Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

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Posts Tagged ‘Zoom’

Nia White Belt P2 – Natural Time and Movement Forms – 2020

Posted by terrepruitt on July 13, 2020

Principle 2 of the Nia White Belt has two parts. Nia White Belt Principle 2 is Natural Time and Movement Forms. As you may have seen, I am re-taking the Nia White Belt training online and so far, the information, the bones of this principle has not changed . . . and that is comforting. It is nice to know that we – from the first Nia White Belt that experienced these principles to now – are all still moving from the same point of reference. Back when I took the Nia White Belt training in December 2008 they were developing new images called triads. We were the first class to get a glimpse of them and be shown how they “worked”. Nia is still using the triads to help students learn and embody information, but as I mentioned in a previous post, we are being presented with the latest langage to be used by Nia, but so far the core of the principles have been the same. In addition to the BRAND NEW (not even been printed) Nia White Belt “Sense” Book (the training manual) we are also reading The Nia Technique Book. The Nia Technique Book has pages and pages devoted to Nia White Belt Principle 2 – Natural Time and Movement Forms.  It is a vast principle.

First of all, I want to remind you that Nia is amazing. It is a holistic model for movement and life so it has A LOT of depth. The training material they put out is ALWAYS mind blowing. And over the years they have added more and more things to the toolbox. So, I am not disclosing everything we learn, I am not sharing all of the information because it really is something one needs to experience for themselves. All of the stuff I share – ok, most of it – comes from the publicly available book The Nia Technique Book.

The first part of the principle: Natural Time. I don’t have much to add to my first post on Nia Natural Time. There is a triad for this, but, again, not sharing ALL of our training with you because that just wouldn’t be fair. The first part of P2 is about moving in your own time and using the 13:20, your 13 major joints and your 20 digits, for movement, and about what Nia calls measure which I equate to proprioception, where you know where your body is in relation to things around you and to your own body.  This is very helpful when you are dancing with a lot of people.  It is also VERY helpful nowadays when you are observing social distancing. You use movement and measure to move in your body’s way.

The second part of the principle is Movement Forms. There are three arts that each contain three different movement forms. Now, I say we may use moves from each art because when exercising and/or dancing you are probably going to do a punch or a kick and/or a shimmy or a cha-cha-cha. But I do need to be clear that we are not actually DOING any of these forms. We just use elements from each form or even more accurately we use the energy of each form.  Since we are still using The Nia Technique Book in training, I feel that my previous posts can serve as information regarding each art and its included form.

The “Arts” are Martial Arts (MA), Dance Arts (DA), and the Healing Arts (HA).  Within each art is the form from which we use energy.

T’ai chi is the slow dance
Tae Kwon Do is the dance of precision
Aikido is the dance of harmonious spherical motion

Jazz Dance is the dance of fun, showmanship, and expression
Modern Dance
is the dance of creating shapes in space
Duncan Dance is the dance of free-spirited, honest movement

Feldenkrais is the dance of conscious awareness of sensation,
the Alexander Technique is the dance of movement from the top
Yoga is the dance of conscious alignment of bones and joints

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I am sharing the hastily drawn triad regarding the movement forms because it helps with understanding the organization of them.

For our homework we spent time discovering our energy personalities in relation to the nine movement forms.  In our training we spent time dancing each movement form to see how the different energy allowed our bodies to move.  It is fun to explore and maybe learn new ways to move.

And there you have it Principle 2 of the Nia White Belt hopefully it gives you a little insight as to how we dance Nia and even how we move through life.

Might you play with dancing using one of the movement forms?  See what is your favorite form of expression?

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Deflated By My Technology Struggles

Posted by terrepruitt on June 24, 2020

Wow. My day did not go as I had planned. How about you? I am teaching classes via Zoom and I am borrowing an amazing microphone from my husband’s office, it is great. It picks up sound incredibly well. But as the days continue to be so hot, I cannot function without a fan blowing directly on me. That is one of the things I miss (aside from my students!) when teaching from home – AIR CONDITIONING! Whew! It is hot. There is no way I can teach without a fan. I think the way Zoom is and the way the microphone is, it picks up the fan noise, but not so much the motor noise from the fan, but the air. I think they both work to keep that noise from transmitting and so it cuts out. So while I am instructing, my voice cuts out. When we are dancing the music cuts outs. It makes it difficult for students to follow. So, I broke down and bought a wireless headset mic.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia online, Zoom meetings, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, Nia Technique, Yin Yoga, stretch classes, online exercise, Zoom classes, virtual yoga, City of San Jose online exerciseI was taking a class from a friend and she was using a wireless headset mic and she told me what it was so I did some research. I researched for a few days and then with free returns available, I decided to get it and try it. It arrived Friday evening and I played with it all weekend.

