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Yoga Angst

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Jennifer Ginsberg: The other day as I arrived at my yoga class, a few of the women also waiting to take the class were having a heated discussion. I settled into child's pose so I could inconspicuously eavesdrop on their conversation. They were outraged over a new policy at the yoga studio -- No Cell Phones On During Class. I was stunned that this issue was prevalent enough to warrant an actual policy. How is it possible to use your cell phone in downward facing dog pose?

woman chatting in a yoga class

"I need to have my phone on at all times" one woman declared, "If they call me from Kyle's school, I have to answer."

"I totally agree." her friend replied "This is bullsh*t! My phone needs to be on in case Maddie needs me."

I have been going to yoga classes for my children's entire lives and never once have I considered bringing in my cell phone. What if my kids have been needing me all this time but I couldn't be reached? I imagined Shane sitting on a therapist's couch as an adult and processing his feelings of abandonment over the fact that I left him with a babysitter so I could salute the sun.

I began to obsess on all the possible scenarios that would require my immediate attention- illness, injury, a natural disaster, or a terrorist attack. What kind of narcissistic, piece of shit mother am I to relinquish my responsibilities so thoughtlessly in an effort to perfect my Warrior 1 Pose?

Wait a minute ... how did our parents do it without cell phones, Internet, or email? When I was a child my parents could not be contacted electronically, yet they were considerably more reachable than most of my friends, with all of their technological devices, are today. Is it possible that being physically and emotionally available involves more than having an unlimited calling plan with free nights and weekends?

Is this illusive idea of accessibility a realistic life lesson for our children? Is the fact that our kids can immediately call or text us with their most minor complaints teaching them how to effectively deal with life's natural stressors? Since they are so used to being able to instantly reach us, how are they supposed to develop the ability to think for themselves and effectively problem solve?

When do our kids have the opportunity to cultivate the quality of patience? Is the immediate gratification of cell phone contact preparing them for that inevitable moment when they will actually have to wait for something that they want?

In the event of an actual emergency, how would contacting me via cell phone really help the situation, anyway? If I don't trust the person that I leave my children with to respond to an urgent situation appropriately, than why am I allowing her to watch my kids in the first place?

But ... what if I am being a selfish beast for not keeping my cell phone on my person at all times, turned up to the loudest and most obnoxious ring-tone, ready to respond to any crisis?

Oh, f*&# it. I am turning off my phone and leaving it in my car when I go to yoga. One of the most unrelenting facts of motherhood is that you must always be available for your children, day and night, including weekends and holidays. I need a psychological break, and the idea that I can't be reached by anyone for an hour and a half is an incredibly appealing concept, selfish or not.

I also need to have time to center myself so I can focus on the important things... like how I am going to get my yoga teacher's gorgeous abs and her amazing, Madonna-biceps. Namaste'!

next: Help! My Daughter is a Pink Junkie
31 comments so far | Post a comment now
celina April 20, 2009, 1:07 PM

Hysterical. Hilarious. Laugh Out Loud. Wet Your Pants Funny. That’s all I could think about as I was reading this article…

The other day I was in Yoga and the phone went off…I was furious. It’s great to know that I’m not the only one that’s ever encountered (and been frustrated) by a situation like this.


Jordan Catapano April 20, 2009, 2:58 PM

Jenn- you are saying what we all are thinking! Once I walked to my yoga class with my husband’s car keys. He called the studio, and they came in quietly to tell me there was an emergency and I needed to take a phone call. Imagine that.
Keep these great stories coming Ms. Angst Mom! You’re hilarious!

Kari April 20, 2009, 8:31 PM

Anyone who brings a cell phone to a yoga class - and is expecting a call - is inconsiderate and not only should be asked to leave the class…but have their membership immediately revoked and terminated. Heck, maybe the phone should be confiscated and given to charity. I understand that emergency’s happen, but we can’t live our lives expecting an emergency. We all need a break from our kids and we all need some down time. Yoga is supposed to be relaxing and stress free. There is NO PLACE for a cell phone in yoga. I wish more people thought like this. This article should be posted on the wall of every yoga studio in America!

Tabitha April 20, 2009, 8:42 PM


Katharine April 20, 2009, 8:50 PM

I love it! I can’t believe that this is an issue for so many people. Why is everything in life now a dire emergency that requires our immediate response? I think MORE places should institute a “no cell phones” policy! Your kids are learning the right lessons - they will be so much more self-reliant and mellow than all those kids that panic the minute they realize that they can’t talk to their mommy right NOW!

Heather April 20, 2009, 9:10 PM

LOVE IT! Not to be contrary, but once I was publicly scolded by an “enlightened” yoga instructor for making too much noise as I came in and set a paper bag down on the floor. He very snottily told me, “Could you puhleeeze get settled QUIETLY.” I erupted” “OBVIOUSLY that’s what I’m TRYING TO DO, MR. ENLIGHTENED!” and it was this whole big spectacle. Crazy, i know, but we gotta remember nothing is perfect, not silence, not calm, not other people, and at a certain point we gotta find it within, y’know? Great post, angstmom!

Heather B April 20, 2009, 9:21 PM

I am a cellphone addict, I check it all the time for texts, missed calls, emergencies, etc. yet I would never even dream of having it with me in a yoga class! I spent 4 hours on Saturday at a spa and I never checked it once! That is progress for me!

AM  April 20, 2009, 9:39 PM

I was in a group interview today and I was shocked that another interviewee’s phone rang during the interview.

MiLisa April 20, 2009, 11:30 PM

I agree Jen. However, I’m not a mommy yet. SO, that may change when I become one, but, I say , ” Go ahead and center yourself ! “

Theann April 21, 2009, 12:50 AM

IT’s so “LA” to have your mobile in a yoga class. Absolutely absurd!

Chrissy April 21, 2009, 10:02 PM

Kari - you said it.
And it’s not jsut LA - heard stories from friends in IL, PA, NY & MA.
Just last week while on a cardio machine at my gym, 9 minutes into my 30 min workout some chicky-babe gets on a machine while on her cell phone. Now I’m thinking she’ll hang up when she starts her cardio. Wrong! 21 minutes later, and upping the volume on my earphones twice she was still chatting away and looking at herself in the window (it was nighttime so her was watching her reflection). And ignoring all the dirty looks she was getting.
Why should I risk my hearing by up my volume just to drown out her senseless chatter? And it was unimportant stuff.
I asked a staff member when I was done how I should handle the situtatiion and was told that I really shouldn’t say anything to the offender. Argh!

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