The poster for Mommy and Child yoga at the front desk at Lund’s Glen Road Residential Treatment facility for substance abuse and mental health issues, features a very calm looking frog sitting crossed legged with his webbed feet together in the Namaste position. Yoga class happens once a week in the playlab and all moms living at the program and their children are invited to attend. It is a great opportunity for exercise, parent child bonding and a calm (as much as you can get with young children in the class!) time for reflection.
“Yoga has been used to treat trauma for many years,” says Case Management Coordinator Amy Woodruff speaking to the many benefits of yoga to everybody and specifically to moms suffering from the effects of previous trauma. It engages the body and mind in a way that provides the opportunity to calm the limbic system and allows for the cortex to be engaged. Physically yoga tones muscle and provides repetition that calms the body and promotes flexibility that strengthens the body’s core. The breathing and mindfulness practiced during yoga is also a skill that is beneficial to our moms.”
Many of the children in the class are too little or too distracted to actually do much yoga themselves but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t getting anything from the class. “In addition to the moms gaining the benefits of yoga themselves,” says Amy, “they are provided an opportunity to engage in a healthy activity that they can do with their children. Doing yoga together allows them to teach their children the same skills they are learning in tandem while strengthening the attachment between moms and children.”
Yoga at Lund is taught by Tania O’Neil who had worked at Lund some years ago as a Database Coordinator and so was excited to come back, albeit in a very different capacity, when she found out about the opportunity to teach yoga at Lund. Tania works with Sangha Yoga Studio–the only non-profit, community-based yoga studio in Vermont- which provides very deeply discounted classes to Lund to ensure that yoga really can be accessed by everyone.
Tania feels that Lund is the perfect place to teach a yoga class. “Practicing on the mat allows time to focus inward and step out of all the “stuff” of everyday living,” she says. “I think the women of Lund need this time to just let go. Yoga is the union of body, mind, spirit, community, and so much more. The practice of yoga leads not only to stronger, more flexible and balanced bodies, but to confidence, self-acceptance and knowledge, tolerance of others, and gratitude.”
Despite the babies crawling around the floor and the toddlers preferring the toys over the class, the playlab is a small cocoon of calm inside the very busy early evening hours at Lund. The moms and kids, and Tania too, emerge from the class refreshed and reconnected, ready to take on dinner time, bathing, bedtime routines and their day to day business and responsibilities, grateful for the 45 minute pause they have all been able to take.