We’ve all been there: the alarm clock goes off and — after hitting “snooze” a few times — we get out of bed feeling groggy. Not a great way to start the day. But now, there’s an App for that! Thanks to Lizzie Brown, founder of Yoga Wake Up, you can use yoga to wake up naturally each morning instead of that pesky alarm clock. Om… mazing! We recently caught up with Lizzie to chat more about her app — and how an idea launched her dream job.
HOW IMPORTANT IS MORNING ROUTINE IN THE SUCCESS OF ONE’S DAY?
LB: How our day unfolds ultimately begins with how we feel upon waking up. Am I exhausted? Am I overworked or stressed? Starting your day with a few minutes of deep breathing, meditation and some yummy stretches can be monumental in how the rest of your day may go. I see this most clearly with my stepson, who is 10. On the mornings where he follows his “checklist” and has ample time to complete everything, he is relaxed and positive. On the mornings where we wake up late or start out on the wrong foot, things unfold quite differently and we’re lucky not to kill each other before we head out for school and work. I love how the simple routine of setting a Yoga Wake Up (with bedtime reminder) for the following morning gives me a mental nudge toward making the next day great. It says, “I value me (and my sanity) and am going to take 10 minutes for myself in the morning.” Just building in that personal spiritual time is committing to my health and wellbeing.
Once we’ve gotten our stretch in and awoken with peace, I feel compelled to calmly make breakfast and lunch and move throughout the rest of the morning. Developing those healthy habits have a great impact on how easily the rest of the day unfolds, allowing me to approach each challenge at the office with a sense of mindfulness. I honestly don’t think I could function without keeping the routine in check!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF WAKING UP TO YOGA (WITH THE HELP OF YOGA WAKE UP) INSTEAD OF USING A TRADITIONAL ALARM CLOCK?
LB: I think we can all agree the traditional alarms DON’T WORK! Whoever thought it made sense to jolt us awake with the sound that a semi makes when backing up was seriously disturbed! No. Waking up gradually is much more effective and our users agree. Many say the app has transformed their mornings, sending them off in a blissful state, relaxed and flexible, both physically and mentally. Many users also report the brief yoga sequence inspires more physical activity – one told us on Facebook that after her wakeup, she usually has an urge to go for a run or get in a little more exercise, while another user told me that during Rachelle’s wakeups, which have a bit more flow, she usually breaks a sweat and feels accomplished.
ALARM CLOCKS CAN DISTURB SLEEP PATTERNS, WHICH MAKES YOU FEEL GROGGY THE REST OF THE DAY. HOW DOES YOGA WAKE UP SOLVE THIS PROBLEM?
LB: I believe if we’re getting the amount of rest our body needs (for me that’s about 8 hours – I LOVE my sleep), we will wakeup easily to even the most subtle sounds. A Yoga Wake Up gradually begins with soft music and then about 30 seconds in, the teacher prompts you to deepen your breath. For me, once I start moving and breathing deeply, my body and mind awaken. It feels SUPER natural. When the wakeup ends there is almost always a smile on my face. I am mentally charged and ready to start the day!
Now I know people that say, “Yeah, that won’t wake me up – I need to be hit by a freight train to get out of bed.” I say, “Well you might need more sleep!” I don’t think that any alarm is effective for curing grogginess if you’re simply exhausted. That’s where the importance of that routine comes back in!
WHAT WERE YOU DOING 7-10 YEARS AGO BEFORE YOGA WAKE UP?
LB: 10 years ago, at 23, I co-founded my first agency Dell et Ruhs, a boutique firm that specialized in contemporary fashion brands. As it became more popular, we began representing activewear, launching brands such as Lorna Jane and Carbon38, and as my work and personal interests evolved more into fitness and health, I decided to make the change and leap fully into that world. Since 2014, my husband and I have had our company Kamala Collective, which focuses fully on fitness lifestyle brands such as Speir Pilates and Tempo Bicycles.
IS YOGA WAKE UP YOUR DREAM JOB?
LB: I didn’t know it when we launched, but yes, 100 percent! I get to build a brand from its inception (something I only have the opportunity to contribute to with my clients). I get to make my own mistakes and learn from them. I get to relish in each achievement and best of all, I work with my husband, my best friend, every day!
WHEN DID YOU HAVE YOUR “AH HA” MOMENT OF YOGA WAKE UP?
LB: First, I think it needs to be said that this was not our first attempt at creating an app. My husband, Joaquin, is an iPhone developer and it has been his dream to have a successful app on the Apple App Store. Our first and second ideas didn’t really hit but with Yoga Wake Up, we did a Kickstarter – he had to build a prototype to hold the space on the app store. When our Kickstarter randomly got reviewed by DoYouYoga and we got over a thousand downloads (OF THE PROTOTYPE!) we were like, “Oh shit, this one’s good!” People from all over the world were into the idea and we hadn’t even built the real thing yet!
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THIS BUSINESS CONCEPT & DID YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE IN IT PRIOR?
LB: This is where I think we make a great team. My husband came home with the idea after a “Spirit Yoga” class at Equinox Marina Del Rey taught by Jen Smith. It starts in savasana and then gets you moving slowly and onto your feet for vinyasa. He likened it to waking up – we start in corpse pose and then move through stretches while still lying down, easing our bodies awake and into movement. It’s so intuitive! We were good partners to bring this idea to fruition – we’re both avid yogis and because of my PR experience in this industry, we had a lot of connections with teachers, studios and media. Joaquin had experience building apps of all kinds and we learned from the mistakes we made with our previous two apps. It has felt like an extension of what we already do and do well!
HOW DID YOU FUND YOUR STARTUP?
LB: Let’s see! We’ve sold one car, the Kickstarter, Citi, do whatever it takes, right?! We’re self-funded and we’re making it work.
NAME 3 OF THE SCARIEST MOMENTS YOU HAD WHEN DOING THIS.
LB: It’s all been a little scary (and exciting). Hard to differentiate between the feelings! It’s never easy taking money from savings and saying, let’s hire a designer, or let’s rebuild the website, when you aren’t completely certain that it will pay off. But you have faith I guess, and enjoy the journey. I like to practice non-attachment, particularly, with money. We will just go find another way, if it fails, we’ll figure it out! Honestly, that’s just how I live my life. It’s just not that scary to take those kinds of risks… Do I have a roof over my head? Is Joaquin with me? Alright, we’re cool.
WHAT IS YOUR PIECE OF ADVICE TO ANYONE WHO WANTS TO STOP WHAT THEY’RE DOING AND CREATE THEIR “DREAM JOB”?
LB: First off, maybe don’t stop what your doing! If you have funding or you hate your current situation, sure, you could focus 100 percent on the “dream” and maybe get there faster. But you could also maybe crash and burn because you ran out of money or didn’t have time to make the valuable mistakes you need to learn from! We have built this slowly. It was less of a risk (we have a kid to think about) and we weren’t ready to give up on the agency we have built that we are also very proud of. I read an article today in Fast Company validating this. If you have to build it quickly for fear of someone else doing it first, then it’s not the right idea. Instead it’s about “Why am I the best person to start this?” If you’re uniquely great at this and you know you can do it better than anyone else (in our case, I feel prepared by my fantastic relationships in yoga and wellness among teachers and media, and Joaquin is an experienced iPhone developer who also happens to be great at almost everything else he puts his mind to!) then it’s yours to take your time with. Don’t rush it, celebrate the small victories and build a lasting brand.