15th December 2004 – the day I became a mother and the start of my journey with Birthlight. Officially, my Birthlight journey began a few months before my gorgeous baby girl arrived and I am forever grateful to my excellent friend and former Birthlight colleague, Melanie, for generously offering me a block of free pregnancy yoga classes.
Yes, I was hooked on Birthlight before my baby even arrived. I just loved this circle of like-minded, supportive women all at such a transformational time in their lives. It was positive, comforting, reassuring, nurturing, exciting and wonderful for my changing body as my pregnancy developed.
My daughter was born in my sitting room beside the Christmas tree. The breathing, relaxation, and birthing advice that I had learnt in my Birthlight yoga class was undoubtedly the reason why I was able to deliver her at home. Looking back now, I realise that the essence of Birthlight was present that day; supported by my own mother, the arrival of my daughter into the world was an overwhelming, life-changing yet gentle experience.
In the years that followed Isabelle’s birth, two more gorgeous children arrived, and my yoga path unfolded. All my babies enjoyed baby yoga but in their different ways; the eldest was still and often sat watching, sucking her thumb. The middle baby was fast and furious and the last one just went with the flow, napping in the car between classes!
“Really enjoyed this toddler yoga training with Emma who is a wonderful tutor who guides and explains all elements of the course. My background is in childcare so was a little nervous doing the course but Emma soon put me at ease and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”— — Participant in Emma’s Toddler Yoga course, September 2021
Fast forward almost 20 years and Birthlight is still an important part of my life. Yoga is too – my week is spent teaching yoga with babies, pre-schoolers, children, teenagers, and grown-ups too! It is a fun and varied role -not without its challenges – and I work hard to balance my work life with the demands of my teenagers and many four-legged family members too.
There have been so many memorable moments over the years – the time when one of my toddlers made a dash and grab for the sugar bowl as it arrived on the tea tray – in preference to the organic, sugar-free snack he had been offered by his mum. Driving to Cambridge to cover a baby yoga class and the horrible realisation that I had forgotten my dolly – had to use the corners of a cushion as arms and legs instead; taking our yoga classes outside following post-covid guidance and the frustration of trying to teach without singing or going near the babies. The unlikely yogi who started her yoga journey in baby yoga classes and – ten years later – still attends my weekly adult evening class. The reward of a full class of babies and the resilience needed when numbers are low, and things get tough; the joy of observing a group of women developing lifelong friendships; the terror of tutoring online in 2020. Seeing a baby on social media from my very first class in 2006 who had passed her driving test and – just this morning – watching another of my own babies leave school.
Teaching is my passion and returning to tutoring in person reminded me how rewarding it can be. Working with a wonderfully diverse group of ladies from Barnsley NHS and Sure Start was pure magic as the power of yoga weaved its way around us over a three-day training in April this year. On day one, they were hesitant and – dare I say it – a little sceptical about their ability to ‘do yoga’ but by the end of our training, they were all hissing like snakes, rolling their spines like cats and falling asleep during short relaxations!
I received a wonderful welcome from the ladies at Arke Sure Start, Northern Ireland, in May. The sun shone for our Baby Yoga training and their warmth was infectious; and we felt that connection to each other through our shared yoga practices and shared experiences. I think it is fair to say that a good number of these ladies will go on to further explore the benefits of yoga for themselves, developing a deeper understanding of their own bodies and in turn sharing the wonders of yoga with the families they work with.
“Excellent course, very interesting and informative. Emma was a fabulous leader, couldn’t recommend enough. Thank you”— Participant in Emma’s Surestart NI, Training Course, June ’23
I continue to love the circles that we create – circles of women, of friendship, of shared experiences, mutual understanding, quiet compassion. I love the practice, philosophy and application of yoga the Birthlight way – quiet yet aware; soft but still strong; individual and adaptive; present whilst looking forward; open-minded and non-judgemental. I firmly believe that yoga is for everyone – from the massage and gentle moves and holds with the tiniest of babies, to the soft flowing yoga moves adapted for those in their later years.
May yoga the Birthlight way continue to expand spirals of joy for me – and those that surround me – for many years to come.
Birthlight Tutor in Toddler Yoga, and Baby Nurture Massage & Baby Yoga.
Emma has practised yoga since 2006. She is a qualified Children’s Yoga Teacher, Independent Yoga Network (IYN) Adult Yoga instructor and a BA(QTS) Hons qualified primary school teacher. More>>