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8 Best Products for Yoga Beginners

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Just getting started with yoga? If you’re a beginner, you likely don’t have any of the tools on hand that you might find at your local yoga studio. However, these tools are crucial for getting in a good workout, as well as for keeping you safe during your yoga practice.

Whether you’re looking into yoga to increase your flexibility, increase core strength or just relax and decrease stress, here are the eight best products for yoga beginners.

1. A Yoga Mat

First things first, you’re going to need a yoga mat. While you could technically do yoga just on your carpet, that’s a beginner’s mistake you won’t want to make. The right yoga mat will give you the level of support you need (go with a softer mat for more joint support), while giving you a safe, grippy, and comfortable surface on which to work.

You’ll want to consider your yoga mat needs (what level of support do you need? do you need a yoga mat that can be taken on the go? do you want a yoga mat that’s water-resistant, if you sweat a lot?) and then make the best decision for you.

Manduka offers a range of mats that are highly rated and beloved by yoga practitioners the world over. Check out what they can provide (as well as their other yoga accessories that they offer from this list, such as yoga blocks, mat towels and more!).

2. A Mat Towel

In addition to your yoga mat, you’ll want a yoga mat towel, especially if you plan to practice a particularly sweaty or strenuous variant of yoga. A mat towel will soak up your sweat while leaving your mat dry so that you don’t end up slipping and sliding on a mat that’s suddenly an exercise hazard.

(Don’t want to drop the cash just yet on a yoga-specific mat towel? Try using a hand or beach towel at first, before you take the plunge.)

3. A Yoga Block

A yoga block is usually made from wood, foam, or cork and is designed to help you achieve harder yoga positions with greater flexibility and balance. For example, if you’re doing a simple pose that requires you to bend hands over head to touch the mat, and your fingers can’t quite reach, a yoga block can give you an extra few inches, so you can achieve the pose and gain the benefits until you’re flexible enough to achieve the pose on your own.

4. A Yoga Strap

Similarly, a yoga strap helps you to achieve a wider range of poses as well. Sometimes also called a resistance band, a yoga strap is simply a (usually) stretchy band of material that allows you to loop the material around your feet, legs or arms as needed, to pull your limbs into the proper position for whatever pose you’re attempting.

5. Yoga Clothes

While you don’t necessarily need yoga-specific clothes, it is helpful to have clothes that are suitable for yoga before you being practicing, whether you’re at home or going to a studio. You want clothes that are light, breathable, and comfortable, and that aren’t terribly tight. You want to be able to freely move, without restriction or discomfort.

6. A Water Bottle

All that exercise can make you thirsty! Having a good water bottle on hand can ensure that you always have a cool drink at the ready. Go with a variant with a sturdy bottom and a secure top, so you don’t risk spilling your drink all over your floor or carpet if you accidentally nudge it out of the way during one of your poses.

7. An Essential Oil Diffuser

Essential oils aren’t just for relaxation. Whether you’re getting into yoga to destress or to get in an extra, low-impact workout, the right essential oils can enhance your experience. Use lavender for a stress-free yoga session, or something like rosemary or eucalyptus for an invigorating session that leaves you feeling renewed and ready for your next life challenge, whether it’s the upcoming workday or simply getting the kids ready for school.

8. The Right Guidance and Resources

When getting into yoga for the first time, choose some helpful materials to guide you through the first few stages of getting acclimated with the practice, poses and entire yoga lifestyle. You can find plenty of free apps (like Down Dog), YouTube channels, and blogs that all are dedicated to introducing beginners to yoga.

Breastfeeding vs Formula

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Nourishing your baby, of course, is one of the most important aspects of raising them, and whether that nourishment should be in the form of breastfeeding or formula is an important decision that mothers-to-be have to make. There’s a bit of a myth that tends to go around about formula not being a good option for feeding babies—this is simply not true. What is true is that leading health organizations do claim that breastfeeding is the healthier choice when possible, formula is a perfectly healthy option that will be even better for some moms in certain situations.

Ultimately, whether you choose to breastfeed or to use formula is a completely personal matter. In order to make the choice that best suits you and your lifestyle, we’ve put together the benefits to each of the two below.

The Case for Breastfeeding

Medical professionals agree that this is the healthiest option, with leading organizations recommending breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months and encourage it for the first year if both the child and the mother are able and willing.

