Published: Thursday 15 February 2018

We welcome students of many backgrounds on our courses and Mairi, our featured student here, already had a background in yoga, but of the adult variety! Let's find out more about Mairi...

Name: Mairi McLaughlin

Lives: Glasgow

What do you teach? Baby Yoga, Baby Massage, Adult Yoga, Spinfit, Body Balance and HIIT

How long have you been an instructor? Almost half my life!! I have been an adult instructor for 17 years but just qualified in baby yoga and baby massage this summer following the birth of my son in April.

What made you want to become an instructor? I have always loved fitness and yoga and first qualified in adult instruction in 2000 to do as a part time job while studying at university. I have gradually added to my portfolio of qualifications since then, training as a yoga teacher and now also in infant massage and baby yoga. It was the birth of my son in April that inspired me to train with to baby and beyond. I saw it as the perfect opportunity to combine my 2 loves, fitness and being a Mum! I loved doing my training and practicing everything on my son (as well as on my doll)!

Have you always been an instructor? I have been an instructor on a part time self employed basis since I was 18, so yes I have done it all of my adult life! I have also always had a full time job as well though. I currently work as a Partnership Manager (although I am on mat leave at the moment).

Why did you chose To Baby and Beyond for your training? I chose To Baby and Beyond for a number of reasons; firstly I loved the flexibility of the distance learning option. With a new baby and other commitments, being able to study at my own pace and in my own time, (even if that sometimes was at 3am when I couldn't get back to sleep haha) was ideal for me! Secondly I really liked the quality and depth of the course which I think is so important. To be a good instructor you need to really know your stuff and this is even more important in my opinion when dealing with potentially vulnerable groups such as new mums and babies. I had seen other courses that were much shorter (and also much more expensive) but did not appear to give the same depth of learning or information as To Baby and Beyond. Finally the cost. Compared to some other providers I researched the cost of training at To Baby and Beyond was fantastic. Totally affordable, with payment options and a great quality product. A cost you could easily make back with in a few months of delivering.

What did you like best about the training with To Baby and Beyond? Everything! I can't fault any of it at all. I loved the flexibility, the quality, the cost and the support available from my tutor and from the online community on Facebook. I also particularly enjoyed doing my case study sessions. I learned so much from these that will help me a lot for future delivery.

What’s your favourite part of your job? My favourite part of being an instructor is the social aspect, I just love the meeting and helping new people and the friendships and acquaintances that are formed along the way. And now as an instructor who teaches baby classes I also get to meet the wonderful babies! I also love the flexibility and freedom being an instructor brings. You manage your own schedule, doing as much or as little as you want and can fit it round other commitments to suit yourself such as another job or family commitments.

How do you keep your skills up to date? I have always done regular CPD across all my instructing as I believe it is so important to stay up to date and current with industry standards. As a certified level 4 Advanced Instructor on the Register of Exercise Professionals I also have to complete a certain amount of CPD each year to maintain my registration but that is not why I do it. I like to do formal and informal CPD for example attending courses and workshops when I can and also reading relevant industry articles (mostly online) to keep up to date.

Do you have any favourite websites that you use? Yoga wise I really like yoga journal as I think they have some really good and well written articles. I also think the online communities such as Facebook groups are fantastic and invaluable as we can all share and learn from and support one and other.

What qualities do you think are important in a yoga/massage instructor? I think the two most important things are 1- personality. You have to be able too create a warm, welcoming and safe environment for your participants to enable them to learn safely and effectively. Create a rapport with them if you can and relax and have fun together while you teach and they learn. And 2- knowledge. You have to know your stuff, and not just your lesson plan, you have to have a bit more knowledge behind that to be able to answer questions and adapt if required. However never fake knowledge. If you don't know don't pretend to as this can be dangerous and integrity is crucial. instead find another way to deal with the question or go and find out and get back to them later.

What benefits do you derive from yoga/massage? As well as all the obvious physical benefits I think it is so important to note and not underestimate the mental and emotional benefits of the practice. Both massage and yoga can make you feel calm, centred, refocused and connected with your baby. Even if you are having the most difficult day, stopping and doing a little bit of yoga (even if it's just some pranayama) can help turn it around.

Have you learnt anything surprising about massage/yoga? I guess this shouldn't be surprising but it was a bit for me at first, in relation to the difference between teaching adult classes and teaching baby classes and that is that babies are really quite unpredictable at times haha! They don't particularly care about your timings or lesson plan! But they are still fabulous and as we always say massage and yoga is a 2 way process and communication with your baby so go along with their cues!

What’s your top tip for massage/yoga? Be prepared to adapt! Go with the flow and work with your group and the energy in the room. For example if you are teaching baby yoga and according to your lesson plan are due to go in to a song and baby sequence yet 6 out of the 7 babies are sound asleep on their mat, do an adult sequence instead, even if it wasn't in your plan and come back to the song and baby sequence later when they wake up or the following session. The participants won't know any different and it will work and feel much better. It's really important to have a lesson plan but sometimes it goes right out the window! As long as you stay safe and effective (and calm) in your teaching when the unexpected happens that's the main thing!

Have you had an amusing experiences in your work as an instructor? Haha - yes!! Loads!!! But to one that I can share is more challenging!! A recent one that involves only me is when I was practicing part of my baby yoga sequence with my son just before heading out to class (I wanted to be sure a transition from one pose to another would work), I had him on my shins doing baby on shins / 'superbaby' and he proceeded to spew all over me!! I had to quickly get changed before I got to class but only when I got there and had just started the warm up did I realise I still had some sick in my hair!! D'oh!!
Or another was when I was teaching yoga when I was 6/7 months pregnant and my baby seemed to particularly like the tree pose! Every time I would do this pose the baby would start visibly moving and kicking which everyone in the class found amusing an which did make the pose slightly more challenging!

Who would you most like to teach on one of your courses? Oh that's a hard one!!! Anyone really! Yes it would be fantastic to have classes filled with celebrities etc but as long as my classes are busy and the clients are enjoying and benefiting from them I don't mind who they are! What I find so rewarding is watching people learn and grow confidence and enjoy themselves as they work through the class or course, especially if they have maybe been sceptical or apprehensive at the start, and then I speak to them after and they say how they have enjoyed it and will come back. That's the most important thing for me. I want my classes to be full of those people and people they have told about it!

You can find Mairi online in the following places:
Website: (where she teaches her classes)
Facebook: Mairi McL Fitness & Yoga
Twitter: @MairiYoga
LinkedIn: Mairi McLaughlin

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