Dr. Françoise Freedman
Françoise interlaces her academic research at Cambridge with Birthlight’s mission. She combines her expertise as a senior yoga teacher, swimmer and birth attendant with new ideas to open up fresh thinking and develop innovative Birthlight yoga practices.
During her post-doctoral fieldwork as an anthropologist in Peruvian Amazonia, Françoise was deeply inspired by her initiation from a shaman midwife. The experience of living with rainforest people for her first two pregnancies was life-changing and led to the formation of Birthlight in 1984.
Dr Françoise Freedman is recognized as the “Grandmother of Water Babies” around the world for her groundbreaking ideas and developments in baby swimming and baby yoga. She is an accomplished writer and has published ten books internationally: Aqua Yoga for Pregnancy (1998), Baby Yoga (2000), Postnatal Yoga: Strengthening Body And Spirit After Birth (2000), Water Babies: Teach Your Baby The Joys of Water – From Newborn Floating to Toddler Swimming (2001), Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond (2004), Yoga for New Mothers (2005), Yoga & Pilates for Everyone (2005), How to Teach Your Baby To Swim (2010), Yoga for Mother and Baby (2010) and Step-By-Step Yoga For Conception, Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond (2013) (see below).
Françoise’s vision to inspire a holistic approach to pregnancy, birth and parenting that connects the best clinical practice with indigenous wisdom remains her priority. She is a mother of four and a grandmother and considers caring for her family her finest achievement of all.
Kirsteen Ruffell is the Co-ordinator for Birthlight’s land-based training courses and is one of our experienced Perinatal and Baby Yoga Tutors. She is a registered Senior Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance Professionals, has been teaching yoga since 1998 and began tutoring in 2008. Kirsteen is passionate about nurturing students’ professional development on every training course and enhancing their ability to use new understanding creatively to best serve the students in their own classes.
Within the sphere of Perinatal Yoga, Kirsteen has developed a particular interest in Postnatal Yoga and has worked closely with Birthlight founder and pioneer, Dr Françoise Freedman, to develop specific practices for the postnatal year. She continues to refine her practice and understanding through regular CPDs (Continuous Professional Development courses) and Birthlight Conferences. Her background is in Hatha Yoga (Sivananda) and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and she started teaching Birthlight Perinatal Yoga in 2002. She is also a trained Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist (Karuna Institute).
Kirsteen is continually inspired by teaching Birthlight’s gentle and enjoyable yoga practices that work profoundly across languages and cultures to support women and babies around the world. She regularly leads Birthlight training courses in London, the Netherlands, China, Russia, Portugal, Belgium, and Germany.
Carol Anne Procter
Carol Anne is a Special Baby Swimming tutor and a Certified Aquatic Specialist with more than 10 years experience in warm water therapy for adults and children. Having one of her own daughters living with a disability from birth has enabled her to have both a professional and parental outlook in the specialised field of Aquatic Therapy for children with disabilities. Carol Anne has her own aquatic practice offering Specialised Paediatric Aquatic Therapy for children with a range of disabilities: Cerebral Palsy, Downs, Rett’s Syndrome, SWANs, Autism, ADHD plus those with an acquired brain injury. Through working in partnership with parents, Carol seeks to improve not only children’s physical abilities, strength, gross and fine motor co-ordination skills but also their communication, sensory integration and behavioural issues.
The fourth team member is the collective, it is you and the common and related work that you do, maybe in related disciplines or maybe in the directions you take after coming on a training with us or attending a Birthlight conference. It is the connections we make with you and the enriching exchanges we have with pioneers in healthcare, maternity, infant development and scientific research. We read and feel the pleasure and appreciation in the women’s feedback comments in our trainees’ case studies that reach around the globe. We smile and appreciate older ways and wisdom too, knowing that seeking and restoring balance and harmony both within ourselves and those in our classes contributes to the greater spirals of joy in society and the wider world.