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Yin Yang and Yoga

Can a Rorschach test and Yoga improve parenting?

YEARS AGO, I had the opportunity to take the Rorschach inkblot test as part of my company’s management-assessment program. The famed exam is administered by showing a series of cards with randomized inkblots to the test taker and the subject is asked to interpret them. There is no right or wrong answer, but it can be very revealing about personality characteristics and emotional state.

I recall looking over each card with the company proctor and taking my time in providing very vanilla answers. However, I had an immediate visceral reaction to one card in particular and I remember it to this day. In my mind the blot clearly illustrated “two girls with pony tails on a seesaw.” The administrator and I both laughed knowingly after my response.

The word seesaw is derived from the French ci-ca, meaning literally, this-that. I certainly did not need a trained psychologist to tell me why I had interpreted a random drawing so surely and distinctly. At that point in my life, I was a young mother already struggling with how to maneuver through the world of child-care, quality family time, work effort and guilt.

This, that. Push, pull.

I was at the front end of a social phenomenon that remains unabated: work-life balance. Thus it was no surprise that the two girls on the seesaw was a metaphor describing the constant re-balancing challenge I was facing at that time and, like most moms, has continued.

Is it any wonder that so many women seek inner peace through yoga? A 2008 study by Yoga Journal cited that the number of people trying to achieve Zen was nearly 16 million. Most of the devotees are female, searching for a little health, harmony and Pratyahara in their lives.

While I like the general idea of yoga and Lululemon clothing, I found that yoga was not my thing. I attended one hot yoga class and after reaching for a sip of water mid-way through the 90 minute session, the teacher scolded me, “Vinyasa says to withhold earthly pleasure!” I did not return.

For those of us who find dehydration and Gumby poses intimidating, there is the kinder, gentler Asian philosophy of Yin Yang. The Taoist philosophy holds that opposites with polar forces are interdependent and connected and are in a constant state of change and that everything is relative. You can meditate, observe nature or pursue poetry and music. It also encourages self acceptance and being present in the moment. Seems doable to me, I feel my inner-smile already.

I can’t say that any of the sensations of juggling have yielded over the years. While inner-peace may have eluded me, I have learned to accept that motherhood does present itself with a necessary tug. We manage the variables in our control and learn to just let go of the rest for our own sanity.

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Carol Lewis Gullstad and her friend and colleague  and I take turns updating our Permission Slips blog each week.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Anna Starikov March 22, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I enjoyed reading your post Carol. However, I was saddened by your experience with yoga. As a Yoga Teacher in Kirkland, I just want you to know that the experience you had in a Hot Yoga class is not a typically yoga experience. There are many different traditions of yoga and every teacher's approach is different as well. Most yoga teachers encourage their students to focus inward and find their own path; to listen to their bodies and open their hearts. I'm glad that you found another path that works for you, but I hope that one bad experience with one style of yoga and one teacher won't deter you from exploring a different style of yoga in the future. My program, Blossoming Yogis, focuses on bridging the gap by allowing you to practice yoga with your kids. Being a busy mom myself, practicing yoga with my kids is the only way I am able to get a yoga practice in on some days, finding the balance between taking care of their needs while taking care of my own. There are many benefits to practicing yoga both for yourself and for your kids - you just need to find the right practice for you.
Carol Lewis Gullstad April 09, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Anna, thanks for your comments. I have been thinking lately of giving it another try. This may be just the nudge I needed.

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