elephant’s Official Yoga Valentine’s Gift List. ~ Elena Brower

Via elephant journal
on Feb 4, 2011
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Elena Brower’s Love List: websites for yoga-inspired trips, jewels, daily inspiration, clothing, gifts, causes to contribute to in the name of your sweetheart, even teachers to watch.

Waylon asked me to put together my LoveList of gifts for your Yoga Valentine, so here we go. (I coulda gone on recommending stuff for days, so if I forgot anything, let me know in comments below). ~ Elena


One note on what it takes to stay in a relationship, in the very esteemed words of my man, the purveyor of light, Bentley Meeker:

To be in love and stay in love is about “being able to first identify what you’re ashamed about in yourself, every day, and then to actually confess those things so they’re out in the open. Then the shame disappears.” He adds that “forgiveness cannot be a position you stake out, it actually has to be an absence of judgment at all times.”

So your gift might just be owning up to something that makes you uncomfortable, and you might just get nothing but sweet forgiveness in return, and that might just make for the best Valentine’s day ever.

And in case you need more, I hope this list helps you find the perfect treat for your Valentine.

Practice in Your House:
Yogaglo subscription. There’s meditation, Yin, vinyasa, Anusara, and more. The studio setting is gorgeous, the founders are really excellent human beings, and I’m proud of to be part of it.

Contribute from Your Heart:
These are my favorite causes and a great way to raise awareness and bring about change.

Retreat for Your Sanity:
Wanderlust Festival. 3 options: Miami in March, Vermont in June, or Tahoe in July. I’ve done Tahoe twice and both times had huge openings in my teaching, made connections that will last my lifetime, and thoroughly soaked in the sun, the yoga and the music.
> Love MindBodyGreen, love Colleen and Rodney. Dear friends, enormous hearts and important visionaries of our time, both together and individually. Both have been big inspirations for me for years.
> One of my favorite East Coast retreats: Omega Institute. I’m honored to teach there with Kris Carr in July, and again on my own in late October.
Kripalu is my other East Coast fave. The Buddha Bar there makes me so happy that I actually eat three nourishing macro meals a day and my body sings while I’m there. Plus, I’ve been teaching there for 7+ years and every year the connection deepens, to the students and to myself, whilst I’m there. Very special spot for me. I’ll be there in March and again in August for an as-yet-to-be-announced Anusara melting pot weekend. Oh yes.
> Save your shekels for Parrot Cay retreat with me in November. It’s decadent in terms of price, and so healing that it might change your relationship to your body forever.

Sweets for Your Sweet:
> Vanessa Barg, founder of Gnosis Chocolate, is gorgeous, as is her chocolate. Her chocolate is the finest raw chocolate in the land, and she’s got special Aphrodisia chocolate for Valentine’s Day along with her brand new truffles.

Wei of Chocolate founder Lisa Reinhart infuses her chocolate with Lotus Wei Flower Essences, so this is an entirely different ballpark of healing potential in a tiny, potent little chocolate. My favorite is the Daily Love.

Treatments for Your Wellness:
There are so many great healers on both coasts; I’m picking one on each. It wasn’t easy but here you go. Whomever you treat with a session with either one will be thankful.

Products for Your Beauty:
> If you love high-vibration oils, check out Lotus Wei. I use their Infinite Love mist whenever I feel like sabotaging my body with a cigarette, and it works. There, I said it. I like to smoke. It’s disgusting and horrific and I’m mortified, and this mist is my saving grace. Now you know I’m giving you the real skinny on everything.
> I live for Pangea Organics anything. Founder Joshua Onysko came over to my house many years ago and trashed about 800 bucks worth of toxic cosmetic products, and I’m convinced he saved—or at least prolonged—my life. Major integrity and superb quality.
> Loving my daily dose of Yoga Earth. I promise you that when I miss it, my skin gets mad. Watch this company closely, they’re about to make it a Yoga Earth. No kidding.

