the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

My Mother’s Bad Yoga Instructor

Danny from “Jew Eat Yet” asked me a question, and since it was a lengthy one, I will paraphrase it for you, “What the hell are YOU, a full-blooded American male, going to a blogging conference for WOMEN?”

The answer is simple. I don’t think in terms of gender. We are all individuals with passions that are unrelated to our chromosomes. This does not mean there aren’t difference between the sexes. Anyone man who has ever spent a weekend with a weepy, irrational, hysterical, overemotional woman who needs more “hug time” knows exactly what I am talking about. Also, as a believer in the literal truth of the Bible, man is always first. We were on Earth first, so it is natural that we should be the dominant sex.

As ordained by religion and the natural order, women must follow two ironclad rules in their relationships with men —

1) Women must always have an orgasm, or at least fake it well enough for the man to feel he did a job well done, so he can go to sleep feeling like he is “the Man,” and brag to his friends at work the next day.

2) Women must ALWAYS take care of men when they get sick, and expect nothing in return. Men can build skyscrapers and blow up cities, but they are not trained to care for themselves when the dreaded cold-bug hits.

It has been a sad week in Queens. For the last two days, I – a man – have been home alone with a cold, and it should shame women worldwide. My previous two caretakers, Sophia and my mother, were both unavailable, enjoying the sun in Redondo Beach, CA and Boca Raton, FL.

“I’m sick, Sophia,” I said on the phone.

“Sorry, Neilochka. I got a Russian Dialect coaching job with “Heroes” and have to make it to the studio. Bye-Bye!”

I tried my mother.

“Mom, I’m sick.”

“Make yourself some soup.”

“What do you mean — “make” the soup?”

“I can’t talk now. I’m playing mah jongg, and then I have my yoga class, and then there is a show at the center with ABBA imitators! Take care of yourself. Bye!”

Clearly, these two should have their “women licences” revoked. But I will have the last laugh, because God is a MAN, and he works in mysterious ways.

Anyway, since I am trying to promote myself as an EXPERT storyteller, I figure I should tell you some sort of story, so I don’t undermine my own brand name.

Here is a story that my mother told me about her weekly yoga class that takes place at the clubhouse in her retirement village. Please note — this is my mother’s story, not mine, so don’t judge the quality of the tale by your usual high standards.

My mother’s yoga class meets in the clubhouse. There are about 25 women, from ages sixty to eighty. The instructor is a young yoga instructor in her twenties who has a regular gig at a studio. Although she has modified her sessions to be more appropriate for seniors, she doesn’t seem to be very comfortable with older people. In fact, she makes the common mistake of treating seniors like they are children in grade school.

Some of the women have cellphones, such as my mother, and the instructor makes everyone put their phones on a table in the front of the room, turned off, so the ringing doesn’t ruin the meditative mood of yoga. The instructor considers the atmosphere of the room so essential that she has told the class that if a student’s phone rings, “she will have to leave and not return to the class for the rest of the year.”

“That’s pretty harsh,” I told my mother.

“She’s very serious about her yoga,” answered my mother. “She knows a lot.”

I have no idea how my mother can judge this instructor as “knowing a lot” since my mother has no experience with yoga at all, but I didn’t say anything, and let my mother continue with her story.

Last week, while the class was doing some relaxing yoga position, and gentle music was playing, one of the phones on the table started to ring and vibrate. The tall, skinny yoga instructor jumped up, her bones shaking with anger.

“Who’s phone is that ringing?” she asked, pointing a long finger at a flip Nokia sitting on the table.

No one answered. The women in the class, sitting in the dimly-lighted room, looked side to side, waiting for the culprit to come forward, but no one volunteered. Was the owner of the ringing phone afraid of being booted from class? Were the others covering her ass? Would the seniors stand in solidarity, announcing that the phone belonged to “them all” and that they would not be intimidated by this jerk?

If this was a cartoon, steam would be rising from the yoga instructor’s head (which is not a very good sign about yoga’s effectiveness in making you a calmer person).

“Do none of you have the dignity to step forward and tell the truth? Surely ONE of you must know who OWNS that phone?”

The instructor flipped on all the lights to glare into each woman’s eyes, searching for the truth like Jack Bauer involved in an interrogation.

“If none of you have the moral fiber to come forward and be a real person – I am cancelling today’s class. All of you. Leave. Class is cancelled today!”

The women started to leave. An Orthodox Jewish woman, the oldest in the class, picked up the flip Nokia. Everyone turned to her. The instructor shoved her face within inches of the culprit.

“What is wrong with you? Why didn’t you admit that this was your phone ringing?”

“Huh? I can’t hear very well…” she answered.

Her phone started ringing again.

“My son just gave it to my this weekend. I don’t even know how to turn it off!”

My mother, who just figured out to turn off her own phone, showed the woman how to press the button to turn the phone off, and then the rest of the class left yoga for the day.


  1. mommyknows

    Fire that yoga instructor!

    My cousin, was running a recreation program at a seniors home. She was telling the family about the activities she had planned for them. Some of them were the same activities my child’s preschool had planned for the next week.

    I asked (sincerely), if they minded being treated like little kids. My cousin cried. *sigh*

    Note to the world: If I am lucky enough to live past 80, PLEASE DO NOT, assume I want to play games and do crafts.

