Yoga can help ward off depression in pregnant women according to a new study by the University of Michigan.
The study, published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, asked pregnant women identified as being prone to depression to take part in 10 weeks of mindfulness yoga. The result was less depression and even increased bonding with baby.
“Our work provides promising first evidence that mindfulness yoga may be an effective alternative to pharmaceutical treatment for pregnant women showing signs of depression,” said lead author Maria Muzik, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and assistant research scientist at the Center for Human Growth and Development, in a press release. While antidepressants are also effective, added Muzik, many pregnant women worry about how medication could affect the baby. Yoga offers a natural anecdote.
In this study “mindfulness yoga” means combining meditative focus with asana. Participants were between 12 and 36 weeks pregnant and practiced 90-minute sessions of prenatal yoga, which focused on poses for pregnancy and the growing baby.
While this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has experienced the benefits of a yoga practice, more research backing what we already know helps to increase awareness and understanding outside of the yoga community.