One of the great benefits of breastfeeding is that, statistically, babies that breastfeed visit the hospital for infections less often than babies that rely on formula for nourishment. While formula does a great job at replicating the vitamins and benefits given through breastfeeding, it can fall a bit short in a few categories, and this is one of them. Infections like diarrhea and ear infections are some that can be avoided more easily if breastfeeding.

Breast milk is also much easier for the baby to digest—it is quite literally the perfect food made specifically for each and every baby. This will help babies avoid diarrhea and absorb all of the necessary nutrients more easily. Easily digestible food does have its drawbacks, however, as we’ll see later.

Maybe the easiest and to some the most important case to make for breastfeeding is the cost: nothing. There are certainly products that can help with breastfeeding, from more convenient bras to pumps, but at face value, breastfeeding doesn’t cost a dime.

The Case for Formula

Breastfeeding is often cited as the best option, but it’s important to point out that formula is never cited as a bad option—at least not by medical professionals. It’s still a very healthy option for both mothers and babies, and in some situations, it’s a much better option for the mother’s lifestyle.

One immediate benefit is comfort. Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience between a mother and her child, but it can also be an exhausting and sometimes painful one. There are lots of complications that can arise with breastfeeding that can make it easier for mothers to opt for formula instead, or intermittently.

Tying into the previous point, we had mentioned that breast milk is easier to digest, which is ultimately a good thing for the baby. For the mom, however, this means that the baby is going to need more nourishment sooner, which can certainly be tiring. Formula, being harder to digest, will give moms more time between feeding times, which can be especially helpful towards the beginning when babies need to feed quite often.

Convenience is another big pro for formula, for a variety of reasons. For one, moms might not always be available to breastfeed, and if this is due to traveling or some other need to be away from their baby for an extended period of time, a pump isn’t going to cut it. Diet is another factor. Moms who breastfeed need to watch their diet, since the food and drink they consume will nearly directly be transferred to the baby. If your diet requires you to have something that isn’t the best for your baby, or you just can’t give up your caffeine—both valid reasons—then formula might be a better option for you.

The Takeaway

Whether to give your child breast milk or formula is ultimately a personal choice that has practically negligible effects on your baby’s health. Both options are perfectly good and healthy ways to nourish a baby, and the choice will ultimately depend on your personal lifestyle and preferences.

The Ultimate Gift Guide for Dad this Christmas

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After an overly stressful year pumped full of pandemic and protest-related anxiety, it’s hard to believe that something so heartfelt and happy as gift-giving was something that stressed us out before. Nonetheless, it’s that time of year again, and knowing what to give your Dad for Christmas can be as ambiguous as ever before.

Now, every dad is different, which means we can’t get into super-specific recommendations that will work for everyone. That being said, there are a few guidelines we consider useful to follow in order to make sure you’re considering some of the best gift options this coming Christmas. These will also be good options for any friends you might have that fall under the Dad aesthetic.

Lift Some Spirits

Not everyone loves a good bottle of whiskey, but those that do will be delighted to unwrap this high-proofed spirit on Christmas morning. However, the more they’re into whiskey, the more specific their preferences might be, and the more difficult it might be to guess a bottle that they’d enjoy.

It might be a good idea to do a little bit of research asking friends and family about their preferences; a devout smooth scotch drinker might not be too thrilled when they notice they’ve unwrapped a bottle of rye, and vice versa. If they just like an easy-drinking, smooth scotch, a bottle of Glenlivet 12 or Macallan can be a great option. If they prefer a smokier, more challenging scotch, something like Laphroaig or Lagavulin 16 will be more than great. If they lean more towards American spirits, Wild Turkey 101 and Angel’s Envy are great options for bourbon, and Redemption Rye and Wild Turkey 101 Rye are great options for rye with a great kick.

Morning Pick-Me-Up

Some of the best gifts are the ones that effortlessly work themselves into our daily routines. For many people, and for many dads, one of the first things to do in the morning is to get a good sip of coffee. Naturally, then, a nice coffee maker can be one of the best gifts to unwrap that special morning.

This, of course, will depend on what they like to drink in the morning. If they’re into a strong hit of espresso to wake them right up, the Capresso Ultima Pro is an easy to use espresso machine delivering high-quality coffee that we’d be more than thrilled to use every morning. If you need a little more versatility from your coffee maker, check out the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker. If tea is more their speed, you can check out some high-quality infusers, like the Yossi Stainless Steel Infuser.

Wrist Candy

Some of the best gifts are both fashionable and functional, and some of the best examples of this are watches. Wristwear and timepieces span quite a range, however, and choosing the right one can be careful work. This will depend on whether the person wearing the watch will be more traditional in their style, sleeker, or maybe even more technological.

