fitness · online exercise · yoga

Developing my Zoom identity: new options emerging

This is my first week as a Zoom person. I’ve Zoom’ed to department meetings, chit-chats with friends, one therapy session and two yoga classes. It’s surprising to me how effective it is at creating a platform for interacting with other people fairly authentically; I didn’t feel like I was in the same room with my colleagues, but we were all our full selves. In fact, we were more our full selves than usual, with cats and dogs and snippets of home conversations weaving their way into the meetings. I don’t have pets, but I tried out wearing hats for meetings (well, one per meeting), and I may keep it up. I also showed off my blooming orchids to everyone (they’re actually blooming– that’s not my attempt at old-timey English slang).

Therapy via Zoom went really well, and I hope y’all who are therapists or in therapy (or both) find it useful and satisfying, too.

But I’m really here today to talk about Zoom exercise classes. Friends are doing Zoom spin classes, Zoom strength training, and loads of Zoom yoga classes. I blogged about some things I liked about my first Zoom yoga class here: 5 great things about Zoom online yoga class.

One thing I didn’t mention there was this: in a Zoom class, we have choices about how visible to be. We can choose to listen to the instructor but not see them. A class I’m taking today (Jennifer Reis’ Five Element Yoga plus Yoga Nidra Sunday March 21 at 2:30pm, which you can register for here for free; she’s awesome) is set up so that we can see her, but she can’t see or hear any of us. There will be Q&A afterward, but it’s independent of the class.

On Friday, I did a wonderful Flow and Meditate class with Alex Amorosi, who teaches at my local studio Artemis. There were 50–60 people (he estimated at the time) taking the class via Zoom. It was cacophonous at first (in a good way); everyone had audio on, and people were greeting Alex and others they knew; I joined in the happy shouting with teachers and fellow classmates.

Then we got down to the business of yoga. We were all muted (literally), and it was just Alex’s voice (and image, when we looked up at the computer screen), leading us through meditation and asanas. I found it difficult to stay in some of the poses as long as he indicated, and so I came out of the pose for a moment, then got back in it. I do this in classes, too, when I need it. All of my teachers remind us at each class that we are in charge of our practice (workout), and I enjoy that vibe.

However, in the Zoom class, I felt more free to do a modification, or come out of a pose for a moment and then resume when I needed to. I’m sure this is because I knew the other students couldn’t see me, and even Alex the teacher couldn’t see or focus on individual students much during the online class.

One yoga colleague who took the Friday class told me that they turned off their camera and used audio only, as they wanted to be free to do their own thing during the class. They liked hearing Alex’s voice taking us through the series of asanas, and they joined and made modifications when they wanted. Having no video made it easier to do that.

When I posted on Thursday about Zoom yoga, one commenter wrote that she was going to take a Zoom Vinyasa class(more active and strenuous flow), and she was “worried that I won’t push myself as hard without others around me.”

That makes a lot of sense. I definitely push myself harder in classes with others than when doing yoga at home alone. However, I’m thinking of another opportunity that Zoom yoga offers: the chance to take a demanding class that I might not take in person. I’m definitely going to do this. More advanced Vinyasa classes involve poses or variants my body’s never even dreamed of doing (yes, we’ve all posted about this; see Sam’s most hated yoga pose, and my Yoga poses I simply can’t do). Also, they go at a pace that is sometimes way above my comfort level.

Enter the virtual yoga studio class. This is perfect– I can push myself as much as I like/can/want, take microbreaks if I need them, and do modifications when I want and need them.

I know, I know– yoga teachers everywhere are fretting and crying out, “But you are encouraged to do modifications all the time– everyone’s body is different, and everyone’s body has different functionality from day to day. We welcome you wherever you are in your practice!”

Thank you, yoga teachers everywhere. I know this and appreciate you.

Some wonderful things yoga teachers bring to us.

And yet.

I’m liking the idea of taking whatever class I want and not feeling one iota of self-consciousness (other than between me and me, but that’s another post). I get to practice yoga incognita.

By the way, Yoga Incognita is totally going to be my spiritual name if I ever find myself doing loads of kundalini yoga (you can actually request your own spiritual name here). Or maybe some other occasion that calls for a yogi name will come my way. You never know.

So, dear readers and fellow Zoomers, what are your impressions of Zoom movement classes? Do you like them? Are you finding that they are less motivating? More liberating? Hard to see or hear? A way to sneak into a new type of activity? I’d love to hear from you.