Yoga is a practice that has been around for centuries but only in recent decades has it gained popularity among the general population. This is likely due to its variety of physical and spiritual benefits.
But did you know that yoga may also play a role in one of the most common problems faced by men and women today?
Hair loss is an issue that millions of people worldwide struggle to treat and reverse on a daily basis. A practice as simple as yoga – while it may not be the only answer – can help to slow hair loss and even promote growth.
To better understand why this may be, it’s first important to understand hair loss and its many causes.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Hair loss, also known as alopecia, is a condition in which hair is shedding rapidly from the scalp or other parts of the body. There are many causes for this condition – some temporary and others permanent.
The most common cause of hair loss is Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA). This condition affects men and women and if left untreated, it can lead to permanent balding on the scalp.
The cause of AGA is still up for debate, though many researchers believe that the androgen hormone Di-hydrotestosterone (DHT) is the culprit. More specifically, its presence at the hair follicles causes inflammation and miniaturization that eventually leads to shedding.
Other causes of hair loss include Alopecia Areata (AA), an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicle, hormonal imbalance, and stress.
An Introduction to Yoga
Yoga is a centuries-old tradition that combines breath control (pranayama), meditation (dhyana), and bodily poses (asana) for the purposes of spiritual awakening, relaxation, and health. It is practiced widely by the Hindu community, but it has also found its way into the mainstream in the past few decades.
Perhaps the reason for yoga’s growth in popularity is its many proven health benefits.
3 Reasons to Use Yoga to Accelerate Your Hair Growth
While yoga has been shown to relieve pain and tension, reduce hypertension, and even assist in the treatment of depression and anxiety, it has other lesser-known benefits. One of these is hair growth.
Let’s look more closely at the ways that practicing yoga can help to treat hair loss and even accelerate hair growth.
1. Yoga Reduces Stress Levels
Stress – both physical and mental – is a common occurrence in today’s fast-paced environment. If left untreated, though, it can lead to numerous negative effects on the body.
The most common symptoms of chronic stress include deficits in cognitive functions, poor immune system functioning, and gastrointestinal distress. But perhaps a more surprising symptom is hair loss.
A study published in 2017 showed the effects that stress (more specifically, that experienced by students during exam period) can have on hair growth. The students in the exam group were shown to have an increase in inflammatory biomarkers when compared to their non-exam counterparts but, more importantly, the stress altered the hair growth cycle.
You have many tools at your disposal when it comes to combating stress. However, did you know that yoga is one tool that has been shown time and again to reduce stress levels?
Researchers believe the positive effects of yoga on stress has to do with its modulation of the fight-or-flight response. In fact, yoga creates an opposite effect on the immune system which enables you to calm your mind and center yourself during stressful periods.
2. Yoga Decreases Physical Tension
Physical tension is caused by repetitive movements, poor posture, or even mental stress and its often felt in the neck, shoulders, and back. The tension can be so bad that it begins to interfere with quality of life.
Another thing it may impact, though, is your ability to grow hair. Tension in the upper back, shoulders, and neck can lead to pulling of the scalp. As shown in a 2016 study, this mechanical stress can lead to hair loss in the areas most often associated with pattern balding.
The reason for this correlation is simple: mechanical stress restricts blood flow that impacts the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the follicles. Continued stress will lead to inflammation and eventual shedding as the follicle is unable to support growth.
One way to combat this is through yoga. Yogic exercises have been shown to reduce tension and relieve pain. If you practice these exercises regularly enough, you may be able to reduce unnatural pulling of the scalp tissues and increase blood flow to the follicles.
You can even combine yoga with scalp massage to further reduce the tension and increases the odds of accelerating hair growth.
3. Yoga Increases Blood Flow
As mentioned above, proper blood flow is critical when it comes to hair growth. This is due to the fact that blood delivers much needed nutrients and oxygen to the follicles which then use it to support the hair growth process.
Yoga can increase blood flow in two ways. First, it does so by reducing mechanical stress. Second, it increases blood flow via gravity.
When you hang upside down, it’s not uncommon for your face to become red and even a bit warm. This is because of the increase in circulation to the scalp that occurs naturally due to gravity.
This same concept can be used when trying to increase blood supply to the scalp for the sake of hair growth.
Yogic exercises, particularly those where the head is leaning forwards or backwards, can help to increase blood flow to the scalp. This is important as you focus on regrowth. But even further, an increase in blood will mean improved nutrient delivery. The hair bulb will then be able to produce stronger, healthier hair strands as a result.