In 1972 I was 20 years old. I had practiced and taught yoga since I was 16. I met a monk from India who profoundly influenced my life, and with my husband’s support and blessings, I went to India, to learn new teaching methods and help run an orphanage in Northern India. What I learned that changed my life forever was how to massage a baby.
Leaving India for home, on the way to the railway station, my rickshaw stopped to let a group of cows go by. I looked to my right, and there was a group of shacks made of discarded wood and tin. Outside one of them was a young mother, crouching in the dirt in front of her home, massaging her baby and singing. I thought, “If mothers with nothing to give their babies but their loving touch can do this, why not in the U.S.?” It was a thought that started a stream of thoughts that continued for years to come.
I began to link the way children were in India with the way children were in the West. In India, it was not uncommon to see a toddler with a baby on his/her hip. Their games were full of holding hands, singing, hugging, and joyfully loving one another. In the U.S. it was not uncommon to see children in playgrounds shoving one another, playing hurtful games, leaving out the shy or disabled ones. I wondered, is it the constant loving touch and physical care the children received in India vs the “cry yourself to sleep” mentality of the West that continued on to so incredibly impact the older children (and then, adults)? I vowed to massage my babies and couldn’t wait to get home and research my ideas.