Jewels For Your Goddess:
Mary Margrill makes pieces that inspire and invoke. My first choice is the Believe necklace…it had such an impact at such a particular time that I even wrote about it recently.
Sarah Perlis is a dear longtime friend whose pieces I literally never take off. The disk earrings and some custom pieces she’s made for me out of old pieces of my own are my favorites, but she’s known for her engagement and wedding rings too.
Recently, a stylist friend handed over a couple of rings and told me to wear them to my heart’s content. I did, and they ended up on a magazine cover within a week. Elegant, simple, raw in their own way, my Pandora rings are now stuck on me.

Books for Your Seeker:
Crazy Sexy Diet is not a diet book, it’s a wellness manual that will help you and anyone who doubts to get on the track and into your health—hilariously and with heart.
Light X Design. Evidence of what Light can be on a human level, on this earthly plane, and how delicious any space can be with the right light.
The Reality of Being is an outstanding intro into the Work of getting to know and master yourself, written by Jeanne DeSalzmann, whose writing is at once both inviting and completely daunting. This is the one book to buy if you want to work on yourself this year.
> And for the parents, Magical Parent Magical Child: The Art of Joyful Parenting is woo-woo title for a genius book. So helpful, inspiring, uplifting, and real. Backs up claims with science, and leads you to treat yourself and your child with a new level of respect and understanding.
Poised for Grace is the definitive book on Rajanaka Yoga, one of the cornerstones of my understanding of yoga.
> And The Actor is another one of the books that defined me. Hugo Cory, one of my first teachers, is still a major influence for me.

Clothes for Your Practice:
Music for Your Soul:
Garth Stevenson plays with me almost weekly in NYC, and often on the road too. Magical, epic bass, his music is haunting, spiritual, sweeping and cinematic.
David Newman, old friend, old soul, GORGEOUS cause.
Wah! Favorite is the Shavasana album. Still.
Jai Uttal. Loveland. Say no more.
> Benjy and Heather are Shantala and they’ve inspired my practice for over a decade.
Todd Boston is one of the purest hearts out there. Met him when his music was used in a video last year to promote Wanderlust, and then taught while he played, and it was perfect from moment one.
Suzanne Sterling. Voice of an angel.
Snatam Kaur Khalsa is a staple on every flight. Another angel.

Teachers for Your Life:
(First names only. Learn them if you don’t know them.)


Elena Brower is a Certified Anusara® Yoga Teacher and the founder and co-owner of Virayoga. A student of John FriendDr. Douglas Brooks and Hugo Cory, teaching 13+ years, she’s been featured in the New York Times, Yoga Journal, FitYoga, and the Element Yoga Beginner DVD series. Elena collaborates with Flavorpill to offer large-scale yoga classes worldwide, most recently at the the Museum of Modern Art and at the Great Lawn in Central Park. Elena offers online classes in HD at yogaglo.com.

Visit ArtofAttention.com for Elena’s schedule and other offerings.

See more of Elena Brower:




About elephant journal

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34 Responses to “elephant’s Official Yoga Valentine’s Gift List. ~ Elena Brower”

  1. joshua onysko says:

    you have a big squeeze coming from me by K.Budig…make sure you collect! xxoo

  2. Heather says:

    Come on Elena, stop pimping links like this. You are amazing and pure and not sure why you posted something like this. There are so many people who practice yoga who have lost their jobs and health insurance (and revolts in countries that fuel your life style). Really, is this your life?

  3. Elena Brower says:

    Heather, my main goal in linking to all of my gifted, intentional friends and their work, is to help readers access great yoga, the high caliber teachers, the causes for which we can all raise awareness, and yes, some of them are frivolous tasty treats that perhaps some folks can share and enjoy. Thankfully, this IS my life, and my plan is to promote talented friends who are serving the world in many ways. You may wish to look at what in you prompted that entire line of thinking.

  4. Elena Brower says:

    that i shall

  5. sadienardini says:


    Thank you from the bottom of my yogi heart for your inclusion in this love-filled list. I see it as such a mindful call to action (and deliciousness) for ways we can each love ourselves a little more. Thus, we can contribute more fully to meeting our worlds and the people in it with a wellspring of energy. I encourage anyone reading this to participate in the good lovin' you bring. Thank you for your massive generosity, a quality I have always known you to have.

    Big hug when I see you next. Till now, MMMmmmmmmmmmmM! There's a virtual one.


