If you can't afford a spa vacation or even a spa day, consider a stress-reducing DVD. (Come to think of it, you could probably use one yourself after all that shopping.)
Trudie Styler's Warrior Yoga
Ready to take a mental vacation? How about a 45-minute yoga retreat at Trudie Styler and husband Sting's Tuscan villa, Il Palagio?
In this video, Styler and her fitness guru James D'Silva lead you through a flowing sequence of sun salutations, standing poses and forward bends set to some soft acoustic versions of Sting's music.
D'Silva's instruction is solid and soothing as he guides you to "yawn it out" in more strenuous postures and conducts period body awareness checks to make sure you're in alignment.
However, this DVD is probably best suited for intermediate yogis with endurance and a wider range of movement. (The moves are not illustrated with props such as straps or blocks.)
Included on the disc are a 25-minute express workout and two pleasant five-minute guided meditations for further relaxation.
Price: $14.98; available online and in stores.
Element: Tai Chi for Beginners
Learning tai chi from a video often can be more frustrating than relaxing. But this video, starring Samuel Barnes, founder of Tai Chi Works in Beverly Hills, does a great job of breaking down the postures, as well as the subtleties in the gestures, shifts in weight and breathing. And the excellent camera work captures the movements clearly, zooming in close when needed.
Throughout the 23-minute instruction, Barnes moves as a mirror image to you, coaching you on how to synchronize your breathing with the movements.
"Go to sleep with your energy on the exhale," he instructs, as hands sink down in one of the classic postures, such as "ride the dragon" or "guard the temple." A flowing 11-minute sequence follows the instruction and can be done separately.
However, just as important for the Type-A person on your list is the 19-minute qi gong breath-and-movement meditation to relax and loosen up tight muscles and joints.
Price: $14.98; available in retail outlets and online.
Yoga Journal: Complete Beginner's Guide
You probably know at least one person who won't learn something new unless he or she can achieve total mastery of it. This two-disc DVD set is for just such a perfectionist.
The set doesn't contain anything revolutionary. The basic 60-minute yoga practice is led by Yoga Journal's quietly competent Jason Crandell, and it includes basic shoulder openers, sun salutations, seated twists and standing poses. For more experienced yoga practitioners, this DVD might be a bit of a snooze.