Do women who participate in yoga during pregnancy feel more optimistic, more powerful, and more well? Yes! This is the reply from a study involving 21 women who enrolled in a yoga class for six weeks. While twelve of the women had previously practiced yoga, none were currently practicing. The format of the class involved the following components: checking in (sharing the prior week's experiences), centering (visualization and breathing exercises), warm-up (neck rolls, shoulder exercises, and side stretches), yoga flow (yoga standing positions such as sun salutation), standing postures (balance, wall positions), mat work (seated postures and hip exercises), Savasana (modified to left side lying), and meditation.
Outcomes tools utilized in this study included the Life Orientation Test-Revised for measuring optimism, the Power as Knowing Participation in Change Tool version II for measuring sense of power, the Short-Form 12 Version 2.0, and the Well-being Picture Scale. Participants in the study were also given a journal to document time spent practicing yoga, and how they felt after practicing yoga, both physically and emotionally. The authors conclude that yoga as a self-care practice can be used to promote self-care and well-being in women who are pregnant.
Why are feelings of power, well-being, and optimism valuable for women who are pregnant? The authors discuss the literature which has suggested higher levels of adaptive coping in women with high-risk pregnancies, and the concept that optimism is associated with physical health. Previous studies about using yoga during pregnancy have proposed benefits to the mother both during her pregnancy as well as during labor and delivery. The authors of the study also describe power within the perspective of Rogers' science of unitary human beings, with sharing of interesting philosophical concepts such as resonancy, integrality, and diversity of the human-environmental field.
Because yoga is a popular activity with pregnant women, the study adds to the growing body of research about yoga in the peripartum period. If you are interested in learning how to apply yoga concepts for patients who are pregnant, come to Ginger Garner's continuing education course Yoga As Medicine for Pregnancy and the next opportunity to take this course is next month in New York!