  6. Well done, Elena. Wonderful to see you here. I'm so glad Waylon asked. I hope we'll be hearing more from you on Elephant. Posting right now to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  7. elephantjournal says:

    Heather, I think you misunderstood–I asked Eleana, it's me not her, to share links (connect us) to those companies in the yoga community that she loves. What better day to share love than Valentine's?

    PS, Anonymous Heather, please read our tongue in cheek Respectful Dialogue Agree-to-Disagree Comment Policy before accusing others of having bad lives and pimping things: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/08/be-nice-or



  8. Elena Brower says:

    Bob, Sadie, Waylon, grateful. All of you three are doing nothing but helping the world get more salient information, thank you.

    I forgot some really important folks on my lists. Michael Hewett for music. Todd Norian and Ann Green (for music and yoga; Todd's BIJA album is widely available and plays in my house constantly), Sue and Naime Elkind, Desiree Rumbaugh, Marc Holzman, Anne Vandewalle, Peter Goodman, Kenny Graham, all teachers with whom to study. I wish i could've gone on…

  9. Heather,

    I can assure you that within Elena's list is the solution for the person who has lost their job, the one who has lost their health insurance or he or she that has been a party to, or victim of, a revolution. This list was put together with the best of intention and within that lies a broad enough range of things for absolutely everyone looking for help to find it. I speak as one who has sought a great deal of help over the years. (And as pimpee…)

    In the most benevolent way possible, I gently suggest that you spend a moment to take a second look. There undoubtedly will appear before you, perhaps thinly veiled, something that you've truly been looking for. It will bring you a tremendous amount of happiness.

    With love and light.


  10. So kind, thanks to Elena and Waylon for the love. We updated our website tonight, and Elena's favorite chili chocolate, Daily Love, has reincarnated as Wei Love – same great flavor and flower essences! Working out the bugs, but you can read about it here: http://www.weiofchocolate.com/Wei_Love.html (the old link to Daily Love no longer works).

  11. Lisa says:

    Raw commercialism thinly disguised as “love.”

  12. a student says:

    i think what is difficult for many of us who have been going to elena's class for years is wondering if she does not realize the power she has when she recommends *anything* – whether it is something you buy, or listen to, or read. people are seeking. they are seeking answers. it is not elena's fault that they magically think she has the answers. we know that. we just wonder if she should exercise her power with greater responsibility. knowing that magical thinking abounds, perhaps she should say instead when asked to post these lists, "there is nothing that you need, that you can buy, or hear, or read. you are complete, just as you are." i don't want to deprive her of the opportunity to have fun or promote her friends' work. it is beautiful, heart-centered work, after all. but i think what heather is trying to articulate can be said non-judgmentally: elena, you are a guru now. people bow at your feet. people are looking for love, and grace. i agree it is their own limitations, their own desire for shortcuts, that makes them think if they buy a pangea organics face mask they will somehow achieve inner calm. it is not your fault that this is out there. *but you can't pretend it's not.

  13. Ashley says:


    LOVE that you admitted to enjoying a cigarette. I'm a yoga instructor too and like you said it is mortifying, but I regretfully, enjoy a cigarette every now and then. I feel so much shame every time I go to light up it's (the energy of shame) probably doing more harm to myself than the actual cancer stick. I just thought it was SO BRAVE for someone like you admit to such a taboo behavior. That takes a lot of guts and honesty. It is just cool to know that someone as admirable as you has flaws. I liked your list too!

  14. whitney says:

    thanks for the sweet and thoughtful list elena! i love pangea- they are such a great company.

    i’ve made a new year’s resolution to not buy any clothing made overseas in sweatshops. i was just checking out some of the yoga clothing brands mentioned- some do look awesome i admit… yet i noticed that many of them neglect to mention where the clothing is made and where the materials are from. i know the el journal is all about conscientious choices, so i just wanted to put out there that hopefully that includes where and how our clothing is made. like my food choices, i’m trying to consider how the clothing got to the shop- who sewed it, who dyed it, and were they treated well and paid enough for the work?

    it’s definitely hard these days to find truly humane companies.

    elena, or anyone else, do you know of any cool yoga clothes made in the usa, perhaps with organic and sustainable materials?

