those things are nice to have, too.