fitness · technology

Making myself (and my body) comfortable on Zoom

Zoom is where we live, work and play now. It’s an all-purpose mode for working. socializing, exercise, worship, therapy, education, politics, healthcare… pretty much everything. I’ll use it as a verb to text a friend, “zooming now; talk later”.

Now that we’re all zooming to everything all the time, people are starting to develop new zoom norms for everything from what to wear in zoom meetings (from the waist up, that is– pj bottoms are always in zoom fashion), to how best to create good lighting for yourself in a zoom setting. Designer/director Tom Ford wrote a piece in the New York Times on how to look good on camera.

There is loads of advice about how to look your best in zoom meetings. Mostly it’s about good lighting, but you can read more here.

One thing I haven’t seen people writing about, though, is how to FEEL good in a zoom meeting. How do you make yourself feel comfortable in a virtual interaction that’s important to you?

I’ve been trying out different body postures and laptop locations and configurations over the past couple of weeks, and I’ve learned a few things.

First and foremost, my body has to be comfortable. For me that means not sitting for hours at my dining room table. I prefer having my feet comfortably on the floor and being able to lean forward and back and move around in my chair, adjusting with pillows or cushions. Sometimes I sit on the floor of my living room with my laptop on an ottoman. That way I can move my legs around and stretch or adjust however I need.

I’ve also tried standing, facing my laptop (set up on an ottoman on my dining room table). That works for a meeting, but not for teaching. If I’m standing while teaching, I want to move around. But I can’t, as I’m tied to the laptop most of the time. This is a learning process, and I’m trying to pay attention to what works and what makes me feel the least creaky over hours of meetings and teaching.

Second, not all zoom meetings are work-related. I go to zoom church on Sundays, have zoom chats with friends and zoom therapy as well. For me, this means finding a body posture and options for motion that suit the purpose and feeling of the activity. I found that I need to sit more forward in order to sing during zoom church. And for therapy, I want to be more physically aware of my body while talking and listening. Both of these situations require a shift in how or where I place myself. I’ve noticed definite improvements in the quality of the zoom experience by paying closer attention to the ways I’m physically holding myself.

Finally, I have zoom yoga to thank for my awareness of my own bodily comfort or discomfort in all these zoom settings. The great thing about zoom yoga is that it’s actually yoga. You’ve got your mat, and you’re actually doing real yoga in your own body, being cued and directed by the instructor online. I found it easy to feel comfortable in the virtual yoga classes, as what I did was the same. What I wore was the same. What they said was the same. Yay for sameness!

With all that is new and different about virtual meetings and activities, reminding myself that I’m in the same body, and that body has different wants and needs in different situations (even virtual ones) has made zooming a bit easier.

Now all I need is some better lighting.

Lots of technical stage lighting. I wrote, "too much?"
Too much?

Readers, how are you managing with doing everything A to Z over zoom? How are your bodies faring? Are you doing anything different for particular situations? I’d love to hear from you.

One thought on “Making myself (and my body) comfortable on Zoom

  1. Catherine, you read my mind. I’m working on a post for my teaching blog about the “pedagogical spacing in the time of zoom” issue. I miss the movement and rhythm of teaching, and the energy drawn from live interaction with students. Can that be zoom-ported? I’m thinking about this by using my Iyengar yoga as a model – Iyengar is different from flow because the teacher needs to be able to move around and check everyone’s alignment as they practice, and the holds are for longer. In our online Iyengar work so far, the teacher demos the pose and then we go in, with her up close to her screen looking at each of us in turn. We are asked to place our screens and cameras so that she can see the whole of us and the whole of our mats. She stands at her screen, which as far as I can tell us on a shelf. It feels quite natural and intimate, and much different from all the other zoom space/body experiences I have regularly.

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