How can Yoga help with Prenatal Depression

Depression is tough to deal with in the best of circumstances, but it’s even harder when you’re pregnant and everyone expects you to be radiating joy and excitement. Unfortunately, the problem is often ignored and women are made to feel like they’re not being good parents. This simply worsens the problem as ignoring depression or blaming yourself won’t make it go away. The truth is depression during pregnancy, called prenatal depression, is extremely common – it affects about 1 in 10 women

Expectant mums and their spouses need to be aware of perinatal depression because this is a treatable and preventable condition. However, to deal with it effectively, you must first acknowledge the problem and seek help. In addition to therapy or counseling, you can also adopt healthy lifestyle changes. The most effective of these would be the adoption of a disciplined prenatal yoga routine. 

How Prenatal Yoga Helps Manage Depression

Yoga is widely regarded as one of the best forms of exercise during pregnancy because of its adaptability and gentle movements. When it comes to yoga’s mental health benefits, these are associated with the combined effects of physical activity, along with deep breathing and mindfulness. This not only promotes cardiovascular health and flexibility but also lowers heart rate and levels of stress hormones. 

The practice of prenatal yoga can boost your mood as it elevates levels of endorphins and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that is also regarded as a feel-good mood booster. The meditative focus of yoga also slows or calms the limbic system, which is the part of your brain that regulates emotions. This results in better emotion control and less reactionary behavior in stressful situations.

All of these effects are not just speculative but are backed by solid evidence. A study by researchers at the University of Michigan found that the practice of yoga in women with prenatal depression promoted better mental health within ten weeks. The women experienced a reduction in depressive symptoms, improved mood, and stronger emotional connection with their unborn babies. 

In addition to these observed benefits, yoga could help relieve prenatal depression through a variety of mechanisms. 

Promotes Interoceptive Awareness 

Yoga is also known to cultivate self-awareness, which is in itself helpful, but research shows that it also promotes interoceptive awareness – the awareness of internal bodily sensations and changes. This has been shown to improve women’s abilities to cope with stress and depression. The practice of prenatal yoga was reported as empowering, as it enabled women to overcome common anxieties and fears of childbirth. 

Boosts Self-Esteem

Prenatal depression can also be exacerbated by body image and self-esteem issues that can develop during pregnancy. Yoga can make it much easier to overcome these problems as there is plenty of evidence showing that yoga improves feelings of self-esteem and body image perceptions. 

Coping With Pregnancy Symptoms

From heartburn and reflux to piles or hemorrhoids, pregnancy symptoms can be not just unpleasant, but downright painful. Yoga is recognized as a natural pain management therapy, decreasing and dissociating negative emotions from pain. This makes it easier for you to cope with pain and raises your pain tolerance levels. This is why, yoga routines are also recommended for people with chronic pain to improve quality of life. 

Improves Sleep Quality

Discomfort and pain can significantly impair sleep quality, which in turn affects your mood and increases the risk or severity of depression during pregnancy. This can have a cascading effect. Yoga can provide relief from such symptoms as the mediative aspect of yoga helps lower stress, combined with the normal feel-good effects of any exercise. In this regard, studies show that Yoga Nidra is particularly effective at providing relief from sleep problems. 


Depression can make you feel like you are all alone, but you are not. Millions of expectant women share the same experience and your feelings are valid. Practice self-compassion and reach out to online therapists and support groups for help because you deserve it. Pregnancy is a profound journey, and prioritizing your mental health is an essential act of love for both you and your unborn child. Prenatal depression is not permanent, and with the right support, you can emerge stronger, resilient, and ready to embrace the transformative journey of motherhood.

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