Podcast: Episode 30: Making 1:1 Zoom Work


Whether you’re a yoga teacher, therapist, or health professional, you’re likely aware that telehealth sessions are increasing in frequency. Our ability to do them really well is becoming more of an opportunity, and it’s important to recognize how great online teaching can be.

I started teaching private 1:1 sessions online about two years ago and faced the same doubts and concerns as many people who are figuring it out now. In this episode, I’m sharing my own best practices to help other yoga teachers, therapists and health professionals deliver content more effectively.

Tune in this week as I share some tips and recommendations for teaching online and what I recommend for your teaching practice. I’m discussing the importance of community and collaboration in a virtual world and showing you why what initially might seem to be an obstacle is actually an opportunity for incredible growth!

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What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • What I learned when I first got into online teaching.
  • My recommendations to yoga teachers and therapists for teaching online.
  • Why online teaching is a great learning environment.
  • How I’m using technology to enhance my practice.
  • Why I’ve changed my practice since teaching online.
  • How I’ve adapted to online teaching.

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Male Announcer: You’re listening to From Pain to Possibility with Susi Hately. You will hear Susi’s best ideas on how to reduce or even eradicate your pain and learn how to listen to your body when it whispers so you don’t have to hear it scream. And now here’s your host, Susi Hately.

Susi: With this episode I want to dig into one-to-ones on Zoom. If anything one-to-ones whether you’re a yoga teacher, a yoga therapist, or a health professional, these one-to-one Zooms, these telehealth sessions are increasing in frequency. And our ability to them really well is becoming more and more of an opportunity.

So, this episode is one of sharing my own best practices. But also what I’ve learned in helping other yoga teachers, other yoga therapists, and other health professionals really improve the way that they deliver.

I have been teaching one-on-ones for a long time. And I got into teaching online shortly after my mat leave with my kids. So, about two years ago or so is when I started doing a lot more online work. And I had people that had trained with me or who knew of my work and wanted to work with me, but they were outside of Calgary, outside of my hometown.

And so we started to meet online. And I was really circumspect. I didn’t really know how it was going to go, or how it was going to happen, or if it was going to work. So, I had a lot of doubts and some concern that a lot of people who are figuring it out now, also currently have.

And what I found is that it actually provides a great opportunity for teaching, and a great opportunity connection. And in some cases a better learning environment because there has to be such clarity of focus. And there is almost a demand for making the healing relationship even better because there is the restriction of not being in person.

So I really want to enable this particular episode to show you how great it can be. And I don’t mean that from a Pollyanna perspective. We’re not trying to do the same thing that we were doing in person. This is a different scenario. Some of the principles remain the same but being online and working with our people is a different scenario. So I’m not trying to mimic what happens when we are in person. There are different skills, there are different tools, and how I go in through the process is also different.

So let me explain that. But let’s begin with what is similar. So, in my mind the most important piece of helping someone recover and in helping someone heal is the relationship between myself and my client. It’s the healing relationship. And I’ve shared this in a model that I call the Healing Helix, where my job is to be present so that I can assess clearly and cleanly what’s going on. Which then enables me to select an intervention, and then I can evaluate how that intervention worked.

Alongside that, there’s my client who learns to develop some awareness so that they can become clearer on what’s going on and what’s working and not working. So that out of that clarity they gain better connection and ultimately gain better feedback internally about what’s going on and not going on. And then that helps improve their awareness.

So, when you take a look at this Healing Helix, which you will find in the show notes that you’re welcome to download, is that these two processes happen simultaneously. Wherein my presence helps grow their awareness. My assessment helps grow their clarity. My intervention, or selection of tool, or choice of yoga technique helps improve their connection. And then I get to evaluate how well that worked, which ultimately improves their own internal feedback mechanism.

Now, what becomes really cool in the process is as my client improves that awareness in connection, clarity, and feedback that just raises the bar again for their awareness. So, it just keeps making the relationship better because they’re improving their own inner relationship. So it’s not a power over relationship, it’s power with. And that can be transferred very easily online, right? Because that’s the fundamental piece that’s so vital in supporting someone in that process.

So then, what becomes important is how do we do what we do to support that healing relationship, to help that healing process? So, the first piece is the technology piece. And what it is that I utilize, and what I’ve seen my trainees utilize, and other professionals that I know, and colleagues that I know, what they utilize. And all of us use a computer. We find that the computer is actually a better tool than a tablet or a phone.