I did tests, of all types, on Zoom – tests with music, without music, with speakers, with iTunes, with CDs, with fans, without fans . . . just all types of tests.  It worked great. I was fully prepared and so excited to teach Nia today.

My students “arrived” and we said hello and then I pressed play and my sound kept cutting out. Now, to me it is very important for my students to have good sound, that is why I am doing all this – and they did, but if I don’t have sound, I have nothing to teach too . . . . or worse, my sound was out of sync – to them . . . so I was instructing “off music”. It is very difficult to dance with instruction that is “off”. Sigh.

It was so bad, we restarted and I ditched my new toy for the old way.

I have not given up yet, but I was pretty deflated today. I had been so excited, I had done so many tests, I had spent so much time, I was ready to wow my students and make it great and so (insert sound of air being pushed out of a balloon). But, my students are very kind and understanding, they always have been. So their kindness made me feel a lot better.

As I said, I have not given up. I think I may have found a way to keep my sound from cutting out, but we will see.

I just thought I would share a portion of my day with you because I know that sometimes I can write it out and it helps.  I typed this out, then “sat on it” debating about posting it . . . people like positive and people certainly don’t want to hear that a class they are being asked to pay for has sound problems.  But, I also feel it is ok to be “real” and share struggles.  And . . . I can get “over” it with the combination of sharing and my students being so understanding.  Also, this is not to say everything is bad, this is just me sharing a bump in my journey in this odd new reality.

How was your day? What did you do?  Care to share, whatever it was?

Posted in Online Classes, Zoom | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Latest Zoom Discovery

Posted by terrepruitt on May 27, 2020

I am confident that somewhere on the Zoom website it tells me all the information that I keep discovering and sharing with you. But I haven’t looked at everything they have on their site and I haven’t joined any of their training sessions, which I am sure . . . probably would have informed me of my new discovery. Since my students have confirmed that they want to continue taking classes online I figure there might be other people that will be continuing to use Zoom even as areas begin to re-open. Where you live is dictating what phase of re-opening you are experiencing. I live in one of the “strictest” counties in California. So we can’t do what some areas are doing. So . . . as I continue to discover stuff on Zoom I will continue to share it. My latest discovery could be something I just noticed or it could be a change with the latest version of Zoom, I don’t know, but I really appreciate it. And I am sure it has an official name or description, but I’m gonna call it “small screen set-up”.

Some of you are familiar with Zoom and some are not, so I will explain a little bit. When you join a Zoom meeting you have the option to allow your device’s camera to transmit a video. I’ve talked about “non-video participants” before in a post. There are a gazillion reasons why one might not want to have their camera on so it is truly up to the individual. If you choose not to have the video on it can be just a black screen or you can upload a picture so that participants will see that instead of a black screen with your name. I have a picture showing when my video is off.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia online, Zoom meetings, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, Nia Technique, Yin Yoga, stretch classes, online exercise, Zoom classes, virtual yogaWhat I just discovered . . . . so excited . . . is that when I have my video settings screen open I can still see myself even when my video is off. So, this is very important to me because I encourage my students to join a class early – before the actual start time! I want them to be able to say hello to their friends AND be able to set up their device so they can see and be seen if they so choose. But sometimes I am still readying my space so I want them to be able to join the meeting and ready their camera, but I am still getting mine set up. I used to start the meeting and start transmitting and just shuffle around on screen, but now I can have my picture up and still see what the camera sees and what the class will look like.

Could be that I hadn’t noticed this because I only really needed it once or maybe twice. I like to try to sign on and be all set up when students show up but even though there isn’t a lot going on right now, a couple of times I was not able to be that timely so this is cool!

If you use the Zoom application then you have access to your video settings and you can do this.  I wasn’t sure if it only worked because I was host, but it works even if you are a meeting participant.

So . . . how do you Zoom?

Posted in Online Classes, Zoom | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Online Changes

Posted by terrepruitt on May 25, 2020

Teaching online is different than teaching in person. As you can imagine. If you have taken an exercise class online, especially from your same teacher, you have probably noticed some differences. I thought I would just share some of the things I am doing different.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia online, Zoom meetings, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, Nia Technique, Yin Yoga, stretch classes-I am facing my students. When teaching Nia I like to face away from my students because one of the thirteen principles I was taught when I attended my White Belt training about 12 years ago was “Teach what you sense.” So it is easier for me to teach to my left arm (as an example) when I am actually USING my left arm. Now when I instruct students to use their left arm I am using my right.  So I am not using sensation to teach as much. When I had taught yoga in person I often faced my students, but pretty much always faced away when doing twists. It seems twists really twist people’s brains.