For traditional, big faced, and stainless steel options, check out Citizen Watches Men’s BN0200-56E Eco Drive. Beautiful, traditional, and functional—hard to go wrong. If a sleek presentation is more what you’re going for, the Process_M1 Watch by Adidas is dazzling and minimalist. If tech is what you need, there are very different routes to go down. On one hand, Apple’s Apple Watch SE and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 are great options for full-tech, cutting edge technology sitting comfortably on your wrist. On the other hand, hybrid watches like Fossil’s Hybrid HR or Withing’s Steel HR are hybrid smartwatches that carry lots of the smartwatch tech features while flying under the radar as stylish, more traditional-looking watches.

Smell Good Feel Good

Cologne is perhaps a very common gift idea, but there’s nothing wrong with being safe! A great fragrance is a gift that lasts a long time and is appreciated by everyone around. This is, of course, highly subjective territory, but especially if you’re going to be around while they wear this cologne, it’s safe to lean towards a fragrance that you enjoy as well.

A revamped take on the classic masculine fragrance can be found in Dior Homme. For something darker and more mischievous (and pricier!), try Gucci’s A Midnight Stroll. For vanilla, moss, and cedar notes that will hug you tight, take a look at Celine Black Tie.

Silky, Smooth Skin

This might fall a bit outside of the traditional Dad-gift style, but we’re firm believers that everyone enjoys looking in the mirror and seeing silky, smooth skin shining right back. Skincare for men might not be quite as common, but that doesn’t make it any less of a great and healthy idea.

There are plenty of great products to start someone off on their skincare journey if they haven’t already. Herbivore by Prism is a great exfoliator that’ll make blackheads a thing of the past, and Fenty’s Fat Water Toner Serum is a great product that’ll bring a shine to anybody’s face.

Much Needed Deep Sleep

New parents in general are all too familiar with the need for a little extra help falling asleep. For some of us, a hot cup of sweetened tea will do the trick, but for many more of us, this certainly isn’t cutting it.

If you’re looking for a gift to get a new dad, consider something that helps them get to sleep quicker and easier, like the Mzoo Sleep Eye Mask. Like a pillow hugging your face from any surrounding light, this mask will help anyone get to sleep faster and rest much more deeply.

The Ultimate Gift Guide for Mom this Christmas

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This year has been an adventure, to say the least, and quite a stressful one at that. As we all cuddle our pillows closer waiting to see what the new year has to offer, we also remember that the time is quickly approaching again to put our gift-giving skills to the test. After everything that’s gone through the headlines, it’s almost funny to remember that this was something we used to stress about.

Nevertheless, choosing the perfect gift certainly hasn’t gotten easier. Moms are superheroes every day of the year—especially this year. What do you get the mom that gives her all every single day? The answer will vary depending on each person, but we think we’ve got a few ideas that can help you out. Here’s how we go about picking the perfect gift for mom.

Morning Fuel

Being a parent is a full-time job, and for a lot of moms, that can be on top of a whole other full-time job. This can make getting up and ready to go early in the morning is paramount. The best gifts are the ones that weave themselves seamlessly into our everyday lives, and for a mom that needs to get the day going, the perfect gift can be a perfect cup of coffee every single day.

Everyone likes their coffee in different ways. If the mom in question likes a strong espresso to yank her right awake in the morning, the Capresso Ultima Pro is a great espresso machine that delivers effortless, delicious coffee. Need to be able to whip up more than just an espresso? Versatility is the name of the game with Ninja’s Specialty Coffee Maker.

Not everyone is a coffee haver, and devout morning tea havers will likely know that different teas need to be steeped at different temperatures. For the morning tea mom, the Cuisinart PerfecTemp electric kettle is a dream.

A Good Night’s Rest

The other part of having to get up bright and early means having gotten a good night’s rest first—you can’t thrive off of caffeine forever! Especially for new moms, but true for busy moms in general, getting to bed early is tough enough. Falling asleep quickly and getting a great night’s rest is another feat altogether.

We all need a little help from time to time, and for the mom who needs a bit of help getting a better night’s sleep, consider the MZOO Sleep Mask. This comfortable piece of sleepwear makes sure no residual light sneaks in and keeps the wearer from falling fast asleep, helping with a better night’s rest and to get rid of those dreaded bags.

