A tribute to retiring birthlight tutor Liz Doherty
It was not easy to arrive at Riddlesworth Hall, the Suffolk school where we held the first Birthlight trainings, by public transport. Liz opened the door and I caught her perplexed look of a health professional wondering what she had let herself in for, travelling from Belfast to this place in the middle of nowhere to find out about Baby Yoga. Our colourful circle was definitely one or more steps removed from the hospitals or official training venues she was used to. But Liz followed her passion for babies ’wellbeing. As a baby massage expert and former midwife, she was open to new skills directly applicable in the community. Touched by the way we work ‘from the heart’, Liz made up her mind to stay with us lot and give Birthlight a chance. And then she came back, and back again, training in more Birthlight areas of teaching, dry and wet, and rapidly showing her potential to act as a training tutor. Everyone warmed to Liz’s unique combination of directness and tact, authority and caring attitude, pouring love on wee little ones while empowering new mums, very quick to the mark but also attentive to detail as a team member.
And then it was my turn to wonder where I had landed in the first Sure Start course in Yoga for Maternity that Liz hosted for me in Strabane, right in the middle of Northern Ireland. I could barely grasp what people were saying while thinking on my feet how I could adapt yoga for those health professionals who could not sit on the floor. Retrospectively, I am so grateful to Liz for this opportunity to develop the pragmatic styles of teaching that have become acclaimed in many countries outside the UK. Our chair yoga still takes the biscuit on recent popular versions. Liz de-stressed trainings with nice fish meals in places that opened my eyes to the beauty of Northern Ireland. Liz shares what she loves generously and walks with her dogs Lizzy and Cagney along her stunning home Bangor bay are forever in my memory.
When opportunities arose for Liz to teach in Taiwan and China, she took them in her stride. Inevitably, challenges were encountered but Liz held strong and as she often put it, ‘everything was OK’. Her experience of working in A&E in Belfast during ‘the troubles’ made her ready to face any eventuality. ‘It’ll pass’, she often told me to soothe my woes. It is in Russia that Liz has found the most special appreciation of her multiple talents as training tutor in baby massage and nurture, baby yoga and toddler yoga. Her contagious warmth and vivacity combined with her professionalism gained spirits and hearts of new parents brought up in Soviet times but now looking for other ways of caring for their babies. Liz is very loved in the Moscow Birthlight centre and many will miss seeing her regularly.
Enjoying grand-motherhood, life closer to two cherished daughters and perhaps more cruises with husband John are well-earned ways of relaxing after a long and full working life of service to pregnant couples and new parents first in hospital and then in the community. A huge thank you, dear Liz, for all the different ways in which you have contributed to and enriched Birthlight as a collective. Besides all your trainings and classes, the evidence-based, easy and sound Baby Massage routine that you have contributed to the Baby Nurture course on the basis of decades of experience is an important legacy that other tutors can take forward in your name. Communication through touch and voice, the message that wee babes cannot be ‘spoilt’ and that every mother is ‘good enough’ have taken across the research as real doing, embodied practice, to parents directly and to many more indirectly through your trainings over the years. Experience beats leaflets and blogs. Thank you Liz for simply showing the way and always caring, something we cannot replace but will take forward in Birthlight with any involvement that your retirement allows in the future.
Liz shared her thoughts on her time with Birthlight - 'My tribute to 'a decade (plus)' of Birthlight'
Anna, Birthlight Swimming Instructor since 2008, Birthlight Baby Yoga Instructor since 2011, Birthlight training organizer, mum of 3 water and yoga children )))
"For me Liz was the first teacher who helped me to understand the idea of spiral of joy through connection with my baby. In 2011 when I met her, I was at her training in Moscow with my second boy (a toddler at that time), I felt that I missed a lot and I needed to experience these feelings once again. And 3 year later I managed to try massage and baby yoga with my 3rd son. And every moment I connected and communicated with my baby and my toddler and kid (3 boys) I was thinking of Liz. Her words, her singing, her emotions were in my mind all the time and they helped me a lot in my usual life. Every time I attended her trainings (twice a year since 2011 as an organizer) I was getting new and new ideas for myself as mum, I enjoyed watching mums and students how they were changing during the training as an organizer… Liz successfully and very professionally managed to explain the principles of yoga at the level of mother and a baby. From her narrating all was ingeniously simple – Movement (asanas), Breathing (pranayamas) , Relaxation (for me this part was the most difficult to understand, as well as for many students as well) . I opened a second breathing inside me, and was willing to share that information with mothers, helping them to understand what they are one unity with their babies. We are thankful to Liz, for those tips and teaching points for future teachers of baby yoga, she taught us to treat even the demonstration dolls so gently and carefully , as real babies. In March 2016 she will conduct her last training in Moscow. And already now I personally feel that we'll miss her so much in our centre.
As well Liz became a close friend of our family. I remember walking with her, taking her to the theatre, boating on a water tram, making pictures of Moscow sights together, sitting in the café, talking about life. Her visits on our trainings were special – especially celebration of Irish holiday St Patrick's day in Moscow every March.
So many graduates are thankful to her for the knowledge, for the inner world she shared with us, as well as mums who attended her classes here, and my family personally. The part of Liz is always in our hearts. Wish her new life be more quite, calm but also full of happy moments. She deserves this happy life as part of her own spiral of joy )))"
Tatiana Melnichuk, Birthlight instructor, Well Woman Yoga, Perinatal Yoga, Postnatal Yoga, Baby Yoga, Nurturing Baby Massage & Aquanatal Yoga
"I am immensely grateful to Liz for the practices that she gives us. Baby Yoga and Baby Massage work as little magic. Women and children to whom I’ve shown these practices changed before my eyes. Babies easily learn new skills, develop actively - you can see how they are filled with confidence and courage, because they do yoga together with their parents, through high-quality communication development is faster and easier to learn new skills. For me and my daughter Baby Massage has become a godsend - from the early days it helped to establish contact and get to know each other. My daughter loves the touch! And the massage helped her to escape the tone in her supine and we did not need to go to doctor. Liz, whatever you do, is filled with inspiration and a great love for children and their parents! Thank you!"
Siobhan Conlon, Birthlight Nurturing Baby Massage Teacher
“I did the Baby massage training with Liz. What struck me most about Liz was her passion for baby massage, yoga and her in-depth knowledge of these plus her background in nursing. Her passion was contagious.
I wish her well in her retirement, health and contentment.”
A farewell to Taipei
A small snap shot of the wonderful feedback Liz has received from her birthlight courses..
“Thank you very much for the training I feel more confident, full of knowledge, feelings and want to start my own classes with babies and parents. I am looking forward for the second part of Baby Yoga training and can’t wait to see you again!”
“The course answered all questions and expectations. Thanks to all tutors (Liz/Stats) and participants of the training!”
“Every aspect of the course was so interesting. I have learnt so much information and the practical was so beneficial”
“Liz is an inspirational teacher”
“I enjoyed the course and got more from it than I was expecting. I found it informative, stimulating and encouraging.”
“Dear Liz, I thoroughly enjoy this training + cannot wait to get started with classes (next month, I’ve been told) I just hope someday my classes can flow like yours!! Enjoy your retirement, you’ve earned it! Enjoy granny hood! Thank you!”
“I have really enjoyed the course I loved the mix of practical and theory. Liz experience and teaching skills were second to none. Thank you Liz!”