Who leads Cuddle Workshops?
Cuddle Workshop is organised by the co-creator Anna Fortes Mayer; and events are facilitated by her or the wonderful Virginia Thorn.
Anna is the main facilitator of Cuddle Workshop and has been running these events since their creation in 2010.
Born in England to a Middle Eastern family, Anna grew up with a lot of cuddles, however she soon found that the culture around her was not always so tactile! Perhaps this was the start of her yearning for there to be something out there that gives people a chance to share nurturing touch. After completing her BSc in Psychology and Social Anthropology, she trained extensively as a Play Therapist for children with autism and then as a Certified Ayurvedic Medicine Practitioner, though neither of these quite hit the spot as a career path.
In her search, Anna moved to California where she took up dancing, mostly Lindy Hop, Lambada, and Swing, which looking back, she realises were all opportunities for physical connection in a safe environment. She also attended the Burning Man festival for 8 years running, which gave her a greater ability to start thinking outside the box with her creativity and passions.
When Anna moved back to London she started dancing 5 rhythms, something she found took her into her body whilst also nurturing her emotional self, and this also had a big influence on her future career. Finally she studied Tantra, and trained extensively with Jan Day. Anna's workshops are a reflection of the non-sexual teachings of Tantra - the spiritual path to joy through connection. All of these experiences led her to create the Cuddle Workshops - a safe nurturing environment to enjoy connecting with others to the degree we feel comfortable.
Other parts of Anna's life today include being organiser for one of the largest 5 rhythms communities in London, and running an ongoing womens' group. She's the loving mum to a very cuddly little boy called Teddy. She also sees clients on a 1:1 basis for Nurturing Touch Therapy and Cuddle Sessions.
Virginia has been running the workshops since the beginning on 2016 and provides a wonderful embodied element to her facilitation.
Virginia is trained as a Dance Movement Psychotherapist MA and brings this framework to her Cuddle Workshop facilitation. Don't worry, that doesn't mean you will have to do any dancing! She is interested in what happens when we create space for the body to communicate as well as the mind. Our sensory intuition or body wisdom is continually giving us signals if we know how to listen, which might indicate for example, whether we feel within or outside of our comfort zone.
A tensing of muscles in the shoulders, or a knot in our stomach can give us a clue as to whether we feel safe being in relationship to another person in one particular moment, or not. It is her belief that if one can honour the moments one feels closed to connecting, this establishes a trust within, that is necessary to open into connection when we do feel safe.
Cuddle Workshop uses the medium of touch to explore how it feels to be in contact with another or not; to practice expressing and receiving boundaries. Virginia brings to this work an invitation to listen deeply to the body as well as the mind. Allowing the possibility for the intuition innate to all of us, to guide us towards more authentic and fulfilling ways of being in relationship.
Andrew has been involved in Cuddle Workshop since 2011 and running events since 2015. His calm personailty and gentle facilitation style instantly put both newcomers and regulars at ease.
Initially Andrew’s interest in this work started about seven years ago. He found that as a single person, he craved nurturing touch and connection when not in a relationship. After much searching for the right environment for him, Andrew found Cuddle Workshop and he booked his place! He says he really did not expect to gain anything further than a very temporary warm and cosy feeling as the oxytocin ran through his body. But to his surprise, he found that there were deeper and deeper levels to experience for those who wanted to explore further. . . . . . . he was hooked and wanted to set up something in the North, where he lives.
So after studying the world of touch for several years, Andrew started running his own Cuddle Workshops in Leeds, as well as around Yorkshire. Andrew is thrilled to be associated with Cuddle Workshop in London, whether in a supporting role or facilitating.