Publication Date

Spring 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Rachel Tinius (Director), Whitley Stone, Maire Blankenship, and Danilo Tolusso

Degree Program

Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport

Degree Type

Master of Science


The COVID-19 pandemic poses risks to the mental health of expecting mothers as studies have demonstrated increased levels of stress and anxiety for new and expectant mothers during the pandemic. Prenatal yoga has been shown to be effective for improving mental health during pregnancy, but no research has been done to determine its effect on mental health during a pandemic. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of a 10-week prenatal yoga intervention on the mental health of pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Baseline levels of anxiety and depression were high, with an average depression score of 8.10 ± 4.85 (score > 8 represents possible depression) and an average anxiety score of 39.26 ± 12.99 (score ≥ 39 represents clinical significance). There were no differences in demographic factors or depression/anxiety scores between groups at baseline. Women (n = 19) were randomized to a yoga or a nonyoga control group. Same day surveys suggest that immediately post-yoga session, women felt significantly less depressed (p = 0.028), tense (p < 0.001), and fatigued (p = 0.004). Post-intervention, there were significant group differences in anxiety (p = 0.002), depression (p = 0.032), and total mood disturbance (p = 0.002). The findings of this study may provide clinicians with valuable information regarding alternative exercise options for mental health during pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Kinesiology | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Psychiatric and Mental Health