All About WAKE UP FEST: Q&A With Yoga Wake Up CEO Lizzie Brown
The Yoga Wake Up team dreamt up something really cool over the past few weeks and they can’t wait to bring it to you *live* in the form of a digital festival aptly titled WAKE UP FEST.
Happening on International Yoga Day (Psst! That’s this Sunday, June 21), Wake Up Fest is bringing together lauded yogis, poets and other visionaries for a full day of yoga sessions, poetry, meditation, thoughtful conversation and more. The Colored Girl founder Victory Jones will kick off the inspiring event with the opening ceremony in the morning.
Intrigued? We’re glad! That’s exactly why we asked founder Lizzie Brown to answer a few questions about the first-ever WAKE UP FEST, what she hopes people take away from it and what first sparked the idea. Let’s keep the conversation going and continue to ignite the change.
FYI: WAKE UP FEST is completely FREE to attend with a Yoga Wake Up subscription, which comes with a free 7-day trial. Register here to attend.
Hi Lizzie! Thanks for participating in this Q&A. We’d love to learn more about what sparked the idea for WAKE UP FEST.
International Yoga Day was about a month out and we had been in the process of planning some kind of virtual at-home yoga experience. It felt necessary in these COVID times, and as we were already reaching people at home, we were excited for the opportunity to connect on a global level around such an important holiday for our community. We decided we would move up the launch, a new feature we’d been working on - video live-streaming - and release it on June 21.
But then the unexpected happened. George Floyd was brutally suffocated by a police officer. Breonna Taylor was shot in her home. Global protests began recharging the Black Lives Matter movement and the response from humans around the world was truly magnificent. We all began deeply listening and reflecting on our role in all of this. How might we have contributed to racism? How could we have been better? Been more thoughtful, more aware, more compassionate? Anyway, it simply no longer felt right to celebrate International Yoga Day, commemorating a practice that originated in India and has been whitewashed in the USA these last 50 years, without fully acknowledging how we contributed to its current state.
Our cousin actually came up with "WAKE UP FEST," which felt good, because it’s who we are, but it’s bigger than us. It’s a wake-up call to a higher consciousness, and I believe we are fully experiencing a collective shift in consciousness now. This WAKE UP FEST is just the beginning of that for us at Yoga Wake Up.
What should newcomers and Yoga Wake Up fans expect? And what do you hope they take away from it?
I’ll be honest, it’s video live streamed so anything could happen! But what we hope to see is an energetic shift and a deeper understanding of what it means to unite through movement, meditation, music and dancing. We have brought on teachers that we feel are really representative of the movement — each is compassionate, heart-centered and generous with their time and their gifts.
Fans and newcomers alike should expect something different from traditional Yoga Wake Up programming (since it isn’t audio and each class has been extended to an hour’s time) but the soul remains the same. After this event, we will continue to do livestreams in the app at least weekly (to start). We also will be featuring new Yoga Wake Up audio content in the coming weeks from some of the new teachers featured in the event. We hope the event sparks conversations and change in the yoga space and beyond.
Are there any Yoga Wake Up audio guides you’d recommend to those who want to continue practicing after attending Wake Up Fest?
Immediately following Wake Up Fest we will be adding new content from blkTemple’s Essence Wall, better known as shErOcksYoga, as well as Gaia Scott-Crouch, so stay tuned for those coming this summer! Vance Vlasek has a PRIDE wakeup on the app that speaks to anyone who has ever felt unworthy (so basically, everyone!). It is about self-love and self-acceptance, and his bright energy is unparalleled. I also love his bedtime session IN LOVE WITH THE NIGHT. We haven’t explored sound healing on the app yet, and we’re planning to record more sessions like that of Lindsey Valdez and Sahar Sharif. In the meantime, there are hundreds of sessions for all times of day, all created to help you feel your best.
How would you say Yoga Wake Up is embracing and propelling diversity forward?
This experience these last several weeks has led to an awakening for us too. We spent so much energy focused on making yoga accessible and what we ignorantly thought of as “access” was creating all-levels, beginner-friendly audio-guided sessions, because we felt Instagram had perpetuated an intimidating, skinny, flexible expectation of what a yogi should look like. With our product and our messaging, we wanted Yoga Wake Up to be for every “body” and for everyone. What we unconsciously overlooked was a lack of diversity among our teachers. Now we are committed to changing that. Our definition of access has expanded - we never want anyone to come to our app and not feel it representative of themselves. Hold us accountable. We are making a difference and we want to inspire that change in yoga businesses around us.
Lastly, we have to ask: What do YOU think makes Yoga Wake Up such a standout?
I modestly struggle with this question. There is so much good in the world, especially in the yoga space. Yoga Wake Up, and the founders behind it, just want to contribute to the happiness of others, and do something positive in the time we have. Everything we’ve done with the app is an extension of ourselves. We try to always lead with integrity, do what’s right and listen to the angel on our shoulder. When we get it wrong, we fix it. I am not afraid to say that we’re learning as we go!
WAKE UP FEST is completely FREE to attend with a Yoga Wake Up subscription, which comes with a free 7-day trial. Register here to attend.