Yoga is good for you, offering a range of physical and mental health benefits. Many people begin practicing yoga to help them maintain their weight, and then quickly find they reap other benefits such as improved circulation and cardio health, increased flexibility, and less frequent occurrences of depression and anxiety. The full benefits of this ancient practice are so wide reaching, that modern medicine has yet to fully access and research every positive health aspect of regular yogic practice. There is so much more to explore.
How Yoga Can Help
One of these under-researched health benefits is the effect that yoga can have on your hair. The link between yoga and hair growth has long been acknowledged, as hair problems are becoming more and more commonplace amongst men and women of all ages. By the time they are 30 around 50% of men will have begun to notice some form of hair loss. Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisone and environmental factors (such as exposure to pollution and carcinogens, particularly those found in tobacco smoke) has increased occurrences of hair loss, however many yogis have found that their symptoms can be alleviated by choosing the right yoga routine.
Choosing the Right Yoga Poses
If you’re struggling with premature hair loss, or simply feel that you hair growth is stunted and would like it to grow faster and stronger then incorporate the following yoga poses into your daily routine should help:
Adho Mukha Svanasana
The Adho Mukha Svanasana pose is most commonly known as the downward facing dog. This is a popular all over rejuvenating stretch that sees you start on the floor on your hands and knees, before lifting your knees away from the floor as you exhale. Your body will create an inverted ‘V’ shape as you slowly stretch out, breathing deeply throughout.
The downward facing dog pose is great for improving hair growth and preventing hair loss because it leaves your head in a downward facing position, improving circulation and blood flow to your head. This will stimulate the hair follicles, which will in turn promote hair growth and strength. Any other yoga position that sees your head below the level of your heart will have similar effects.
Sarvangasana is also known as the shoulder stand pose. This is a position that sees the whole of your body supported by your shoulders: you reach this position by lying on your back and then lifting your legs, buttocks and back into the air in one smooth and seamless movement.
The shoulder stand pose is beneficial for promoting hair growth because it helps to regulate the function of the thyroid gland. Prolonged thyroid issues can cause hair loss, so preventing these issues naturally as soon as they start to appear will only be beneficial for your hair health, and your overall health.
The Vajrasana pose is a kneeling pose that anyone can try (no matter what your current fitness levels or if you have any pre-existing health conditions). You reach this position by kneeling with your legs underneath your bottom, big toes touching. Place your hands on your knees, and hold your spine straight to open your chest, before inhaling and exhaling deeply.
The main benefit of the vajrasana pose is that it encourages you to focus on mindful breathing, which should help to alleviate stress and anxiety. In many cases the root cause of hair loss is stress related (called telogen effluvium) and alleviating stress levels whilst addressing the causes of stress can help to promote hair growth and strength.
A Holistic Approach
It’s important to note that yoga cannot ‘cure’ hair loss or promote hair growth in isolation, and a more holistic approach should be taken if you wish to have a full head of thick and healthy hair.
Ensuring that your diet is vitamin rich is important: most people simply don’t get the full spectrum of vitamins they need from their diet alone, and so they should consider taking supplements which specifically focus on encouraging hair health. This is particularly important if you are living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, or if food preferences mean you have a relatively restricted dietary intake. The most important vitamins you should ensure that you are intaking on a daily basis are biotin,zinc, niacin, selenium, and iron. If you prefer to incorporate vitamins into your diet, rather than take a supplement, then eating foods such as eggs, bananas, raisins, and olive oil should aid hair strength. Cutting down your sugar and alcohol intake will also be beneficial.
Ensuring that you are getting enough sleep is also essential. Many people underestimate the importance that sleep has on health and wellbeing, but we need to sleep in order to allow our bodies to repair and rejuvenate. If you are not getting enough sleep then you will begin to notice that your hair becomes thin and brittle, and ultimately this could contribute to long term hair loss. There is a reason that a good night’s sleep is commonly referred to as beauty sleep, after all!
This is one of the reasons why relaxing and restful yoga poses, such as the Vajrasana pose, are so beneficial in promoting hair strength.
Finally, don’t underestimate the benefits of regular hair massage. Just as the downward facing dog position improves hair growth by improving circulation to the hair follicles, regular hair massage can manually stimulate the follicles in very similar ways. Massaging your hair will strengthen your hair roots and nourish the lengths of your hair. Just be careful not to be too vigorous, as this could actually increase hair shedding rather than improve it.
By analysing every aspect of your lifestyle in this way, and incorporating yogic practice as much as possible, you should soon begin to see improvements in the fullness, growth and overall quality of your hair.