Sacred and Sweet: Mama Baby Yoga {part 2 of 2}

Yesterday, we talked with mother-of-twins Jess Helle-Morrissey about her experience taking her infant boys to a mama-baby yoga class, called BYOB Bring Your Own Baby, at Blooma in Minneapolis. She shared about the connection to other moms, the thrill of seeing the boys’ weekly development, and getting to know her new-again postpartum body. Today, she’s back to talk about the surprisingly deep esoteric aspects of mama-baby yoga.

Jess is a long-time yoga practitioner and a psychotherapist, and in the past year, she’s added doula, yoga teacher, and childbirth educator to that list. “I’ve been a doula since March 2011. I know, who decides to become a doula when she’s got 8-week old twins?!” Jess says. Since then, she’s become somewhat of a twin doula specialist: “I’ve attended 20 labors and 23 births—three sets of twins in there so far with a couple more on the docket. I don’t necessarily market myself as ‘the twin doula’ but the twins tend to find me, and it’s a real passion of mine.”

Jess and her boys—now 16 months—have graduated from BYOB yoga (inspired by Lisa Bergly‘s Yoga Bonding), but Jess is still entrenched in the baby-yoga world. “I’m currently working on my Lamaze childbirth educator certification and developing a Lamaze curriculum for families expecting multiples. I’m designing the course I wish had been available when I was pregnant, one that empowers instead of instilling more fear,” she explains. “Starting in June, I’ll be teaching and providing one-on-one counseling for Enlightened Mama Education and Support Center in St. Paul, Minn.”

Here’s Jess’s perspective on how BYOB mama-baby yoga helped her deepen her connection to her boys and to herself as a mother.


Mama Jess

When mamas are calm, babies grow calm.

Mamahhh: What have you learned in BYOB that helps you as a parent?
Doula Jess: 
I took so much of what I learned in BYOB into my parenting. One thing that struck me early on is how my babies would respond to our instructor, Betsy. They lit up when they saw her, and seemed to breathe a little deeper when she was around. That was a profound teaching for me—that babies respond calmly to calm energy, and vice versa.  It helped me to remember at home to return to my breath over and over again when I was feeling stressed out.

Also, in a broad sense, BYOB helped me learn the importance both of routine, and of knowing when to change things up. We would work a lot of the BYOB songs, poses, and massage techniques into our day (still do!) and that familiarity/routine was so helpful for structure at home. I’ve definitely taken that into my parenting at large. I feel like I respond more intuitively when the boys are fussy or having some off moments. I’m able to think about how our rhythm and routine might be off and whether we need to return to it, or shake things up with something new.


Mama baby yoga - downdog

A recent BYOB graduate, this little cutie knows downdog!

Mamahhh: The class has a lot of songs, smiles, and laughter, yet there’s a deeper side too. What was that like for you?
Doula Jess: 
It’s funny, after going through Blooma prenatal teacher training and BYOB training, I learned that much of the sequence is designed around chakras, esoteric philosophy, etc. I’m someone who is pretty in tune with that kind of stuff, and it totally escaped me as a participant in BYOB! Who would have thought that The Airplane Song had a connection to yogic philosophy? ;)

So even though I didn’t realize that aspect was there, I suppose I did on some level because there was such a sacred connection I would feel with my boys during class. Sacred is the word I keep coming to over and over again.  I don’t think that an outside observer of the class would describe the time as sacred, but when you’re a mama with your baby and it’s just the two of you looking into each other’s eyes on your yoga mat, it’s just a profound spiritual connection. I could literally feel the oxytocin being released in my system. Sometimes it just felt like my heart would burst with the love I was feeling. 

That’s not to say that some days weren’t really hard. One of the boys would cry through the whole class, or want to eat most of the time, or just fall asleep. I’d feel frustrated, overwhelmed, tearful.  But looking back, those were the moments that taught me about being with what is. Babies are such creatures of the here and now and they kind of force you to be there in the moment with them.


Mamahhh: How do you handle two kiddos at once in class, and for that matter, in daily life?! (We moms of singletons are amazed by moms of multiples!!)
Doula Jess:
Yeah, I tried going with both boys a handful of times, and it was often far more hectic than relaxing.  Whenever I had an extra hand—my mom, mother-in-law, my postpartum doula—I would bring both boys. But what it actually became was something really lovely: I would leave one of the boys home with a sitter and BYOB became our weekly one-on-one mama/baby date. So each baby would get to go every other week with me.

Even when they were still in utero, I’ve always been mindful of wanting these identical twin boys to have their own individual identities and experiences, as much as possible. (Read Jess’s birth story here. )So I really savored that time at BYOB each week to give whoever I was with my undivided attention, which is not always possible when it was the three of us at home. It was very sweet and very special to me.

With the twin thing, I think since I don’t know any different (they are my first kids), then it just feels like what I do, you know? Parenting twins is not easy much of the time, but it’s my normal so it feels doable. And I have pretty mellow little boys, for the most part.  I’m a lucky mama. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I’m not slightly freaked out to get pregnant a second time for the fear of conceiving a second set of twins … I have this weird premonition about it (similar to the premonition I had the first time I got pregnant) which makes me a little nervous. :)


Mamahhh: You just did the Blooma BYOB training; are you planning to teach? What inspired you to do the training?
Doula Jess:
Yes, I am definitely planning to teach! Like I said earlier, my life path changed pretty dramatically after I became a mama. After my boys were born, I became a doula and trained in prenatal yoga and BYOB because those things were so very meaningful in my own path. I became all these new things because I want to give back to mamas in the way that I was so lovingly given to during my pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. 


Moms, have you practiced mama-baby yoga? How did the experience help you as a new mom? Share in the comments below!

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