Yoga significantly reduces stress, and risk of anxiety and depression in pregnant women, a first-of-its-kind UK study revealed.
Although it has been assumed by medical professionals that yoga can reduce stress levels in mothers, a research on this has never been carried out, scientists said.
Researchers from Manchester and Newcastle Universities found that women who participated in yoga class every week for eight weeks noticed decrease in anxiety levels, in comparison to the control group who received regular antenatal treatment.
A single yoga session has been found to reduce anxiety by one-third and stress hormone levels by 14 percent, researchers found.
Stress during pregnancy has been linked to premature birth, low birth weight, increased behavioural issues in the child as toddler and adolescent, and mental health problems in the mother later.
Anxiety during pregnancy is linked with postnatal depression, which in-turn is associated with increased risk of developing depression later in life.
The study done at Greater Manchester involved 59 women who were expecting their first child. They were asked to self-report their emotional state. They were then split into several groups, some of whom participated in yoga session for a week or for eight weeks, while others just had normal pre-natal treatment.
James Newham, who carried out research at the University of Manchester, also an associate at Newcastle University, said that there is evidence that yoga reduces the need for pain relief during labour and the chances for delivery by emergency caesarean section.
Further, practice of yoga during pregnancy can help reap health benefits like stress reduction, decrease in woman’s fear of childbirth, researchers said. Apart from its other health benefits such as reduced cortisol (stress hormone) levels, less difficult birth and full-term and healthy weight neonates, practice of yoga is a low-cost intervention too, the study report said.
Some of the yoga poses that could be tried are butterfly pose (Badha Konasana), wide-legged seated (Upivista Konasana), Dandasana, Marjariasana, and Adho Mukha Savasana. However, practice these poses only on consulting your doctor, as certain conditions during pregnancy may warrant complete rest.