Vanderhoof CPNP Mom and Baby Yoga Program
The Mom and Baby Yoga program at Carrier Sekani Family Services CPNP program in Vanderhoof started at the beginning of January and has only been running for a few weeks, but the mums and babies are both really enjoying the experience. The one-hour program is running once a week at the local Community Recreation Centre. Seven mums are registered, and so far they have had a regular attendance of 6 mums and infants at each class, which, considering the time of year and the demands of working around an infant’s timings and needs, shows the real commitment of the group.
Joelene, who is the Coordinator for the CPNP program in Vanderhoof, has completed her 200-hour yoga training, and is teaching the class herself. In their small community, they have found that the most expeditious way to expand programming is to invest in expanding training for the existing staff. As well as using community-based specialists, this provides the means to effectively diversify the program offerings for participants. Joelene commented that her host agency, Carrier Sekani Family Services, is proactive in ensuring workers in their programs can provide high quality services to meet their clients’ needs.
Maternal-infant health is one of the key elements of the CPNP program. The Mum & Baby Yoga Class offers space for mums to meet other new mums and create a community of peer support, while also reconnecting to their bodies that have experienced a lot of change. Mums learn about pelvic floor rehabilitation, relearn their center of gravity and strengthen their core while also taking time to breathe mindfully. The program is open to mums with infants from 1 month upwards, who are not yet crawling.
Each yoga mat is set up with a blanket in front for the baby. During the quiet time in class, the mums lie on their mats, breathing quietly, with their babies beside them. The babies find this calming and stilling, and lay quietly beside or on their mum’s chest.
One of the favourite poses for mums is a restorative chest opener, when they can lay their backs over a supporting bolster and really open up their shoulders and feel the muscles stretch and relax. So much time is spent with shoulders forward when carrying an infant, so this strengthens posture, allows deeper breathing, and feels great.
Attachment is encouraged through poses such as the Boat Pose, where mums do the pose with their baby on their lap, and in Downward Dog, where the mums are able to visually connect with their babies while they are in the pose, and talk to their babies whilst they are holding the pose.
The mums and babies have a lot of fun together during the class, and mums are free to respond to their baby’s needs in the moment as the class progresses, stopping to hold their baby, or breastfeed, as necessary. Joelene stresses to the mums, “This class is for you and your baby – you have permission to do whatever you and your baby need.”
The two youngest babies in the class at the moment are only 7 weeks old, and the mother of one of them had a Caesarean delivery. The class is able to support this mother through modification of poses (e.g. no lunge poses), encouraging her to listen to her body and re-connect with her body. Joelene offers suggestions to help the recovering mum find her level of personal comfort. Doctor’s permission is required to participate in the yoga class after a Caesarean section.
Vanderhoof Early Childhood Development Committee, who operate under Success by Six and Children First, provided funding for yoga mats and blankets to get the program started.
The yoga class is one of several programs offered through the Vanderhoof CPNP, some drop-in and some sign-up. Word is spreading quickly about the benefits of the yoga class, and Joelene already has a wait list for the next series.