  15. whitney says:

    noticed prana though is made in the usa!!! go prana!!!

  16. elephantjournal says:

    American Apparel does some. Don't know of any better though than Blue Canoe. Anyone else?

  17. elephantjournal says:

    Lisa, that's what gifts are…commercialism in the form of love. But, you can be negative about it if you like.

    I asked Elena to list those yoga community members and businesses she herself would want to support. I love the list, and I love giving something meaningful on Valentine's. Still, love your cynicism about commercialism—never hurts. ~ Waylon

    PS: Oh, and Lisa, we don't make a dime from the above. We do get .0005% of all love that is transferred between lovers, however. ~ W

  18. elephantjournal says:

    Good thoughts, but I don't think Elena is or pretends to be a guru—and I don't think there is anything holy about giving nothing physically. The physical realm is as imbued with karma and love—or lack thereof—as the emotional realm. Elena is recommending supporting those products and people who are trying to make the world a better place and have fun doing so along the way—which just so happens to be our mission.

    That said, I don't think she's saying that if you buy or support any of the above, you'll suddenly be enlightened.

    Still, your question helps us think about our consumerism mindfully—I appreciate it.


    Waylon Lewis, ed.

  19. Lisa, I think it’s up to us to create this new generation of business. When I returned from 11 years living and practicing in Asia, I agreed with you. Now, I see it as my practice to cease segregating the spiritual from the material and apply mindfulness and compassion to as many moments in my day as possible, not limited to where I am with respect to my cushion. If we don’t take charge and redefine business to come from the heart, who will?

    Perceiving things as existing only within the dualism of commercial vs. spiritual perpetuates that view; let’s ask ourselves if there may be a different path.

  20. Elena Brower says:

    Few things: I forgot some of the most amazing teachers out there. Kia Miller, Tommy Rosen, Todd Norian and Ann Greene, Desiree Rumbaugh, David Romanelli, Marc Holzman, Anne Vandewalle, there are more… wish I could list them all.

    Music: look up Dave Willocks, Michael Hewett and Todd Norian, their work all plays in my home all the time, just the most delicious mellow vibes that my 4 yr old son loves and has loved from the beginning.

    As for the remaining weirdness out there regarding commercialism… If you're feeling like you and money just don't mix and you've never really even wanted abundance, it's time to look into that. There is a reason, and it's a solid one. That perspective of scarcity lives in your family, and it's up to you to evolve that for yourself and for your family. I've had it, I've shifted it, and so can you. There were periods of time in my life when I would've looked at this list, coming from a place of total lack, and denigrated the whole thing as wasteful bullshit. Now that I'm making my dream come true [precisely written down 8 years ago, "I will do work that i love, that helps many millions of people, surrounded by gifted colleagues, in beautiful places, and making great money doing it."] I see that there are plenty of people who'd love to treat themselves to some yoga, or who'd love to give 30 bucks a month to support a woman in Nigeria who's been raped and tortured and now needs to support her family because her husband was killed in some regional skirmish.

    It's up to all of us to just live the way we wish, as an example. I choose to live as an example of prosperity. I want to free my family's lineage from feeling any lack at ALL, i want to open space for everyone to thrive and live in abundance of love, money, friends, support, music, chocolate… all of it. It wasn't always around me and I want to be an example for what it looks like now. That's my choice. And still, what you see is really what you get. If i have students out there (per one of the comments here) who are making choices based on my recommendations, it's the same thing as if I myself make a choice based on my own teacher's recommendation. The only person who has to take responsibility for my choice is – not my teacher – ME.

    And anytime you're feeling as though you stand on higher ground than someone else, with regards to anything in your life – or if you're blaming anyone for anything – you're leaking your power. That leak creates a conflict within you, it drains your strength. That conflict within you adds to the discord that resonates in war-torn regions worldwide. No joke. Quantum science has proven this time after time. We don't have to be in the same room or the same state to impact each other.

    Bottom line, and this distinction has helped me SO much: be careful not to drain your power through blame. If you don't like something you see, if it doesn't resonate with you, create something that DOES resonate. Don't just blame others. It isn't helpful- and it's most damaging to YOU. It's exactly like road rage.

