Like many people these days, I'm feeling pretty anxious. It's currently from a mix of stress from multiple jobs, having to move three times this summer, starting grad school in the fall, and of course, the threat of a global pandemic. And while I always remind myself that life could be a whole lot worse — I can just hear Kourtney Kardashian saying, "Kim, there's people that are dying" — sometimes you need to take some action to feel calm and centreed.
Right as this stress started piling up, something beautiful happened . . . and in none other than my Twitter DMs (this is probably the first and last time I'll ever be able to say that). When Lizzie Brown, CEO and cofounder of the Yoga Wake Up app, reached out to me to talk about her app, it sounded perfect for me. As a yoga-lover and a perpetually stressed-out person with irregular sleep patterns, it seemed like this app was created with people like me in mind.
Yoga Wake Up is an audio-guided yoga and meditation app with hundreds of sessions that are updated weekly and range from five to 15 minutes in length. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was content catered specifically to coronavirus-related anxiety, and they drastically lowered their subscription prices to be more accessible right now, at just $35 per year. With programs for the morning (while you're in bed, or to get you out of bed), afternoon (to get you through that midday slump), and evening (for bedtime relaxation), and categories like mood, goals, and family, I was quickly able to find instructors whose styles I connected with.
While there's obviously yoga involved, sessions feel very meditation-based, which I found to be ideal. Here's why: there's no video component. Now, before you groan and leave me no choice but to get out my soap box and talk about screen addiction, hear me out. One of the best parts of this app is that it requires very little time on your device. Since there aren't any super complex moves, it's easy to follow along audibly, and stay present in your body without visual distractions. All you have to do is go into the app and pick something to listen to, or schedule alarms for any day of the week. (Pro tip: you have to open the app at night for your alarm to go off in the morning.)
Taking the time to get in a positive headspace and stretch out my body helped me set an intention that carried me throughout the day.
When I first got the app, I decided to fully commit and set alarms for the days I'd be working, which was every day but Saturday, and see if I'd feel a difference without it. Spoiler: I did, and in a huge way. Taking the time to get in a positive headspace and stretch out my body helped me set an intention that carried me throughout the day. I caught myself saying the affirmations I'd heard in the morning in my head when I was feeling overwhelmed. By the time Saturday rolled around, I woke up at the time my alarm would have gone off. Not once have I naturally woken up at 8 a.m.
I've always dreamed of becoming a morning person, but since I'm constantly sleepy (especially after quitting my out-of-control coffee habit), I'd made peace with the fact that it would never be in the cards for me. But then week two of this experiment happened. I started getting up at 7:30 a.m. because I wanted to keep moving after my meditations, and the extra half hour gave me the time to practice yoga on my back patio — yet another thing I'd wanted to do but never did. The biggest change of all was that I started thinking about developing my sense of agency.
Personality changes with age. You see more, experience more, make mistakes, reflect, adapt. Over time, I've become much less emotional because it made life easier, but it also made me lose my ability to make decisions confidently. When the world is so full of structure and order and other opinionated people, it isn't hard to let someone else call the shots. But in the midst of a global pandemic, everything feels unknown, and we have no choice but to rely on ourselves. Through meditation, I was reminded that when all the outside noise isn't there, we're left to trust, hear, and act ourselves. Now more than ever, that's all we can do.
In these uncertain times, we need to let go of the things we can't control and focus on the things we can. Not only do we need to, but we get to. We get to wake up every day and decide that we're going to make the best of what we have, and do everything we can to stay healthy, physically and mentally. If you need help setting that positive intention in the morning, like I do, try Yoga Wake Up. You won't regret it.