Oh, Zoom. It has saved our bacon a bit this past year or so (Skype, who?)
Who’d a thought we’d all be practicing yoga in our own homes as tiny little pixel people on a screen. While it’s not quite the same as the real thing, there is something quite wonderful about rolling out of bed and yoga-ing in your pjs.
(No judgement here).
I now have a year of Zoom-teaching under my belt, so feel it would be a kindness to share a few pointers. Maybe you have been living under a rock and not had the joy of zooming (now a verb, probably).
But most likely you have had to use it for work or those awful online quiz and drinks things. So glad they’ve passed on from this world.
So you have probably been subjected to the joys of screen freeze, and all your best words being cut out because everyone talks at the same time like in real life but on Zoom YOU JUST CAN’T. Oh yeah, and the person who refuses to use the mute function so you get to hear every rustle and body noise they make. More on that below.
So here is a simple, foolproof guide so you are not a Zoom monster.
To Download Zoom
Download it way before you need to join the class or meeting, not one minute before, flapping around in a mad panic. Be ready.
You need to download the free Zoom software onto your Mac or PC, or if you are using your iPhone/iPad/non-Apple-related-device then download the app.
I recommend doing this way ahead of your first class so that your very patient facilitator can be on hand to help you beforehand if you have any problems.
C’mon, don’t be that guy. You know, turns up two minutes after the session has started, loudly fumbling and mumbling while the teacher frantically tries to mute you so you don’t disturb everyone else who is now lying down trying to become very zen, thanks very much. Also your teacher has to repeat the introduction just so you don’t stare blankly at the screen wondering what everyone is doing.
But also don’t show up twenty minutes early. It’s a bit needy, and sometimes the teacher wants to frame the mat, the room and make everything look nice for you all without having to host you. It’s their time too, remember.
Place your laptop, tablet or smart phone (whatever you used to log onto Zoom) in a good position near your mat — I’d recommend having the device camera placed to your side if you want the teacher to see you well enough to help/verbally adjust you.
But if you just roll out of bed and want to do it naked or in your pyjamas you can keep your camera switched off. I don’t judge.
During the class you want view the teacher on full screen —so pin the teacher’s video if they haven’t already spotlighted it for everyone. This allows you to see the teacher on full screen so you can watch what they are doing, rather than your eyes being filled with Not-Turned-My-Mic-Off-Dave every time he adjusts his trousers.
Zoom has a chat function if you want to type any questions or comments once you are muted. It’s preset to message everyone, so if you have anything dodgy to say, just check you are messaging your intended recipient privately.
My friend Ellen once messaged the whole class about something very hilarious and private and everyone read it. How we laughed. Don’t be Ellen.
Anyone that has been to my classes before will know how much I love music, and have made a zillion different (and really, really poorly titled) playlists for my yoga classes over the years.
I don’t play music to students through Zoom, as it sounds awful. But I do share suggestions beforehand so we can all pretend we’re in a room together listening to my lovingly curated playlists.
Obviously you can practice in silence if you like, or choose your own music to play in the background, as if you have followed the steps above you’ll be muted to all of us — and we won’t know that you are actually listening to Celine Dion instead of the super cool stuff I’ve suggested.
It’s nice to say hi at the beginning (unless you are late, in which case, shhhhh), so I tend not to auto-mute people. But then, for the love of Zoom, learn how to use the mute button. No one wants to hear any of these things:
- your dad flushing the toilet
- your dog barking at cars. Or cats. Or the screen. Or itself
- your dubious music selection
All of these sounds also cut the teacher’s voice out. So everyone else on the call will hear your dad’s ablutions rather than my instruction to lift your right knee to your chest.
If you have time and would like to stay for a chat after or have any questions then you can unmute yourself at the end. Please bear in mind that when chatting the mic and sound focuses on one person at a time so we miss things if we all talk at the same time.
We’ve all become a bit better at tech this year, eh? But things still go wrong, so try and mitigate those things before you lob your innocent computer out of the window.
If you should have any problems and your session ends just go back to the link you clicked on at the start, and it will log you straight back in. If it does not then please check your internet and reset.
Check audio and video function at the bottom left menu bar (by clicking on arrows next to audio/video icons you can adjust your settings. You might automatically join with your camera on, but feel free to turn it off if you are wearing aforementioned pyjamas.
The quality of your audio and video depends on your personal wifi or mobile connection — if you struggle with bandwidth, make sure no other devices are connected to your wifi router, and maybe turn your video off. If you struggle during the class it may be worth switching to your phone, but bear in mind the screen will be much smaller.
If you have a yoga mat great, but if not you could use a towel/rug or play with the surfaces in your house and find the most grippy option. Same with blocks, bolsters and straps — if you have them please have them to hand, but if not here are some suggestions:
Shoelaces, belts or ties will work for straps. For blocks you could use a few books piled up. For bolsters you can use cushions or pillows.
Bring a blanket and socks for Savasana. Then you can be like this cat. Comfortable and un-bothered about the world around you.
Learn to LISTEN. We are so used to staring at screens all the livelong day. Yoga classes are an opportunity to reconnect with yourself on a physical, mental and emotional level. So staring at your laptop can keep you in a bit of fight-or-flight mode, and stop you fully relaxing and immersing.
If you can, avoid looking at the screen. The teacher will probably be demonstrating if you really need a visual cue, but try actually listening really hard to what they are saying and moving your body intuitively. It’s tricky at first, but once you get used to listening to verbal cues, you become much more aware of what your body is doing, rather than wrenching your neck around to squint at pixels.
Maybe even close your eyes, give those peepers a break.
I teach three live yoga classes per week on Zoom. If you fancy checking them out, the first one is free. More details here