Mornings are not my forte. I’ve always been the type of person who gets a rush of energy and inspiration between the hours of 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., and it’s normally late at night when I manage to get the bulk of – and my best – work done. This is a routine I’ve been trying to get out of for years now, particularly in recent months since becoming a freelance writer and editor, and officially working to my own schedule. Case in point: It’s currently 11.45 p.m., and I’ve just started writing this story. The irony’s almost too much.
I’ve tried just about everything to shift this unhealthy habit. I started taking supplements to make me feel sleepy (magnesium, that’s you!), and meditate in the evening to unwind. But it’s not really falling asleep that’s the biggest issue – it’s dragging myself out of bed in the morning, a flaw that’s only exacerbated by the onset of winter.
So, when an equally nocturnal friend told about the new alarm clock app that made waking up in winter feel like less of a chore, I immediately hit download. Called “Yoga Wake Up,” the application wakes users up in the morning with a gentle alarm followed by a quick yoga sequence and guided meditation that can be done from bed. Perfect.
After following the standard steps to download, I was prompted to set the alarm and pick a yoga sequence (called “wake-ups”) from a variety of teachers, each offering their own unique style and skill-set. Each wake-up sequence costs $0.99, but you can use it an unlimited number of times once initially downloaded. I chose “Balance” by famous yogi Tamal Dodge and set it for 7 a.m. Wary that the “gentle” alarm wouldn’t be loud enough to get me up, I also set a backup for 7.30 a.m. using my regular iPhone clock. Better safe than sorry – and in my world, you can never have too many alarms.
While all the sequences are a little different, they mostly seem to follow the same structure. “Teachers all have creative license for their own wake-ups but most tend to suggest deepening the breath, wiggling the fingers and toes, and moving into some kind of full body stretch or twist from bed,” Lizzie Brown, the app’s cofounder told me. “These movements feel most natural upon first waking up.”
The app’s designed to bestow physical, mental and spiritual benefits on the user. “By waking up with yoga and setting some intention for the kind of day you want to have, you actually give your day – and all actions that day – a sense of purpose. You can start the day feeling very empowered, collected and prepared mentally for any challenges that come your way,” Brown said. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?
Once or twice between setting the alarm and going to bed, I received notifications reminding me that the Wake-Up Yoga app needs to be active in order to do its job in the morning. That’s important, people, as completely closing down the app will disable it, and could spell disaster for your early AM commitments. So, with my volume turned right up, I hit my pillow some time after midnight.
I woke at 7 sharp to the sound of ocean and some light music. After a few seconds, the alarm grew louder – and then “good morning,” said a man’s deep voice, causing me to double-check my empty bed for a second. Yep, still empty.
The app – err, Tamal Dodge – continued speaking. “Start to wiggle your fingers, wiggle your toes, bringing movement back to the body. Let’s keep a soft gaze and set an intention to be calm, patient, and assertive through our day.” Relaxing ocean noises continued softly in the background. I considered drifting back to sleep. “Keeping your breath nice and deep, bring your index and middle fingers to your temples and start to circle them one direction, just nice and gently,” Dodge said. Eventually he told me to sit upright and then stand. The following 10 minutes included more face massaging, deep breathing, circling of the shoulders, head-nodding, gentle arm and leg stretches, and more of Dodge’s deep, soothing voice. Really, it was a pretty lovely, positive way to begin the day.
I tried to use the app for the rest of the week, but despite realizing it offered a healthy way to ease into the mornings and actually enjoying it, found myself returning to my usual pattern of hitting snooze until the very last minute. Within three days, I had stopped setting the app’s alarm all together! So while it didn’t revolutionize my sleeping patterns, but I would still recommend the 99-cent investment to anyone looking to start their day on the right note. Bad habits are hard to break, but it sure doesn’t hurt to try.