Back in 2005 I was teaching in a primary school in Tower-Hamlets. I loved teaching, but I also felt I’d left behind my teenage dream of being a massage therapist, so I went back to college to learn Indian Head Massage. At the time we (staff in my school) were researching and trying out what was termed ‘accelerated learning techniques’ – my headteacher handed me a newspaper article about the Massage in Schools Programme (MISP) and I booked myself on the training. On seeing the positive effects on my pupils and their families, I was encouraged by my MISP tutor (Sylvie Hétu) to also complete the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) instructor course. Infant massage was less well-known in the UK then and I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I loved the whole concept being able to teach parents and babies massage and experience all the benefits it brings. Afterwards, I took the plunge persuading my school to let me work four, rather than five days a week, and in 2007 Buddha Baby was born!
I taught from home, and on noticing I didn’t have any refreshments available for our discussion time one week, quickly baked a cake. The clients loved it, so I did it again the following week (now I seem to be somewhat as infamous locally for my homemade cakes as for my teaching)! After a while my classes became well known, and popular with new parents in the local area. I was also starting to practise yoga. I was quite new to me and I wasn’t used to this new way of working with my body; more mindfully and less hammering the hell out of it on a Saturday morning (yes, I was the one at the front of the class with the whistle at step-aerobics)! I started to crave the feeling yoga gave me, and like many new yogis, wanted to explore this more.
A few of my clients had asked me to consider running Baby Yoga classes, and I have to be honest, I thought it just sounded a bit crazy – yoga with babies!? Singing with babies was however something I’d thought about including in my classes so I undertook training with an IAIM music specialist. At the session, someone asked about Baby Yoga training and she recommended Birthlight. As so often happens with me, something clicked, and I came home and booked the Baby Yoga training that day!
I trained with Sally Lomas in 2011 and loved the Birthlight approach instantly. Looking back, I was so nervous to teach those few initial classes. There was lots of interest and so I just went for it, carefully planning each session and just working out what worked for me. A trainee came to observe me, she was a yoga teacher herself and I just thought she’d think ‘what are you doing teaching Baby Yoga?’ but her feedback couldn’t have been more positive, and I found confidence in myself to build upon those initial classes.
I now run regular 5-week courses in Baby Yoga for babies aged 3-7 months. I’ve learned to be more relaxed in my teaching, but have developed a basic structure for the course, which seems to suit me, and my clients well. Teaching Baby Yoga brings me so much pleasure! I look forward to my classes and the effect they have both on the parents and the babies.
Arriving in class to everything all set out, I see frazzled parents take a sigh of relief as they settle on the mat. I love the rhythm of the Baby Yoga class; as we work through the different techniques and sequences, everyone seems to find something that appeals to them. During rest and relaxation when the whole world seems to settle, I marvel at the juxtaposition between the complexity and simplicity of a Baby Yoga session. My clients often remark how calming the classes are, and how different they feel after attending. They also tell me how easy they find it to integrate Baby Yoga in their everyday lives at home, which is something I really strive for at Buddha Baby.
I also run courses in baby massage, baby music and baby play. I am a babywearing consultant and completed my holistic massage training in 2017, so I now offer holistic well-woman massage and pregnancy massage too. I attended the diastasis recti support training day with Kirsteen Ruffell and have met many other wonderful practitioners since being a Birthlight member. During the lockdown 2020, I developed my much-loved baby-play class, based on heuristic play theory for mobile babies, and I took the online training option with Emma Philip for Birthlight Toddler Yoga. I set up some pilot Toddler Yoga classes post lockdown which went really well, but I’ve not quite got these off the ground yet due to venue availability and time in all honesty!
Alongside Buddha Baby, I’ve always worked another job, changing from full to part-time class teaching, then local authority to national advisor for primary PSHE education. I am now working freelance in my advisory role which is a bit easier to manage around my commitment to grow Buddha Baby. My current aim is to open a local yoga studio space where I can run Buddha Baby full-time. I’m considering undertaking yoga-teacher-training and I’d like to do more writing too.
When I started Buddha Baby, I thought it would be the ideal career to have as a parent, and as a woman in my early 30s, kind of just assumed I would meet someone and have children soon. It turns out Buddha Baby became my baby, and I didn’t go on to have children of my own. I sometimes find it surprising that I’ve continued on this journey, but when one of my clients asked me to contribute to a chapter in her book (Strong Mothers by Christina Morris) I reflected on my role in supporting new parents, especially mothers, and realised that perhaps for me, this is how my mother-instinct is realised.
I’ll always be grateful to my teaching degree and all the experiences of primary teaching, advising and teacher-training; it has given me such good grounding for many of the classes I offer, but yoga gave me the faith to allow small seeds to grow. To nurture those moments when you think ‘maybe I could…’ and trust that ‘yes, I can’; to be guided by my intuition and follow only what feels right to pursue.
Buddha Baby, with Baby Yoga as a key part, encompasses my passions for education, wellbeing and community. For my clients, I aim to inspire little moments of calm, connection and joy. At the heart of Buddha Baby, I truly believe that sometimes it’s the simple things that make us the happiest… a good cup of tea, a comfy cushion, a chat, a song, a smile… all of which I promise my clients they can find at Buddha Baby.
Birthlight Baby Yoga
Baby Yoga Diploma starts 10th June / Baby Yoga Massage starts 7th July