-I am moving “smaller”. For Nia, the space I am using is large enough to move around fully, but if I use the whole space it can take me off camera. So I try to stick to what the camera can see.  Staying in camera might have me focused on that at times.  Sometimes I might go out of view a bit, but hopefully that is on a repeated time and students know by what the choreography is – and this is in regards to Nia.  With yoga I make sure students can see head and feet and I am not moving enough to move out of frame.

-I am quieter. I used to be loud and make all kinds of sounds, while dancing, but since I am in a house where someone is working, I don’t make as much noise. I do hope my students do. I sometimes felt they didn’t make noise because they didn’t want to be the only one, but now that they are home, I am hoping they are taking advantage of the benefits sounding provides. I do make sounds, but not as loud.

-I point more. It is kinda like in Zumba where I point or make a hand signal because I am not sure they can hear me (and again I don’t want to shout all the time).  I talk less

-I “check in” differently. In-person I would ask how people are doing and encourage them to answer. That allowed me to know how they were doing and (instructor “trick”) forced people to breathe. Now I try to be very conscious of the pose/stretch because I don’t always want them moving their head or arm to give me a thumbs up. And we mute people because we are all doing this in our homes where there is other stuff going on. I have to restrict my “check-in” to in between poses/stretches.  So I am not getting to use the “trick ’em into breathing” instructor thing.

-We start standing then go to the earth. In stretch and yoga we used to start one way and then switch off. We would move up and down (or down and up) to enable us to retain that ability. But with the devices it is easier to start up and then when it is time to get down – stop and adjust the device, then get down. If I start yoga in corpse pose then I don’t instruct on any poses that I may need to see so we just leave the camera “up” and then when we get up it is set fine, then we do our standing poses then adjust and get down.

*****Update 05.26.20*****

I forgot one of the most important ones, I kind of said it when I said I point more, but that is for Nia.

-I don’t always demo the pose or DO the pose/stretch.  When I have my face on the floor or in my lap, no one can hear me.  When I am talking and my voice is too muffled for people to hear they look up to see what I am doing and they are not doing the pose.  So I don’t always do the pose/stretch.  I didn’t always put my face down when teaching in-person classes either, but online there are a few more poses/stretches I don’t do just so I can instruct.  And, honestly, sometimes I forget.  This morning while I was talking to my lap I realized I needed to be up and not folded over – AND, I realized I didn’t include this change in the post.

**********

I am very grateful to my students who have joined the Zoom classes. They have helped me keep teaching and I love that.  I hope to continue teaching online so I imagine these changes will change and adjust over time.

What have you noticed is different on your Zoom/online classes?  What changes have you seen in the way your instructor teaches?

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Another Way To Look At Zoom

Posted by terrepruitt on May 13, 2020

There are so many settings on Zoom I honestly cannot remember them all. But I love settings . . . or more accurately I love to go through and make sure I have things set the way I want them and not the way the makers of the device, platform, or application wants them. So when I get a new phone I look through everything. The issue arises when there is an update because most of the time that entails new settings. And in some cases the update changes the settings you have so time consumingly set. Most often than not there are device settings AND there are application settings so there are a lot of settings . . . but I totally digress. Sometimes when I first use a device or application I don’t know what the setting is. So I usually leave it as is. A couple of weeks ago, after I had taught a class I was wishing there was a setting that would allow me to only see the people who had their cameras on. As I was falling asleep that night I had an inkling that there might just be such a setting. And there is!

When I teach a live class I want to see the people I am teaching. Teaching live and recording a video are two different things. Both have their purposes and both are great teaching tools, but when I teach live, I want to see my students. I like to be able to teach off of what I am seeing. In yoga for instance there can be many things that one may need to be reminded of while resting in a pose, but I don’t like to go through the entire list, I would rather look at the students and guide them with the cues they need. In a live Nia class I can see if we need to/want to stay in a move longer and not move on or if they need more or different verbal cues to help them get the move. I like to interact with my students. I do miss not being able to hear them, but with so many different venues (living rooms, garages, decks, patios, bedrooms, offices, you get the picture) they get muted so everyone can hear instruction and music. Now with that being said, I know there are just as many reasons why the camera is not turned on as there are people. So I completely understand when people don’t turn on the camera.

