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Yoga and Homemaking: The New Future of Women?

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Yes, I've seen an increase in the women who take yoga classes in the past year. No, I don't think this means that women are moving their journey inward to find peace of mind.

A friend of mine gave me a copy of the article in the Jan. 9 issue of The New York Times Magazine, "Fear (Again) of Flying" by Judith Warner. It highlights women who are rejecting the notion that "personal liberation is to be found in taking an active role in the public world." Instead, the post-boomer, post-feminist woman is looking for her "own quiet center" in homemaking and yoga.

Yes, there are points made in the article that the yoga denizens are mostly highly educated, generally affluent women, and that some of the female midlife rebels have also been struggling to find good work during the recession. The overall message hinted that this is the wave of the future for women. I don't agree.

I am sure that there are women who throw in the towel due to their continual frustration with the lack of equal pay, equal chances for upward development and mentoring, and equal consideration for the most interesting challenges at work. Yet I wonder how many of these women are just taking a break to renew their passion? It won't be long before they yearn again for the experience of living life.

In my research with women and my experiences in 16 years of coaching them, I have found that women of all ages are demanding more from their work and their lives, not less. In fact, the search for meaning takes them on many adventures, few of them inward. Possibly they should stop and take the time to contemplate more. The smart, strong women I encounter have little patience for this.

The women I know are fueled by their desire for "motion and meaning" in their work. They love having frequent, new challenges to conquer -- ones that make them feel significant or give them a sound sense of purpose. They learn from their gains and losses. They are restless to find that "something more" that will help them define their existence.

When they slip into disappointment, face the intimations of failure, or refuse to get up because they are sick from exhaustion, a friend calls to remind them of their value, an e-mail shows up thanking them for the impact they made, and the sunset reminds them there is beauty in the moment of this life they are fully living.

My friend, Eileen McDargh, an amazing speaker wrote a brilliant New Year's post. She says she has discovered, "how very dependent we are upon an external world to help us see meaning and discover the deeper purpose behind the seemingly meaningless. It is impossible to truly be a 'woman or man of independent means.'"

Yes, McDargh is a boomer. In my travels around the world to promote my book "Wander Woman," I have found women of all ages across the continents who are enjoying their emerging freedoms to live an active, meaningful life.

McDargh went on to say:

I do not wish to go quietly into the next decade. I'll admit to needing bifocals and estrogen but I have no intention of aging. I'll trade exercise for cheesecake and Chardonnay. I'll forgo naps for too-late parties and choose time with my sweet spouse over a bursting bank account. I'll arrange to throw my old self away, to molt the dry skin of complacency so I can discover what is new to be learned and experienced.

There is nothing wrong with those of us who take on too much work for the love of it. We get bored if our plate isn't full of new and exciting challenges. We don't sacrifice our family but we don't sacrifice our full experience of life either. We aren't crazy if we turn down a high-paying job for one that feels more significant. We are seeking the meaning of life by living it.

We are women finding our way down this confusing, bumpy road of life. We have no intention of giving up the steering wheel. Watch out as the younger generations of women ardently take up more of the road.

Do I take yoga classes? Yes, when my body is travel weary and needs a good stretch. Then I am back at my work that is the experience and expression of who I am.

Don't paint us in any corner. We aren't going back.

Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D., author of "Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction" and "Outsmart Your Brain," speaks globally on leadership topics and coaches smart, strong women as they navigate their amazing lives.

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