And I’ll often say to my clients that if you have to use a tablet, we’ll use a tablet, but the phone is just too small. So, to use the computer or to use the tablet. And then from there, before we come into the session, if they can have set up their computer, turn on the movie camera, so on a Mac it’s like a quick time player for example. And then they can see what I can see. And they can look around and see, “Okay, what does their camera pick up right now?” And they can see how much space.

So the person doesn’t need a lot of space. I’ve worked with people who are in living rooms, or in bedrooms, or in offices. We don’t need a lot of space. We really only need as much space as a yoga mat. But I need to be able to see them. And so, if someone sets up their computer and their camera so I can’t see them, that becomes difficult.

So, I outline that ahead of time about can you just set that up and just see what that space is? I’ve had other colleagues who have actually outlined in a map and a blueprint what that space is that’s required for them to see. And that can also be helpful too, if that extra support is required when working with clients.

The other thing is I have a lot of patience in that first session. And I give room for playing around with where it’s best for that computer. And sometimes if we’re working on the floor the computer is placed in one space. If we’re working and standing, then we move the computer up to a higher space. And there’s a bit of a dance that happens and so I allow that to happen.

And honestly, some professionals have told me they find that a bit of a disturbance. I like it because it has the person, in a very subtle nuanced way, it has the person being a little bit more involved in their process, where they’re making sure that where their camera is enables me to see them. So then it just adds this little bit of a nuance in terms of the relationship of how we’re serving each other in being able to help them move forward. So, there’s a slightly different relationship that’s there, which can be very helpful.

So, I think that technology piece is key. The first being make sure the camera is good. Meaning not using a small framework, like a phone. But more something bigger like a computer, or a laptop, or in some cases a tablet will be okay, but generally I like something that provides a bit broader of a view. But if the iPad works or if another tablet works then A-Okay. It’s just I want to make sure I can see. And then it’s being able to set it up so that if someone needs to move it from a higher level to a lower level, and not to really make a big deal about it, right? Because it’s all part of that nuance, it’s all part of that finickiness.

The next piece is how we’re actually teaching. And there are some movements that I would typically do with a client who is with me, in the same space. Where I know I can get my hands on them and then utilize my hands as a teaching tool. And I can’t do that on Zoom. So there’s some movements I simply don’t utilize because I require my hands to be able to show them. Or I might require my hands to show them.

So, instead, what I choose are movements that both them and I can get a really good sense about. And so I might be able to say to them, “Okay, place your hands on your pelvis and feel where your pelvis is. Now place your hands on your legs and feel where your legs are. Okay, now I want you to do this movement of your legs and your pelvis. And tell me what you feel when you do that movement.”

Because so much of what I teach is teaching people about their movement. Teaching people about how they’re compensating. Teaching them how it is that they’re gripping or bracing. So, I am utilizing that process of teaching in a way that I know that they can feel. In a way that I know that they can perceive. So, because I can’t put my hands in through the screen then how do I support that in happening? So, it’s a lot of in terms of the movements that I choose. And bringing forth the information that will both serve them and then serve me in helping them.

To go along with that it’s my being able to see, and then how it is that I’m providing instruction. What I find has been a real boon in many ways to my teaching process is utilizing my language in a way that’s that much more meaningful and significant. Because, again, because I don’t have my hands and I can’t utilize my hands in addition to my words when I’ve got someone, as I would with somebody who’s with me here in person. I’ve had to come up with ways of expressing that are truly meaningful and significant for them or say it another way that I find to be more accurate.

So it requires me to be that much more present with my client. Which is interesting because one of the pieces of feedback I’ve received from some of the teachers I’ve trained is they feel a bit lost because they don’t feel as present to their client. So, when I share with them that this is actually a process to becoming more present, then that sort of lights them up. Because I need to be able to pay that much more close attention to all of the layers of who they are so that my language really does serve them.

When I have my hands sort of as a backup support or a backup teaching tool, then if what I’m saying doesn’t quit land when they’re in person I can then utilize my hands as something to teach, but I don’t have that ability. So, it requires me to become that much more quiet inside. It requires me to be that much more present and that much more connected to what outcome they desire and where they’re moving, what’s already worked for them, and enabling myself to keep putting those puzzle pieces together in order to keep helping them.

So, it actually raises the game in terms of my ability to be with them, my ability to assess, and then my ability to provide some selection of a tool or a technique that will help them get better connected.

The other piece is it also raises the bar on my evaluation and my ability to see if something worked or didn’t work. And also to engage with them in conversation and bring them that much more into the fold. Because, again, I might be able to utilize my hands and determine how someone is improving when they’re in person with me, but I don’t have that ability at all.

