Thursday, August 9, 2012


Pregnancy hormones can dampen moods, and about 20 per cent of pregnant women, experience major clinical depression.

However, new research in the form of a University of Michigan Health System pilot feasibility study indicates that mindfulness yoga---which combines meditative focus with physical poses---may beneficially assist this group of women. This is the first study to to show evidence that mindfulness yoga may offer effective treatment for depressed new mothers-to-be.

The pregnant women the subject of the study had been identified as psychiatrically high risk women---that is, those who showed signs of depression. They were also between 12-26 weeks pregnant. Those who participated in the 10-week mindfulness yoga intervention (involving 90-minute mindfulness yoga sessions with poses for the pregnant body, as well as support in the awareness of how their bodies were changing to help their babies grow) saw significant reductions in depressive symptoms. They also reported stronger attachment to their babies in the womb. The findings have been published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.

‘We hear about pregnant women trying yoga to reduce stress but there’s no data on how effective this method is,’ says lead author Dr Maria Muzik (pictured left), assistant professor of psychiatry and assistant research scientist at the Center for Human Growth and Development. ‘Our work provides promising first evidence that mindfulness yoga may be an effective alternative to pharmaceutical treatment for pregnant women showing signs of depression.’

Funding for follow up work on this subject was recently provided by a grant from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender.

Resource: Muzik M, Hamilton S E, Rosenblum K L, Waxier E, and Hadiall Z.  Mindfulness yoga during pregnancy for psychiatrically at-risk women: Preliminary results from a pilot feasibility study’, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, online July 2012.



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