Mindfulness yoga – a combination of meditation and traditional physical poses – may help relieve symptoms of major depression that affects one in five pregnant women. A pilot feasibility study from the University of Michigan found that 10 weeks of mindfulness yoga classes resulted in significant reductions in depression symptoms among the psychiatrically high-risk, expectant women who participated.
Researchers reported that this approach also appeared to strengthen the emotional ties between the women and their babies. The lead researcher noted that while many pregnant women try yoga to reduce stress, there’s no data on how effective the method is in terms of outcomes on mood.
The Michigan study was the first to show that mindfulness yoga may be an effective alternative to antidepressant drugs for pregnant women. The women participating were between 12-26 weeks pregnant. They attended 90-minute mindfulness yoga sessions that focused on poses for the pregnant body, as well as support in the awareness of how their bodies were changing to help their babies grow.