A Scent for Success

Fragrances are pretty common gifts, but this is for good reason. Whether they’re intended for everyday use or for special occasions, perfumes are gifts that last quite a while and are enjoyable not only for the wearer but for everyone around.

Viktor&Rolf’s Flowerbomb is shaped like a grenade, appropriately, because it’s an explosion both of aromas and popularity. This crowd favorite is full of jasmine, freesia, and rose. For something a bit bolder, try the coffee and vanilla notes in Yves Saint Laurent’s Black Opium Eau de Parfum. It’s hard to leave Chanel off of one of these lists, and their Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum helps us avoid just that. Notes of jasmine, orange, and vanilla? Count us in.

Glowing with Confidence

Everyone needs to take care of their skin, and for moms that have to deal with the stress of motherhood day in and day out, this couldn’t be truer.

Surprise the mom in your life with some skincare products that will help them look in the mirror and see some flawless skin glowing right back. Check out our recommendations for the best products to help with winter dryness here and our favorite serums that won’t break the bank here.

A Little Glam Feels Good

The mom life certainly isn’t all glamorous. There are some tiring and even downright ugly moments that all moms have to go through. That doesn’t mean, however, that moms shouldn’t get the chance to feel glamorous as much as possible, as well.

Makeup products can be a great gift, but improving the experience of applying makeup altogether, to us, sounds a whole lot better. That’s exactly what this three-part light up vanity mirror from AirExpect does. Reviews have called it essential, and we agree. The detail provided by the three different levels of magnification will take anyone’s makeup game to the next level.

The Perfect Cuddle

Whether it be after a long day at work, or what might feel like an even longer struggle to get the kids to bed, sometimes we just need to sit back on the couch, pour up a glass of wine, put on our favorite show, and hide under a blanket for an hour or so.

As we all know too well, not all blankets are created equal. For the best couch potato experience, many swear by weighted blankets, and among weighted blankets, there’s none better than the Gravity Blanket. Easy to wash and perfect for cuddling, it’s hard to define happiness as anything else. Another great option that isn’t quite as expensive is the Tranquility Blanket.

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What They Don’t Tell You About Postpartum Depression

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Giving birth is full of often clashing emotions, from overwhelming happiness to anxiety, and everything in between. After all, bringing life into this world, and the work that comes afterward is no easy feat. Books, family, friends, co-workers, pretty much everyone will tell you all about what you’ll feel during pregnancy, the pros and cons of breastfeeding, what those first steps feel like, or the first words, but there’s something that nobody seems to mention: Postpartum Depression.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Giving birth is a complicated process that puts your body through a lot of stress and a lot of emotions. It’s natural, then, to feel “off” afterward. In fact, for some two weeks after giving birth, it’s normal and common for new moms to get the Baby Blues, which can take the form of anything from crying fits to mood swings and insomnia. These symptoms usually go away in these first two weeks after giving birth, but they don’t always. Sometimes, these same symptoms are more intense and last much longer. If this happens, chances are your baby blues might actually be a more serious condition: postpartum depression, or PPD.

What Does PPD Look Like?

One of the main and most worrying indicators of PPD is that the symptoms get intense enough to interfere with a new mom’s ability to raise and even connect with her child, and to complete other regular tasks.

Symptoms are varied and can take lots of different forms, but according to the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms can include:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
  • Insomnia or sleeping more than usual
  • Hopelessness
  • Restlessness
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

While all of these symptoms are spelled out, it’s important to note too that symptoms might appear a few days after birth or even months after, up to even a year afterward. Moms suffering from PPD might also not feel the weight of the symptoms 24/7—they can have good days! This can be confusing, too, because it can feel like things are getting better, which can make resurfacing symptoms feel that much worse.

Fathers Can Get PPD Too

Something that many people don’t think to consider is that fathers can get postpartum depression, too. Truthfully, both pregnancy and birth-giving can be quite stressful on fathers as well.

PPD in dads can look like sadness and anxiety, changes in eating habits, and certainly feeling fatigued and overwhelmed. PPD in fathers can certainly have adverse effects on the fathers’ health, but also on the relationship between the father and the baby as well as between the father and the mother. For this and many other reasons, it’s important for fathers to talk with a medical professional if experiencing any of these symptoms.

Talk to a Doctor

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to make sure you’re caring for your baby and for yourself to the best of your ability. The baby blues are normal, but give your doctor a call if your symptoms don’t go away after a couple of weeks, if they get worse, if they make it difficult for you to care for your baby and complete regular tasks, and especially if they bring you thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

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