  2. tmc

    I feel much more comfortable in our relationship now that you’ve put me in my natural 2nd place.

  3. better safe than sorry

    instructions on how to “make” soup
    use your electric can opener to open a can of chicken soup and heat it in the microwave, don’t worry if you overheat it and it makes a mess and explodes, you can always take a picture of it, post it and remind your mother just how well you are coping by yourself.

  4. TRO

    “What the hell are YOU, a full-blooded American male, going to a blogging conference for WOMEN?”

    If he had to ask this I am pretty sure he isn’t a full-blooded American male. Ahem, women. Tons of them. Some lonely mommy bloggers. This is not rocket science.

  5. teahouseblossom

    What a mean yoga instructress!

  6. Otir

    For the sake of it, let me correct the first assumption I found in your post (and then I will feel more free to go on with my reading that got interrupted by that need):

    You were not created first in the bible, since Adam was made male and female at the same time. It’s just that male and female were not facing each other in that bizarre configuration, so Adam felt lonely. Then a part of Adam was separated so that there was someone to the side of Adam who name that one meaning he realized it was necessary to have someone tell him how to get rid of his cold.

  7. Mocha

    Gosh. You are gonna get the shit kicked out of you by all the women at BlogHer. No matter. You won’t know they’re women since you don’t see gender.

  8. 180/360

    I think these should’ve been two separate posts. 🙂

  9. 3boys1mommy

    Yogi is a jerk no doubt, but don’t you think Old abuse the whole “I can’t hear, I can’t see, I can’t downward dog” act?

  10. Kerry

    I just assumed you were going to BlogHer to get laid…although this post might not be helpful in that regard.

    Maybe you will meet a nice yoga instructor there.

  11. Noel

    I thought they were going to answer the “Whose phone is this?” question: “I am Sparticus.”

  12. wench

    Oh baby I love you! Take your cahones in both hands and run for the hills brother. As soon as you started the “natural order of things …” even I went – WTF … oooh wait – he’s trying to be funny or self deprecating or perhaps pass a message to his idiot friend who can’t see the value of a single man surrounded by hundreds of women – who already love him – for his HUMOUR and SASS.


    Tell the cheese headed Yoga instructor to practice the downward geriatric asskissing stance for a regular paycheck.

  13. churlita

    That’s so funny. We might believe it more if you hadn’t introduced us to your wife. I bet Sophia is laughing her ass off and then handing you yours.

  14. kimberlee

    1. I’m with Danny, blogher sucks.
    2. There is no god.
    3. From reading you, it appears you are a grown man. take care of yourself. just like all us chicks do.
    4. FAKE IT? you’ve GOT to be joking.
    5. Lemme guess. The yoga instructor probably got her period, right?!

    and furthermore … *snap*


  15. Danny

    Even if it’s tongue-in-cheek, I love being cast in this post as an intolerant slightly misogynistic blogger. While you know how in touch I am with my “female side,” as are you, I do keep asking myself why the thought of BlogHer turns my stomach. Or, shall I say more accurately, the thought of attending something like BlogHer. I don’t think I could stand being a man at an event like that and have everyone wonder what I’m doing there. But on the other hand, I’m married with two more kids on the way and NOT looking to get laid by mommybloggers! Not that I think that’s your motivation either…I think you just like the company of women and, like me, are very interested in what they’re talking about. So again, why does BlogHer turn me off so?

  16. Neil

    Danny — You do have a point. I wonder if it would be smarter for me to go to my first blogging conference in SWSX, which is the big one in Austin, which is not gender-based, or one of the other social media conferences. But they are also less blog oriented, than internet/business media – related. There just aren’t enough of us male personal bloggers that want to get together and schmooze — so we have to do it on the woman’s turf, just like women who are into football have to deal with all the stupid male-oriented commercials during the Super Bowl. Maybe this will give me a taste of what women feel like in a male-dominated business world, as the women at the conference talk down to me and ogle me as eye candy rather than treat me like an equal.

  17. Jane

    BlogHer is also a huge turn-off for me, for many reasons, not the least of which it does the bare minimum to fulfill its mission statement. Rather than promoting the voices of women writers from across the spectrum, the BlogHer site acts as a platform for its editors. The works of others are shoved in a dusty backroom where they are largely ignored. However, because it’s a female-oriented site with thousands of subscribers, it gets what it’s really after, which are corporate sponsorships.

    I find BlogHer to be one of the worst examples of commercialism masking as a social good. WTF is the relevance of Cosmo-type posts such as

    7 great movie love scenes
    Weirdest breakup lines
    Make heart-shaped treats

    When it’s not trying to be Cosmo, it’s being the Good Housekeeping of the blogging world, throwing in a few meaningful articles in with the how-to’s and recipes.

    I fucking hate BlogHer. Can you tell?

  18. leah

    it doesn’t sound like the yoga lady is very happy. maybe she should take someone else’s yoga class to calm her self down.

  19. kimberlee

    yay Jane!

  20. Jane

    High Five, Kimberlee. 🙂

  21. Laura

    I always enjoy your posts even when they make me want to pinch you.

    The yoga story is one of my favorites…I’ll have to pass it along.

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