Recently, a thoughtful reader inquired about what an appropriate gift might be for a student to give a yoga teacher for the holidays, so I promised to weigh in.
Receiving gifts from students around the holidays is always a pleasant surprise. More than anything, your sentiment in the form of a card or a personal Thank You is the greatest gift. However, if you'd like to brighten your favorite teacher's holiday with a present, consider three easy criterion first.
1.) How much would you like to spend?
2). What is the extent of your relationship with this teacher? (For example, if you take private lessons and spend large quantities of times with this person, a more substantial gift makes sense).
3). What kind of clues can you pick up from the teacher's style in class to inspire a creative gift-giving idea? Is your teacher always drinking tea before class? Does he/she play music? Does this teacher reveal clues of being a Red Sox fan or a fledgling cook?
If you're hoping to streamline your costs, take the easiest, most direct route to good cheer: A $10 ($15, $20) gift card toward yogi-approved goods and services, such as Whole Foods, Starbucks, iTunes, or a bookstore (particularly if your teacher shares favorite passages and readings during class).
If you have a little more cash to spend, giving your yogi an experience during which he/she gets to receive the care and attention of someone else for change is always a welcome treat. Bodywork, for example, is a generous way to pamper hardworking instructors whose bodies often take a toll from the endless activity, hours on their feet, extensive practice, and, often, heated rooms that can deplete energy.
It's also nice when the gift reflects something about you. One of my most dedicated private clients was a big foodie, so he saw to it that I was able to take a pal for a swanky dinner on him when the occasion warranted it by generously giving a gift certificate to a posh, local restaurant. This is a huge treat for yogis. However, you'll want to be mindful of your instructor's eating habits if possible. To be safe, choose a restaurant that will have vegetarian options. Steer clear of steakhouses, just as a precaution. Another time, a female student of mine revamped my whole toiletry selection in one fell swoop- she worked for Lancome, so I was, literally, showered with soaps, lotions, lip glosses, eye creams, and the like. Another student was a tea enthusiast who stocked my cupboard with some rare and fancy brews to savor.
Finally, if you know your yogi shops at Lululemon (and you'd be hard-pressed to find one of us who doesn't), swing through a local store; take the guesswork out of the sizing and stick to accessories or certificates. Or, maybe you've heard your yoga teacher chit chat about being a movie buff, aspiring cook, or having a green thumb? Movie passes, a hefty, healthy cookbook, or a blooming houseplant will make the teacher's off-duty hours more fun.
The key is for your choices to reflect the level of familiarly that you have with this person. In general, keep gifts somewhat yoga or wellness-related, and do maintain sensible boundaries (think: aromatherapy candle, not sexy-smelling perfume). Most yogis are easy to please, and remember, your presence in class is "presents" enough.