    Lastly, anyone who's reacted to this piece with any level of disdain, I'm at your service. You and me are the same. I went around blaming my baby sister for 25 years for being mean and angry when it was me who was both mean AND angry. The list of whom I've blamed goes on, and to stop blaming has opened a level of love in my life I never dreamed possible. Every time I manage to heal a disagreement or wound between myself and another human being, I am better equipped to serve. So if you've read this far, you are cordially invited to a free class with me at my studio in NYC anytime. Email me personally at [email protected]. You are my guest and I will adjust you like crazy so the world can be a little more harmonious.

  21. Elena Brower says:

    Although I've said this below in my long (and final) comment, I wanted to make it clear here too: If I myself make a choice based on my own teacher's recommendation, the only person who has to take responsibility for my choice is not my teacher. It's ME.

    And i don't really buy that "…there is nothing that you need, that you can buy, or hear, or read. You are complete, just as you are," because I've spent 13+ years studying and teaching yoga, and i need major help, every day. Because I've consciously enlisted them, my teachers, coaches, parents, sister, boyfriend, son and especially my ex are helping me all the time to be better. There are no gurus, and I am for sure the first person to tell you that there are no shortcuts. If you want to get on the road to really serving and healing, ask me about it, as I have access to the finest teachers in the world, and they won't let you bow at their feet. You just have to do your f-ing homework, start telling the truth and stop hiding from yourself.

    And as wonderful a dude as Joshua (founder of Pangea) is, his face mask might make your skin glow, but it isn't coming with a side of nirvana. You have to work your ass off for that. Never implied otherwise. So whenever Waylon asks, I'm going to look through my cabinets (see my long comment below regarding abundance) and give him the list. You have the glorious freedom of taking it or leaving it.

    And you too, for your bravery, you get a big treat. Email me and tell me it's you at [email protected]; I'm treating you to your next class, and will be adjusting you like crazy, as i said in my comment below, to make sure this world is a little more harmonious, from our bodies on out. We will have a giggle about this and help the world see the humour. Please.

  22. joshua onysko says:

    "live life to simultaneously achieve fulfillment and emptiness and have gratitude for obtaining neither"

    love you Elena!

  23. Vanita says:

    I am happy to shop at places that have been recommended to me by friends, colleagues, or wildly respected Yoga teachers.

  24. Vanita says:

    This reply deserves a page of its own. I can't even think of a proper adjective to describe how great I think this response is.

  25. Elena Brower says:

    Also BeLOVE is made super fairly in both USA and Peru, and all screening is done in LA, USA.

  26. Sarah N' Paris says:

    Abundance is good, but sometimes less is definately more ~ A person can have nothing, yet be truuuuuly satisfied and filled. A person can have everything and anything, and yet deep down, it is still just not enough, there is still a search.

    I'm not so sure that everyone needs to open up to abundance. Some teachers are meant to teach millions, and that is their walk. Some teachers are meant to teach few, and that is their walk. Everyone's role is different yet equally important. I think we have to be careful as well, self-improvement can be an addiction. . . constantly working on fixing ~ when maybe peace comes with just accepting things as they are.

  27. Elena Brower says:

    Nice, Sarah. True story. Appreciate that thought. And i forgot more teachers that i love, Elizabeth Rossa, Cari Friedman, Jackie Prete, Lois Nesbitt (all super knowledgeable and NYC based).

  28. Nici says:

    Prancing Leopard is 100% sustainable and organic produced in Turkey. They have great give programs in place and the stuff feels like wearing a second skin. Sounds like a commercial but is really just one happy satisfied customer.

  29. Christy says:

    elena, you make me so proud. so proud of the wife, sister, friend, colleague and witch you truly are to me and proud of all you are to so many others. the love of your heart fills the words you write and the space between them. you are a true seeker and a generous guide. keep on doing exactly what you are doing because it is evident to me exactly where it is coming from and exactly where it can help us all to go. gifting each other space, understanding, kindness, laughter, suggestions and some really yummy treats are exactly what we should be doing to honor Valentine's Day. practice LOVE in all ways, every day. ~ your miami wife

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