I returned from India and continued teaching yoga and meditation, and practicing yoga asanas and four hours of meditation every day. I continued to think about infant massage, and I began going to the large medical library at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center teaching hospital. I read Ashley Montague’s revolutionary book, Touching; I combed through the bibliography and followed up on studies that confirmed my ideas about how parents bond with their children. At that time, the only information available was the studies on mammals, but I was certain these findings applied to humans as well.
In 1976, Kennel and Klaus came out with their findings about mother-infant bonding. They outlined all of the elements of the process. I realized that infant massage contained all of those elements, so it would provide long-term continuous bonding, which could only deeply influence the relationship between parents and their children.
My first child was born in 1976, and I began massaging him every day. Having taught yoga for several years, I found that a number of its massage techniques and poses were easily incorporated into our daily massage routine — a routine based on my own combination of ancient Indian and modern Swedish methods along with techniques I knew as a yoga instructor. This joyful blend provided my son with a wonderful balance of outgoing and incoming energy, of tension release and stimulation. Additionally it seemed to relieve the painful gas he had experienced that first month. Gentle yoga-like exercises ended our massage playfully and further helped in toning and relieving his digestive system. I devised a special “Colic Relief Routine,” because when I used it faithfully, every day, my baby’s so-called ‘colic’ was totally relieved in two weeks (not the 4 months our pediatrician told me it would take).
When I massaged my baby with a fully present mind, relaxed body, and open heart, he appeared to relax and was happier for the rest of the ay. I stopped massaging him for two weeks just to see if there was really any difference; the change was noticeable. He seemed to carry tension with him and to express more general irritability and fussiness, with painful attacks of colic (crying in pain, stiff, raising his knees up — keeping us up for hours in the night. From that point on I decided that massage would remain a permanent part of our lives — not only as a tool for relaxation and stress relief, but as a key part of our communication with each other.
When my son was six months old, I decided to develop a curriculum and share my discoveries with other parents. I couldn’t afford a big campaign; I made a small flyer and placed a number of them in any shop I could find that catered to new parents. My first class was with five mothers and their babies, in my living room.