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BUT . . . . . .when there are 25 people in a class and 5 have on their cameras and 20 don’t, it makes it difficult to see the 5. The rectangles are so small. And when teaching a class I have the camera and monitor far away so it is difficult to see. After class two weeks ago, I was wondering if there was a way to “turn off” the people that are just black rectangles. And there is! Yay. If you click the “Hide non-video participants” box the only people you will see are the ones that are transmitting a live video that way you can concentrate on the students you can see AND I could actually see them because their rectangles are large enough. YAY.  This setting is found in settings, under video and you can get to it by clicking on the ^ next to “Start video” in the left-hand corner of your user screen.

At first when I did this I was worried that if someone who is showing up in the 25th spot turned on the camera I wouldn’t be able to see them because the transmitting ones “pushed” that spot off my screen (silly me) but when I thought about it I realized it doesn’t work that way. If someone in the 25th spot turns on their camera they become one of the video participants (and so there rectangle moves from the 25th spot) and I can see them.

So . . . just another setting on Zoom that might be helpful. I realize that we are all using Zoom differently so we are all needing different settings, but the more we share the more we can really deliver quality online classes to our students.

Do you keep ALL your students on your screen? Do you like to see your students?

Posted in Online Classes, Zoom | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Improve Your Zoom Class Sound

Posted by terrepruitt on May 11, 2020

I have not been feeling very bloggy lately. Sometimes when I have an idea I don’t have the energy to write it. And when I have the energy I don’t have any ideas. I have been wanting to share something regarding online classes so I thought I had better write it up so I can have it ready for Monday. Last month I taught a Nia live stream class and I was told the sound was good. The students could hear the music and me. Now keep in mind I do not have a studio nor equipment made especially for streaming classes. I am pretty much like most of the other dance exercise instructors that decided they needed to live stream classes. For Nia I am in my living room, most often having to try to not step on a cat. I am very lucky that we do have a laptop that I can use. And since my hubby is working from home he was able to lend me his home monitor and brought his work monitor home. Also, I am borrowing the office microphone. It is not a headset microphone, but it is super cool. For music I use my Block Rocker. I don’t know what they hear, I experimented with recording it before the actual class, but that was just a test . . . I don’t know what it sounds like when I do the actual class, but for the first class they said it was ok. But in between classes I have been visiting with people on Zoom and I had adjusted my mic volume and forgot. So my second Nia class had audio issues. They couldn’t hear me. There are so many things it could have been, so I went through everything and I just wanted to share some settings with you that might help your sound quality in your classes.

I know that Zoom has a lot of videos and instructions on many things. I get e-mails from them all the time saying they are holding classes regarding how to do this and how to do that. So they probably have some information out there regarding this but maybe not because they were originally designed to be a meeting platform. With what is going on in the world we all took it over and we are using it for everything.

The first thing I had to make sure wasn’t causing sound issues was the mic cord. So we got new ones to take care of that in case that was an issue. Then I went into the Zoom settings. Every time I use Zoom it needs an update so every time I update it I check my settings because I am afraid that they will be changed with the update and that is where I discovered I had turned down my mic. I had turned it down for a Zoom visit and didn’t turn it back up for the class.

So, I think the best way to get the best sound is to turn up your mic AND . . . go into advance settings and make sure you disable “Suppress Persistent Background Noise” and “Suppress Intermittent Background Noise” I think that having them on auto confuses the system when teaching. Originally I had both of them on “auto” because I was thinking . . . I don’t want the jackhammering outside my house to be heard, but then I thought what if the system is thinking my music/voice is background noise. Because my students had said that the music cut out once or twice. So I think, it either considers my voice or the music as “background noise”. Because, remember this platform was not designed for music and voice, and especially not designed for either/both to be directed at it from three feet away.

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Turn up the mic and speakers in the “Audio” section of “Settings” – Open settings by clicking on arrow next to audio in lower left hand corner

Now I am not sure how it sounds when the music isn’t louder than the background noise and there actually is background noise (like the jackhammer). But if you disable the suppressions it might give your students a more consistent sound. The last two classes I taught with the new cord and the adjusted settings, the students had said the music didn’t cut out and they could hear me fine.

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If I were in an uncarpeted space, I would change the “Echo Cancellation” to “Aggressive” because I have taken classes that sound so “tinny”, and I would hope that the change in setting would help that. But in both spaces where I teach I have carpet.

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I also have “Enable Original Sound” OFF because Zoom’s site states if your mic HAS auto enhancing capabilities then the sound from it will be enhanced, but if it DOES NOT, then you don’t want to use it. This might actually be the key to better sound as it allows the “Audio Processing” to work.

So, I think having music and talking as one does in a live streaming dance exercise class turning the suppressing settings to “Disable” are a good bet.

So have you taken any Zoom classes? How do they sound?  What do you think?

Posted in Nia, Online Classes, Zoom | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »