Throughout the 80’s and 90’s Lolly was a founder member of the Active Birth Movement and for 15 years she co-directed the Active Birth Teachers Training Course with Janet Balaskas and Yvonne Moore in the capacity of Yoga Course Director. She campaigned for the rights of women to move freely during the births of their babies, contributing to a global movement towards natural births and resulting in many changes to policy, establishing birth centres in many major hospitals. She was part of the team of midwives, doctors and complementary therapists at the hospital of St. Johns and St. Elizabeth in St. Johns Wood London.  Lolly designed and led the yoga classes, Active Birth workshops and discussion groups at St Johns which was famous for its celebrity clientelle and extraordinary statistics for natural and water births.She lectured to midwives at Thames Valley University and continues to conduct workshops for midwives, doctors, osteopaths and yoga teachers worldwide.

Lolly’s child birth inspirations and colleagues included Michel Odent, Sheila Kitzinger, Ina May Gaskin and Janet Balaskas with whom she studied for many years. The yoga teachers with whom she trained included Donna Hollerman, B.K.S. Iyengar, Mary Stewart and Sandra Sabbatini who introduced her to Vanda Scaravelli with whom she worked for a number of years. Her husband John Stirk author of ‘The Original Body’ continues to influence her approach to practice and teaching.

Lolly continues with her work in London in her private practice, and at the leading centre Triyoga, where she teaches pregnancy yoga and Active Birth/Hypnobreathing Workshops on a regular basis. She is also a founder member of YogaBirth, for whom she mentors students and runs a postnatal training course. She runs independent workshops and training courses in this valuable work in the UK and internationally.

Birth stories & endorsements

Yehudi Gordon MB BCh FRCOG FCOG(SA)
Leading Obstetrician at St Johns

I have had the pleasure of working with Lolly Stirk since 1981.  Lolly was one of the original members of the Active Birth Movement and was very influential in making the concept of Active Birth a Reality for women and babies in the UK and throughout the world.

Lolly is an inspiring teacher.  She has a deep understanding of the principles of yoga, coupled with a formidable knowledge of the birth process for both mother and baby.  Above all, Lolly is a wonderful person who inspires confidence in the people around her and can make a  major difference to the confidence of a woman about to enter the unknown journey into birth and parenthood.

Aurelia

Hello Lolly,

I gave birth to a beautiful little girl on Saturday evening, she is completely perfect!
I went into labour very early Saturday morning and went to hospital, to be sent home of course! By time I went back into hospital at 12.30pm I was 6 cm dilated and she came at 5.47pm, an all natural labour! I cannot thank you enough for your classes, I was thinking of my breathing the whole time and it really brought me through.
The midwives at Queen Charlottes were incredible, I highly recommend the birthing centre there to any of your new students who haven’t decided!! 
Would love to come back and see you to thank you in person for helping me throughout my pregnancy, don’t know how I would have coped without your classes!! 
Aurelia xx

Rosa

Hi Lolly I came across your details again after many years and thought I would just say a belated thank you for the wonderful classes I attended at the Tabernacle in … 1998/99!  My baby Alfie is now 16 and as you can see he has turned into a very fine young man. We came to one of your classes to talk about the birth when he was about 6 weeks old and he moved around so much you held him so that I could talk about my home birth which I had without pain killers. I would like to say that I probably wouldnt have had the confidence or the knowledge to have a home birth, that didnt need any pain relief, if it wasnt for your fabulous classes. 
So thank you.


Tassy

Dear Lolly,
I wanted to thank you for the yoga classes. You were very mindful of the fact I wasn’t able/encouraged to have a natural birth & helped me overcome my reservations and resistance to it. I always looked forward to sitting in the room with you and the other pregnant ‘Mums’ – enjoying the presence of the expectant mums and the promise that being pregnant holds. There is something very special and sacred about your class, which I have rarely encountered elsewhere. It is a personal celebration of womanhood, which in our busy world is often hard to find.

Nikki

Dearest Lolly
We did it! 7.2lbs….22 hours labour….. went from 5-10 cm in 2 hours then 45 mins of pushing ending in a wonderful water birth (intact perineum woo hoo!) Henry was the perfect birth partner and used a lot of the massage, breathing and hip squeezing techniques you taught us. I used all the relaxation techniques I’ve been doing with you the last 24 weeks. Hip rolling, marching and forward-backing were important (LOTS of walking)…. Hot pack (must tell women to get the one they can heat in boiling water as no microwave use allowed on labour ward!) down my back was a god send. Most importantly, without being birth fit (thanks to your classes) I would not have been able to stand for all that time (couldn’t sit as had lots of coccyx pressure)….
We are in the pink bubble and I’ve never been happier…henry is still glowing and is so overwhelmed by the emotion he has gone through, by being such an key player in bringing our daughter into the world. I couldn’t have done it without him! Would love to bring Isla in to see all the ladies.Thank you for your guidance, inspiration and teachings.
Xxx

Rie

Dear Lolly,
I’d like to tell you that I had my baby girl born on 27th at 2:44am at St. Mary’s.
It was a super quick labour after my water broke, it took only 25min between getting on the cab to delivery. It was quite scary for me because everything went like a roller-coaster. But breathing techniques helped me to calm down. Thank you very much for teaching me those through yoga class! I’m very glad that I took your yoga class!
All the best

Rola

Dear Lolly,
Just wanted to thank you for all the tips and let you know that Baby Tarek was born on his due date on June 30th and that all went well thankfully.
My labour seems to have started the day before I gave birth but I was in denial and didn’t think it was the real thing and I went to bed the night before, although in pain, making plans for a big breakfast on my due date!
I waited at home until 10am the next day and gave birth at 12.48pm so it was relatively a quick birth (only 3 hours at the hospital!). I was in a crossed legged position during
contractions and was just using gas and air and rotating my waist as we do in class and I gave birth on my hands and knees and was rocking my back whenever i was not pushing, so these exercises along with the breathing were really really useful, and I dont think I would have ever been able to go through this if i hadnt been coming to your classes regularly.
Thank you so much, you made me and my family very proud and I look forward to seeing you again in a few weeks at the centre.
All the best and thank you again for your encouragement,

Marta

Dear Lolly and girls,
I hope you are all well. 
Apologizes for taking so long to write this email. It’s been quite busy the past few weeks in the Marino’s home with the arrival of baby Marta Lucia.(We decided to name her Marta Lucia because the night when she was born a rare shooting of starts took place in London – Lucia means in Spanish “Light”).
It all started on Saturday 24th at midnight and finished at 6:40am, so it was pretty quick and intense!
This is the birth story: 
At midnight my waters broke. I called the hospital and they adviced me to go there to check how I was doing. When we arrived at around 1:00am, the contractions started to be quite unpleasant, however, the midwife told me to go back home because I was not dilated enough. I refused to go as contractions were strong enough for me to stop walking. They put me in one of the beds at the birth ward. (The birth centre didn’t have any free room for me). I spent around 4 hours in a bed dilating and thanks to breathing control and hypnobreathing I managed to do it without any drugs.
When they took me to the birth centre, I was fully dilated so I couldn’t go into the pool. At this stage, I only took gas and air as a pain relief. The third phase took literally 10 minutes  – I pushed 3 times and little Marta was born into this world. Thankfully, I listened midwives and stopped  pushing when they told me not to. As a result, I didn’t tear and no stitches were needed. I can express how grateful I am for all the perineal exercises and massage I did with Lolly. 
I felt like superwoman and immensely happy when everything was over – and I thought that I could do anything after the birth of my baby.
Little Marta is a lovely and healthy baby. She is almost 6 weeks old. Breastfeeding was a bit challenging  the first days, but now, as we know each other better, things are much better.
Lolly, thank you for all your yoga classes, advice and kindness. I really miss your sessions and I will try to visit you in Notthin Hill one of these Tuesdays.
Big kiss,
Marta

Chrysanthy

Dear Lolly,

Our wonderful baby boy arrived on Saturday morning. We’re all well and at home, getting to know each other (and deciding on a name!).

Second time round was indeed a lot faster – second and third time mums in the group, don’t leave it too late to get to the hospital/ birthing centre 🙂 
My cramps started at 1.30am, and I’d given birth 8 hours later. The midwives (Sarah & Magda) at the C&W birth centre were awesome; I gave birth in the pool, assisted by Sarah, my husband, gas & air, and most importantly, all the great moves & breathing you taught us. 
A doulla was there too, but she wasn’t quite doing it for me, so I got my husband to ask her to leave.I did feel a bit bad afterwards (not that it lasted long, contractions don’t give you that luxury!), but I think it’s important to speak up, and your class empowered me to have the birth I wanted (minus a couple of stitches).

So a massive thank you Lolly for helping me again second time round :)
Ladies, you’re in excellent hands, and I wish you the best of luck.


Eloise

Dear Lolly
It was so lovely to see you tonight and I hope that was ok and vaguely useful for the yoga ladies…..it all feels like a bit of blur now delicious Orla is four months!!  She really is the best surprise we could hope for.
I would like to thank you so much for classes. It really touched me thinking that I wouldn’t be coming again.  I have so enjoyed them and I always tell people that going to your classes is like having a big hug!  It feels like a wonderful support and they are very special.  It has been so lovely to have your guidance during my pregnancies, so many wise words that I still think of.
Lots of love

Alice

Hi Lolly,
I wanted to let you know that I won’t be in class tonight as we welcomed our little
girl into the world last Thursday, 6th March, weighing 7lbs.
As you’ll remember I was concerned that she was back to back, like Ludo was throughout my first labour, but the clever girl had turned herself around so I encountered no problems there.  After feeling a lot of pressure in class on Tuesday night that continued through Wednesday and on Wednesday evening as I was putting Ludo to bed my waters broke.  I
was taken a little by surprise as the builders were still in at home and I hadn’t really considered that she might be a week early!  But the waters breaking first gave myself and my husband the opportunity to get our things gathered and sorted and pack the hospital bag!  Contractions started that evening but I was able to spend the night at home resting,
I can’t say I managed to sleep but I did rest and was able to breathe through the contractions.  Once Ludo had gone to nursery on Thursday morning the contractions started to get stronger and pick up speed at some pace, I feel like my body was able to relax a little more once Ludo was sorted and out of the house, and we arrived in hospital at
11am when I couldn’t stay at home any longer.  I had used my Tens machine at home and on the way to hospital and after finding it irritating in my first labour I did find it a useful tool this time round, perhaps only as distraction but everything little distraction helps! 
On arrival at the hospital I was 5cm dilated, got straight into the water, and had Maisie at 13.15 with no intervention.  I did try gas and air but it wasn’t for me as I felt it inhibited me focusing on the oh so important breathing!  Yes there were definitely times when I wanted to go upstairs to the labour ward for an epidural (!) but managed to control my emotions and focus on breathing and had him in the water, which was incredibly special.  Ludo is being
such an incredible big brother already and of course we are all completely in love with little Maisie.
Please pass on my goodluck to everyone in class and thanks to you for giving me the confidence (which in honesty was very low after my last experience) to give birth again!  If I can get through it then everyone can.
With love,

China & Neil

Dear Lolly, China & Neil here…We attended your TriYoga workshop in Chelsea in February. Our baby girl Coco was born at Edgware Birthing Centre on Sunday 2nd March, a healthy 7pounds 7ounces totally natural water birth, five & half hour labour (first stage 5hrs 12 mins, sec stage 12 mins, third stage 58 mins) She was born totally “en caul” in her sack – a really magical wonderful intense and awesome experience. The breath was my constant comfort and enabled me to birth our daughter gently and with no tears. We are thrilled, lucky, exhausted and very in love with her! Thank you so much for all your teachings Lolly! Love & Light, China, Neil & Coco xxx

Etta

Hi Lolly, it’s Etta from your Triyoga class. My beautiful little girl was born on Friday 25th Oct at 1:48am at 6lbs 7 oz & lots of black hair :). Olly & I are head over heels- she’s an angel!! She was also an angel in labour- perfect fetal position so that I laboured at home for  nearly 7 hours (with no pain relief) until I was 9cm. Got to C&W just in time to deliver upright, on my knees in just an hour. She latched on straight away & I delivered the placenta physiologically at the same time as her suckling. The knowledge of what was going on physiologically in my body from your classes/workshop helped me invaluable as it took away any fear. I felt I knew exactly what was going on & just let it happen. Spent most of my labour on all 4’s or leaning over my ball. All 4’s is a life saver! :). Thank you so much for your amazing yoga classes- I couldn’t have done it without them. I will miss them! Lots of love xx

Emma Freud

I attended Lolly’s yoga classes while I was pregnant with all my children and I think it was the best present I ever gave them. It was two hours of peace, support and calm, as well as the incredible nurture of the yoga itself. I made friends that I still have, I learnt everything I needed to know about the birth, I felt looked after and cared for, and never felt so close to my baby.