Who knew, back on Monday 16th March 2020 when I taught my first ever livestream yoga class on Zoom, after 14 years face to face teaching, that we’d be where we are now, almost a year on?
Perhaps, like many, you’d not even heard of Zoom prior to the pandemic, but now it’s how you work, home-school, connect with friends and family, socialise, learn, and maybe, practice yoga. It seems Zoom has taken over our lives, but it’s also allowed us to stay connected safely.
Whilst this has had huge advantages, it’s also begun to take its toll. ‘Zoom Fatigue’ is yet another new term that’s been added to our collective vocabulary this past year, along with ‘social distancing’, ‘lockdown’ etc. So what is it? And have you been suffering from it?
Zoom fatigue is the state of feeling physically and mentally exhausted after a lot of video conference meetings, connections or livestream classes. And I know that many of you have been writing to me about it, sharing with me your struggles to show up for yoga online after a whole day behind your screens.
Going to yoga class used to be our refuge from our day-to-day, but now our roles are all blended together as we live, work, learn, and play all in one place: in front of our computer at home. Understandably, as a result many people are finding it less appealing to do their yoga through Zoom even though now is a time when we could use our practice the most.
Luckily we CAN combat Zoom fatigue. Here are some tips to help you get back on your mat and reconnect with your practice, especially on the days you find it hard to show up
1. Take a few minutes before class starts to get settled.
While one of the benefits of livestream yoga is that you do not need to physically travel anywhere to take a class, our practice is still a journey and it is important to get grounded before we embark. Instead, many of us are doing a million other things right up until the start of class, when we then scramble to log in on time. We think we are maximizing our time by doing this, but taking a few moments to sit quietly will have far greater benefits for our nervous system and overall well-being than answering more emails or doing one last household chore.
Set yourself up on your mat at least five minutes before class starts. Feel free to keep your camera off so that you don’t feel any pressure to engage or be “on.” Get comfortable and take some deep breaths; your practice will probably feel richer for it and you'll likely feel more present throughout class.
2. Minimize the screen and just use sound.
When you were doing yoga in a studio, how often were you watching the teacher or other students while practicing? I would guess not very much. While you may look up once in a while to make sure you are following along, you’re often gazing at fixed points in the room. However, when you are practicing online, there is often an unconscious urge to want to watch the screen and the teacher and, let’s be honest, ourselves. This split attention can tax the brain and is exactly the opposite goal of our practice, which is to find a one-pointed focus.
Try shrinking your Zoom window all the way to a small toolbar and just listen to the sound of the instruction. If you get a little lost, so be it! Ultimately you are your own best teacher, and practicing in this way encourages you to stay in your body and experience.
3. Invite loved ones to take class with you.
Another cause of Zoom fatigue is the stress of social interactions in that setting. Where we perhaps used to find comfort in socializing before or after class or, at the very least, being in a room with other people, it can be much more difficult trying to connect with our friends or teacher before or after livestream classes.
Create your own mini Zoom room by inviting people in your household to practice with you. Or if you feel comfortable practicing outdoors as the Spring comes in, maybe bring your phone or computer outside and invite a friend or two over to join you for class. Or if getting together in person does not feel safe, why not pitch in for a group Zoom (or solo) private with me to get more focused attention?
4. Avoid multitasking.
Not only does Zoom yoga allow you to not have to commute, but now you can turn your video off and remain anonymous! While that is appealing for many people, it also becomes an invitation to do whatever else you need to get done during class. Suddenly, you can check your phone or get up and walk away. The studio setting used to provide a container in which outside distractions were removed.
Put your phone in another room if you’re able, lock the door if you have one and are able, and make an agreement with yourself, and others in your household, that other than emergencies or bathroom breaks, you will remain on your mat for the duration of class. Everything can wait, and you will be much better able to handle all that needs your attention after a focused class than you will if you are trying to answer that work email in the middle of practice!
Some people are now also experimenting with keeping their videos on during class to feel ‘seen’ and stay accountable to themselves during the time gifted for practicing yoga – try it and see if it makes a difference for you
5. Stay in savasana longer.
Not being at a face-to face class means that there is no longer a transition between yoga time and returning to work or home duties. Grabbing our phone right away and jumping right back into our to-dos is a surefire way to lose our yoga vibes fast!
At the end of class, why not turn your video off and/or mute the teacher and stay in final rest a few minutes longer. This will help you to ease back into the external world versus jumping right in.
Doing yoga connects us, whether we’re physically together or not.
I know that Zooming yoga is not the same as practicing yoga in a live group setting, but it does have the huge advantage of allowing us to keep up with our practice in some semblance of community. And at the end of the day, all we really need is our mat and our breath, for the practice reminds us that we are always connected to one another, whether we are in the same place or not, and that is a great gift in our lives.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, AND I’d love to hear what type of classes and sessions would be most helpful to you right now – do you prefer shorter bite size mini practices? Enjoy longer full length classes? Like some breathing practices or meditation as stand alone sessions? Let me know in the comments or email me firstname.lastname@example.org