A study of 34 pregnant women has found that yoga can help them reduce depression or severe mood swings in them just before giving birth and that yoga is a feasible, acceptable, safe and effective method for them.
“This is really about trying to develop a wider range of options that suit women who are experiencing these kind of symptoms during pregnancy,” said Cynthia Battle, associate professor of psychiatry at Brown University.
The team which undertook the study recruited 34 pregnant women with elevated depression symptoms and they attended a programme of pre-natal yoga classes tailored for them by registered yoga instructors.
In addition to practising yoga and meditation during the classes, women were also encouraged to continue it at home. The program continued for 10 weeks and the participants were measured for depressive symptoms at regular timepoints, said the researchers.
“The study provides signs that prenatal yoga could be helpful,” Battle said. The key focus was on the degree to which depressive symptoms declined during the 10-week programme. Besides, the data showed that the more pre-natal yoga pregnant women did yoga, the more they benefited psychologically to overcome their mood swings.
The study also measured other significant changes such as mindfulness, which many researchers believe is one mechanism by which yoga may reduce depression.
Mindfulness involves directing one’s attention to the present moment, noticing thoughts, feelings, or sensations and avoiding judgement of those experiences, they explained.
The paper has been published in the journal Women’s Yoga.