If I had to characterize the tone my usual alarm clock sets for the day ahead after it shocks me into consciousness, I’d call it “manic.” It doesn’t help that I hit snooze an average of two to three times either. Not exactly a “greet the day with motivated energy!” kind of scenario.
Which is why I was intrigued by Yoga Wake Up, an app that sends a yoga teacher to your bedside (virtually, of course—don’t be a creep) to coax you awake via soothing instructions and guided stretches.
“We’ve had a lot of people come to us and say this is really changing my mornings,” says Lizzie Brown, whose husband and co-founder, Joaquin Brown, got the initial idea during Jen Smith’s Spirit Yoga class at an Equinox in Los Angeles.
Instead of just ending with savasana, the class started with it too, and the way Smith eased people out of the resting pose into the active part of class made him think the same concept could be applied to getting up and out of bed.
How it works
The app currently hosts more than 30 “wake ups,” and new ones are added very week. Each is an audio recording of a teacher (you may recognize some well-known yogis like Rachelle Tratt and Derek Beres) that ranges from five to 15 minutes long. And they run the gamut in terms of style, from a gratitude prayer meditation that promises it “invokes the presence of the universal love energy” to purely physical stretches with a little bit of intention-setting. You just download the one you want (some are free; others you pay for), select it, and set your wake-up time.
I tried it
Before setting my first yoga alarm, I ran into two issues. One: My husband generally gets up an hour or two later than me, which means I usually turn my alarm off as quickly as possible to try not to disturb him. He’s a really good sport, but I’m pretty sure me twisting and turning to the tune of rainforest noises at 6 a.m. will annoy him. Second: He’s a big guy, and my very small dog has a trick she does called “get as big as possible in the bed at night,” meaning there isn’t much room in our queen-sized bed for elongating asanas. (Maybe Yoga Wake Up should partner with a mattress company to offer California King discounts?)
But on a day when my husband had to get up earlier than normal, I set Laurel Erilane’s “Gentle Dawn Extended” to rouse me. Then, one minute before it was set to go off (I swear), my dog jumps out of bed and starts whining at the door, so before I can allow myself to be awakened in a Zen manner, I have to get up and groggily let her out of the room. I get back in bed and close my eyes for 30 seconds, anticipating gentle dawn.
My muscles feel much more awake than usual in a way I could definitely get used to.
First, I hear soothing nature noises, and then Erilane’s voice tells me to slowly wiggle my fingers and toes. There are a few relaxed poses in bed, and then she tells me to stand up, followed by a short sequence of bedside forward bends, downward dog, child’s pose, and cat-cow. When it’s over, my muscles feel much more awake than usual in a way I could definitely get used to.
“Even just doing 10 minutes of forward folds, maybe a few sun salutations…you just loosen everything up enough to ease you through the rest of the day,” Brown says.
I also do feel more calm and centered than normal, like I’m starting the day with a more grounded mindset. That’s what I’m thinking as I beeline for the coffee maker, of course.