So there’s an engagement that I have improved upon where I can gather more information from the person in terms of what it is that they’re feeling and that they’re perceiving in their body. Which only helps to accentuate the healing and recovery process.

So, it’s quit fascinating how what initially seems to be an obstacle really is an opportunity for incredible growth in terms of the exercises that I might choose, how I might be assessing, and how I might be evaluating what it is that I chose to support somebody. And then from there then asking the client to be that much more involved in the process in a way that is meaningful to them.

So, those are really key pieces. So, a couple other things to help along the way. When I was live and in person, I would often take notes on a piece of paper. And then that paper would go into their file. And then I would give them a piece of paper with the program written on it for them to take away.

Now what I do is I actually use Evernote, and I keep notes on Evernote. So, I’m in front of the computer and I have a note from Evernote just on the side. And I let the person know ahead of time, “You’re probably going to hear me clicking on the computer and just doing a couple little notes as I go, so don’t be astonished by that. I’m just kind of keeping track of what it is that I’m teaching, and some of the insights that I’m having, and some of the insights that you’re sharing.” So then they know that I’m not just answering email while I’m working with them.

And then at the end I’ll usually videotape a piece of the session, what sort of the summary has been. And then while I’m videotaping, I might demonstrate those movements. Or they’ll demonstrate the movements and I’ll provide them input as we’re going. Or if I’m the one who’s demonstrating them, they will provide some input and reminders of what they need remember.

Something else I might do in addition is if we’re having a really good conversation inside of the session, then I’ll ask them if I can record that part of this conversation and send that to them. So I’m always asking, as an aside I’m always asking them A, if I can record the session. And then I don’t do it by default for the whole session unless someone specifically asks me. But then when I do find that we’ve got something really juicy that is very supportive to them then I’ll ask them if I can do that. Then they’ve got that clip that they can refer to later on. So, they’ll get that clip, if that’s something that I do. Plus they’ll get the video or the summary of what then they’re going to do for their program. So, it becomes a really interesting collaboration between them and I through this medium.

Now, some of my clients who were working with me live and in person and we are now doing online work, and are used to having the piece of paper to take home with them, they’ve actually asked me, “Could you still give me a piece of paper?” And I’ll say, “For sure.” And then I will still use that same piece of paper and I’ll write it out. Because for some of them they just need to have the reminder, the piece of paper to go back into their phone, or to go back onto their computer and go through that just as it makes sense for them.

So, then I’ll take a photo of that and I’ll send them the photo of the session, or the photo of the program, so that then they can follow that along. It becomes very straight forward for them to learn however best they can learn.

So to summarize, there are some key things to consider. The first is the technology piece. And have them use the technology that you can see the most of them and have it positioned in a place that is most worthy of being able to see them. And don’t be afraid to give a lot of direction on this so that they can set it up in the best way for you to gather the information that you need to gather. And in fact, the more directive you can be about that piece then the more they can serve you to serve them.

And then really reconsider your queuing. And what are you queuing for? And how is your queuing serving them? And in turn serving you and how you’ve assessed and then how you’re evaluating what it is that you’re doing. And really utilize that as a means for improving your own ability to instruct. And recognize how that’s going to further support the relationship between the two of you in helping them move forward.

Also to recognize that how somebody learns will dictate some of the tools that you use. So whether it’s summarizing the video at the end or providing a photo of a program, or both. Or whether you’re recording all of the session or whether you are recording a segment of the session. Just keep in mind and allow for the flexibility to be able to meet your person where they’re at and what it is that they need.

And don’t be afraid to ask them, like, “How is this is going and how can we improve it?” Or “This is what I did with this client, would this be something that would serve you?” Like, don’t be afraid to offer that up because, again, this provides such an opportunity for community, and for collaboration, and for greater improvement that it’s really interesting what people’s feedback are. And simply just asking them, they might not have considered to even share with you what would make it better. But simply by asking the question out loud it’s very interesting what they will bring back.

If there’s questions that you have and you want to up-level your own game with improving how you do your one-to-one Zooms, just send us a note and an email and Pat can answer any questions in terms of providing support. The process is simpler than you think. And so if you find yourself, there’s part of you that really wants to do them or wants to improve your ability to do them, I’m happy to support you along that way. So, you have a great time exploring, happy to help you out.

If you want to up-level your technical skill you will love the Therapeutic Yoga Intensive. You can find out more at thetherapeuticyogaintensive.com or send an email directly to us at [email protected]

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