The Founder and Director of Birthlight, Françoise Barbira Freedman is a medical anthropologist at the University of Cambridge, where she does research and teaches as an affiliated lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology.
After spending long periods of fieldwork in Peruvian Amazonia, including two pregnancies and stays with her young family, she was inspired to share the gentle approach to parenting of her Amazonian hosts among friends in the UK. As a trained yoga teacher and therapist, Françoise used the idiom of yoga to create an original programmer of movements and nurturing relaxation for mothers to be and new mothers with their babies.
Having a background in competitive swimming and swimming instructor, she also developed Infant Aquatics and Aqua Yoga original programmes. All these activities took place informally in Cambridge around Françoise four children and friends of friends until demand grew and the time came to produce books and videos. Parents and professionals who used these products asked for training and the Birthlight training structure was put in place as a development to training courses offered to Yoga Therapists at the Yoga Biomedical Trust in London.
In 1998, ten years after the first informal Cambridge classes, Birthlight was set up as a registered charity with an adjunct company Birthlight Training Limited. Birthlight courses have grown exponentially from year to year since 2001 and now has over 1500 certified instructors in four major teaching areas, mainly in the UK but increasingly abroad. Françoise is a Board member and adviser of the European Yoga Federation Council.
Françoise is a registered SYT teacher with Yoga Alliance UK. This accreditation demonstrates excellent standards as set by Yoga Alliance UK.
An expert in her field, Françoise is a speaker at International Conferences. Françoise’s books have now been translated into 11 languages, she has also written articles for numerous yoga journals and pregnancy/baby magazines.
Françoise received the prestigious Virginia Hunt Award in 2009 (World Aquatic Baby Children Association).
Françoise has always maintained close links with her research partners in Peru. As a co-founder of Yakumamay, Françoise has extended her commitment to supporting the conservation of traditional knowledge within its original context.
Françoise is the Chair of Education and Research committee for BYCT.
Birthlight is listed as a Social Impact Project at the University of Cambridge – Dr Francoise Barbira-Freedman and Learning The Art of Amazonian Gentle Parenting.