The fun side of Baby Yoga was evident from the early days. Then, naively, I thought teaching Baby Yoga would be a doddle. Over time I have grown to relish the challenge of drawing on Yoga to support parents whose lives have been turned upside down by taking on the responsibility of a tiny human. Joy and humour evolve from the tales of raw truth shared by the mothers about their bodies, their emotions, their lives. Soon a camaraderie develops that forges the roots of community. When Katie, who featured in the film, wrote, ‘I couldn’t have gotten through labour or motherhood without you,’ I was transported back to the time when I first met Francoise. I went from not having a maternal bone in my body to giving birth to three children in the space of three years, a path I surely would not have taken without the inspiration of Francoise and her creation of Birthlight.
It was the mothers themselves who gently taught me how to deliver an effective session. I am still climbing that learning curve, maybe less steep nowadays. The families who were committed to the novel practice of Baby Yoga of the 1990’s in London’s Yoga Therapy Centre, witnessed their babies develop optimally in a supportive, relaxing, and enjoyable environment – then the time came to incorporate Baby Yoga for the older babies. I remember when Francoise and I patiently filled a paddling pool for the mobile babies to enjoy a sensory experience, but we did not prepare in advance for how challenging it was to empty umpteen gallons of water from a newly carpeted room on the 6th floor we occupied at The Homeopathic Hospital.
When Francoise dispatched me to deliver training to the Kids UK nursery at Amnesty International in Camden in the late 90’s, I was paddling frantically underneath my swan-like yogic exterior. Before engaging with Birthlight I lacked the confidence to tutor, but that dive into the deep end enabled me to become Birthlight’s first Baby Yoga trainer. My motivation still lies in my passionate knowledge that Baby Yoga makes a positive difference, delivering long-term benefits to new families. My early work as a Yoga Therapist has been a blessing for the holistic nature of support for my families. There is always a yogic way to nurture the mothers postnatally and enhance the mutual connection with baby. Patanjali’s Eight Limbs provide the underlying principles of this support and development. ‘Yoga is a balance’ (1), and life with a baby cannot but benefit from the injection of pockets of harmony, movement and connection into everyday life.
My eldest daughter, Aimee, featured in Francoise’s iconic first Baby Yoga book, and for a bit of fun we have attempted to recreate some of those original photos here. Soon after that publication I gave birth to twins, and as a single mum, we relocated back ‘up north’ so my mother could support our family life where she thrived as a grandmother. It was here in an area recognised for its deprivation that Children’s Centres began their first wave, and the manager invited me to introduce Baby Yoga to the local families. Yoga was quite a foreign prospect to the mothers, so when I spoke of ‘relaxation’ they took it as an invitation to enjoy a cigarette break. That is until they experienced the physical, emotional and mental balm of Yoga Nidra with baby bonding. We went on to publish ‘Yoga Birth in Words’, a collection of birth stories
Yoga was quite a foreign prospect to the mothers, so when I spoke of ‘relaxation’ they took it as an invitation to enjoy a cigarette break. That is until they experienced the physical, emotional and mental balm of Yoga Nidra with baby bonding
In those days the Children’s Centre included the services of a community midwife. She very shrewdly invited the teenage mums-to-be to McDonald’s before bringing them to my pregnancy yoga classes. They continued on to enjoy Baby Yoga and then on to encourage other young mums, one of them publishing a popular handbook for local distribution. Another group felt safe enough to share that they were suffering depression postnatally, and they went on to create a much-needed local support group. The local NHS Trust partnered with the Centre, and I enjoyed a monthly gig demonstrating Baby Yoga for a hall full of health professionals and new parents. I teamed with the Health Visitor, and the combination of Infant Massage and Baby Yoga became a constructive model of outreach support.
Nurturing the connection between mother/parent and baby with postnatal moves, infant massage and baby yoga techniques has been a process which has developed organically, a process which culminated in the creation of the Birthlight Integrated Nurturing Baby Massage and Baby Yoga blended training course.
Lasting bonds remain from the early days delivering Baby Yoga at the Yoga Biomedical Trust in Great Ormond Street. Over the years many of the mothers and their families have become loving supporters of Birthlight. Many claim that then, and now, Baby Yoga is the best class they attended with their baby. Coincidentally the Liverpool Baby Yoga film for Birthlight’s Baby Yoga Festival 2023 was filmed and edited by a former Children’s Centre Baby Yoga mother whose son is now a grown adult. Rebecca admitted that her dedication to this project was because of experiencing first-hand the benefits Birthlight Baby Yoga offers for holistic health and mental well-being.
— Written by Marion O’Connor (Birthlight Tutor)
Birthlight Baby Yoga
Starts 10th June 2023
Integrated Baby Massage & Baby Yoga 1
Starts 7th July 2023
- Prabhupada, A. (2015) Bhagavad-Gītā as it is: With the original Sanskrit text, roman transliteration, English equivalents, translation, and elaborate purports. Juhu, Mumbai, India: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.