Could making one simple change in the morning have a real impact on your daily stress levels?
Los Angeles-based yoga teacher Lindsey Valdez thinks so.
“I think that it’s a chronic problem that people immediately reach for their phones and then start scrolling through Instagram and emails,” she says. “That can immediately set off anxiety or angst, and it just completely negates that sweetness in the morning, that opportunity to set an intention for the day or to even recognize how you woke up, how you’re feeling, what’s going on today, etc.”
It’s why she created in-bed yoga audio sequences for the app Yoga Wake Up, which literally replaces your regular alarm with a yoga teacher’s voice instructing you to slowly start to move around to greet the day.
“Yes the phone is nearby and it’s running, but you get to wake up to really relaxing music and then a soothing voice and then you get to energize yourself in a sweeter way,” she says.
Why You Should Stretch Before You Step
The part that really speaks to her is the fact that you stretch and focus on your breath in bed before your feet ever hit the floor, which is something she tries to practice in her own life each morning. “Anytime that you can focus on breathing and stretching into your body, even if it’s just literally arms up overhead, interlace your palms, flip them inside out, breathe into your ribs, take a few head circles…that, to me, is everything. It could be two minutes or a full morning practice.”
And Apply Mindfulness to Other Habits
And Valdez applies a similar sense of mindfulness to other a.m. habits, like giving up coffee because she felt like her body wasn’t digesting it well. “I started to recognize that it was making me spike and crash, and it was just this thing I was doing without thinking about it. It wasn’t serving me,” she says. (Coffee might work for you, it’s just about paying attention to your body.)
To replace her java routine, she’s now making morning smoothies or iced matcha, which she whisks up and sips with cashew milk. “It feels really thoughtful to me.”
You can also take stress out of your mornings by starting the night before, she says. “Showering at night is my ritual. I can really take my time and not feel rushed and luxuriate in it. It calms me and cools me down, and it’s just this letting go of the day.”
In-bed yoga also works for powering down at night, she explains, and Yoga Wake Up recently added bedtime routines. Ending and starting your day with yoga sounds pretty ambitious, but hey, why not set the intention and see what happens?
(Photos: Yoga Wake Up