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That time of the year is upon us again and it's time to start talking about the holidays! I have two confessions to make: I love to move and am also addicted to learning new things. So I thought it would be helpful to put together this holiday gift guide for those of you looking to make movement and learning a part of your gift-giving this year (or if you’re just looking for something to enhance your own health in the new year)! And just a note, I would never recommend something I haven't used and loved myself. All of these items are found in both my home and movement studio.
Erwan Le Corre The Practice of Natural Movement: Reclaim Power, Health, and Freedom
The creator of MovNat, Erwan Le Corre, published a beautiful book on natural movement this year. There’s plenty of reasons this book is at the top of my gift-giving list this year. It's packed not just with a wealth of natural movement knowledge, but also includes beautiful photography. It lays down the philosophy of natural movement, discusses the impact of movement on health, and includes progressions of natural movement. It’s a thick book the reader can work through at their own pace and can continue to learn from for years on end. This is the perfect gift for anyone looking for simple health solutions and wants to get away from overly complex exercise routines.
Gretchen Rubin’s work on habits has been so impactful on my movement practice and how I guide my clients that I continue to revisit it several times per year. Her book on the four tendencies has been integral in how I set my own goals and how I interact with everyone in my life. The reality is it’s much easier to set yourself up for success in meeting health goals if you take the time to understand your habit tendency. Which makes this book a perfect gift for anyone looking to get healthy in the new year, or really anyone who works with people. For a preview of what you’ll find in this book, I highly recommend checking out the four tendencies quiz on Gretchen’s website (fun fact: I’m an upholder-obliger while my husband is a clear questioner).
In keeping with the theme of forming solid health habits, I can’t recommend The Big Leap enough. This is another book I find myself picking up several times per year and taking away something new every time. This book explores self-limiting beliefs that we hold on to that express themselves in our behaviors. It covers where these self-limiting beliefs originate in the first place and how to progress through them to spend more of your life within your zone of genius. The first time I read this it was honestly painful and I found myself cringing through it because I knew it was true even if it wasn't pleasant to hear. In order to establish healthy habits, you need to learn where in your life you’re holding yourself back. The reality will likely surprise you.
I would highly recommend any of the books from Katy Bowman, but I can't go without highlighting Dynamic Aging. Not only does this book provide simple exercises to help with everything from balance to driving to foot health, but she and her co-authors do an excellent job of dispelling many common myths that come along with aging. It challenges you to explore your health in terms of how many years you have been under-moved rather than how many birthdays you've celebrated. This is a book I find myself reading over and over again, always taking away something new to bring to my clients.
As I said above, I would recommend any of Katy's books but if you are looking for something that is less focused on the "how-to" of movement and more on the WHY, this is the book for you. In a collection of essays, she explores how humans have shaped our modern environment and how that environment, in turn, is now shaping us. Be ready for your mind to be blown, this is a whole new way of looking at the world and how we move through it. I will be revisiting this book for years to come.
A diffuser with some basic essential oils was one of the best investments I made in my home and office this year. It's elevated my movement practice and daily routines to a whole new level. And these make a really fun and beautiful gift. Here are my recommendations based on what I use and love.
This is a great versatile set for someone just being introduced to essential oils. It comes with lavender, lemon, and peppermint essential oils that fit any occasion. I love diffusing lavender for a soothing movement practice and bedtime wind-down routine. Research has shown that lavender essential oil helps promote higher quality sleep and reduced anxiety. Lemon and peppermint are both uplifting and can be used in combination or solo. These refreshing scents have helped my productivity and focus at work and are great for a more upbeat movement practice. These make a great gift or even stocking stuffer.
If you're looking for an upgrade from the trio above, this kit comes with a diffuser and a set of 10 oils. This is the set I keep and use in my home and office daily. It's tons of fun to test different combos of oils to diffuse depending on the mood you're looking for. This makes a beautiful gift that will last a while!
The combo of Deep Blue oil and rub make a great gift for an avid mover in your life or someone who deals with aches and pains on a regular basis. The Deep Blue oil is my favorite to diffuse during a movement practice. It's soothing and uplifting at the same time. The Deep Blue Rub is a favorite among my clients for sore spots before or after practice. It's a great alternative to over-the-counter topical pain-relieving creams with skin-friendly ingredients. These also make great stocking stuffers!
My mind was blown the first time I was introduced to the concept of a round yoga mat. I never thought about how the traditional linear shape of a mat can visually limit movement. MovNat solved this problem with its round mat, encouraging movement in all planes. This would be such a fun and creative gift for any yogis or regular movement practitioners in your life.
Half foam rolls are at the top of every movement-lovers list. This is a versatile tool used from calf stretching to upper back mobilizing. There are so many uses and half foam rolls are very portable. I keep several in my home and office and never travel without one. There are plenty of options out there, but I found this particular brand doesn't seem to slide around on the floor so much when I'm using it.
These are another must-have on any movement-lovers list. These come in several different densities and sizes, helping you progress your movement practice. They are fantastic for rolling out everything from head to toe. I roll my feet with these daily. A set of these along with Jill Miller's book The Roll Model: A Step-By-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body makes a great gift combination.
Toe spreaders are an unconventional item that everyone who wants healthy feet should own. These passively spread your toes, helping undo years of damage from tight footwear. Toe spreaders come in many varieties, but I like that these can fit right into a good pair of minimal shoes. You can be reversing damage from the wrong shoes while wearing these. The difference is noticeable even after just a little bit of use. These are extra important for anyone in your life dealing with bunions, foot pain, poor circulation, or neuropathy.
Last but not least, I think it's important to share classes and courses to help lay the foundation for a movement practice as well as learn and grow. Here are my recommendations.
Having trained and certified with Nutritious Movement, I'm partial to their courses. Anything Katy Bowman (books recommended above) creates provides a phenomenal learning experience. She has plenty of courses to choose from, but for the most comprehensive program, I recommend the Whole Body Mechanics Courses. They give an overview of biomechanics, corrective exercise, and alignment for every area of the body that the user can continue to revisit and learn from for years. This would benefit everyone in your life, from avid exercisers to someone new to a movement practice.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the program I've put so much work into this year- the Mindful Movement Collective. I created it earlier this year to help people learn while moving more from home. A new video is released weekly, covering a wide range of topics from foot mobility to pelvic health to chronic pain. For someone who loves to learn about their body and health, this is a great gift option!
And I think that about covers it. I wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season this year. I hope you had as much fun reading through this list and exploring as I had creating it! Do you have a favorite health-related gift you like to give?