You know that yoga-loving friend who is always calm, has glowing skin and great hair? Her affinity for downward dog (and other yoga poses) may just be the key. It’s no secret that regular yoga practice does both the mind and body good. From improving strength and flexibility to alleviating anxiety, yoga is great for your overall health. And, in a time of uncertainty when alleviating stress is an actual necessity, practicing yoga is more important than ever.
Beyond stress-busting benefits such as quieting the mind and cultivating clarity, yoga has another surprise in store: It can boost hair health. Get ready to roll out your mat and strike a yoga pose — or several — in the pursuit of relieving stress and achieving longer, stronger, healthier hair.
How Yoga Works for Hair Growth
Here's how yoga works its magic, spiritually, physically and hair-wise. Yoga, which means union, pairs breath with movement. In turn, practicing a yoga asana (the Sanskrit word for posture) forces you to be present in the moment. Think of it as a moving meditation.
Physically, yoga postures, or yoga asanas, stimulate healthy blood flow and improve blood circulation. Circulation in the scalp can help with healthy hair growth, according to New York City hairstylist Jasmine Anna Galazka.
She recommends brushing and/or massaging the scalp to bolster a healthy supply of blood flow to the hair follicles to promote hair growth. By massaging the scalp well, either with fingertips or a handheld scalp massager, you can stimulate the blood circulation to the scalp needed to encourage natural hair growth.
Yoga as a Hair Helper
When using yoga for hair growth, it's important to practice poses that involve the crown region of the head. Yoga for hair, for example, includes all forward bending poses. These types of yoga asanas enhance blood circulation in the head. The cells then receive more oxygen which is also good for the nervous system.
Yoga asanas can also address other hair problems, including:
- Hair loss
- Hair fall
- Thinning hair
- Premature graying
- Stagnant hair regrowth
Yoga may be exactly what the doctor ordered to boost both your hair health and your health overall.
Shop: Vitamins for Hair
Stop Stress in its Tracks
One of the most common causes of hair loss is stress. While stress is inevitable, in order to stop hair fall or hair loss, you need to nix — or at least minimize — it. The first step is to find stress-coping techniques you love and will commit to, such as meditation or yoga.
Do yoga, reduce stress. Sounds simple, which is a good thing! And with the pandemic, you may have more time at home to practice yoga. Yoga is a useful tool to relieve both your emotional anxiety over COVID-19 and any stress-induced hair loss of the past year in one fell swoop. And it requires little equipment or space — all that's needed is room for your mat!
You Are What You Eat
There is a direct connection between the health of your stomach and your overall health, including that of your hair. This means that eating a balanced diet that's rich in nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals is as essential for your hair as it is for your health.
Cortisol is referred to as the "stress hormone" and is triggered as a result of the body signaling stress. It also assists the body in transforming sugar and fat into energy. Practice the yoga tips below to lower your levels of cortisol as you simultaneously reduce stress.
You can also add a supplement such as vegan GRO Biotin Gummies, which contain essential ingredients such as biotin, folic acid, zinc, vitamins A, B-5, C, E, 6 and 12. Or, opt for GRO+ Advanced Hair Care Gummies that also include CBD to up the calming and anxiety-relieving effects of the following yoga postures.
8 Yoga Poses for Hair Growth
These yoga poses, which focus on increasing circulation to the scalp, will have you upside down but feeling more than all right.
Here are some yoga poses that can help with hair growth:
1. Vajrasana (Thunderbolt pose) & Kapalbhati Pranayama
This seated asana stretches thighs, ankles, knees and feet. It also aids in digestion, relieves gas and indigestion. Kapalbhati breathing is also known as a front lobe cleansing technique. It increases blood circulation, eliminates congestion and supports the nervous system.
- Begin by kneeling on the floor.
- Place a folded blanket beneath your knees if you need extra padding.
- Keep knees together, toes untucked, pressing the tops of feet firmly into the mat.
- To begin the pranayama, inhale deeply, placing hands over the belly and exhale completely.
- Next, take a deep breath halfway, then pump short, sharp exhales for as long as you can. Complete as many cycles as desired.
Also: Where to Donate Your Hair
2. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold & Rag Doll variation)
This asana is a standing forward fold where there is a tremendous increase in blood circulation to the scalp. It can also be done seated.
- Begin standing — or seated — with feet parallel and legs as close together as possible.
- Hinging from the hips, fold forward as if you were to touch the forehead to your shins.
- Maintain a slight bend in knees if they feel hyperextended; otherwise, press heels down, straightening the legs fully.
- Try to touch your forehead to the shins.
- In the ragdoll variation while standing, grab opposite elbows with your hands as you hang folded and allow the torso to sway gently from side to side.
3. Adho mukha savasana or adho mukha svanasana (Downward Dog pose)
This is an inversion asana that is one of the most commonly known yoga postures. Being upside-down stimulates blood and oxygen flow to the scalp. In the Iyengar and Ashtanga systems of yoga, you move the crown region of the head down to touch the mat.
- Begin in an upside V shape.
- Your hands will be directly under each shoulder and the feet aligned with hips.
- Pressing the heels toward the mat, send your pelvis higher.
- Allow the head and neck to relax, moving the crown of the head down.
- If your head does not reach the mat, slide a block underneath and press the crown into the block.
4. Sasangasana (Rabbit pose)
This is a forward folding asana where the very top of the head is pressing into the ground, stimulating the scalp and pituitary gland.
- Begin on your knees, folding forward with hips moving away from your heels.
- Place forearms on the ground in front of the shoulders with hands clasped.
- Roll to the top of the head, pressing the crown into the mat.
- Send your pelvis and butt upward, arching the spine slightly.
5. Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand)
This asana is often referred to as the "king" of all inversions and recommended to practice daily. As the body balances on the top of the head, the pose activates the hypothalamus and pituitary as well as increased the blood to the head.
- From downward dog, come down to your knees and place forearms down.
- Interlock fingers with your elbows shoulder-width apart.
- Place the top of the head — where you would balance a book — down on the mat in the space between your arms.
- Tuck toes under to straighten your legs and lift your pelvis up without releasing the engagement of your shoulders and upper arms.
- Press your forearms as you walk your feet closer to your elbows without leaning your shoulders leaning forward.
- Engage your abdominal muscles as you bend one knee at a time in toward the chest.
- Hold here or slowly lift and straighten legs toward the ceiling.
6. Maytsyasana (Fish pose)
This asana opens up the abdomen, throat and lungs. As you drop the head back, it allows for increased blood circulation all throughout the head. It can also help relieve constipation and reduce fatigue and anxiety because it stimulates the muscles of the abdomen.
- Lie on your back with your legs extended or cross legged as shown.
- Place your palms and forearms next to the sides of the body.
- Press down evenly into your palms and the heels of the feet.
- Press your forearms and elbows into the mat.
- Lift your chest to create an arch in your upper back. Lift your shoulder blades and upper torso off the floor.
- Tilt your head back and try to bring the crown of your head to the floor.
7. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
- Come to kneeling with your knees directly below your hips.
- With your hands on your low back for support, gently guide your pelvis forward.
- Arch your spine, dropping your head and neck backward.
- With one hand at a time, reach toward your heels or toward blocks that you’ve placed near your heels.
8. Pavanamuktasana (Wind relieving pose)
- Begin by laying down on your back.
- Bend and hug one knee at a time into the chest.
- Hold the front of the shin on the bent leg, pressing it into your chest.
- Breathe evenly, release and switch legs.
Stress Less, Grow More
With the strong connection between cortisol and hair loss, it's no wonder that stress-reducing activities such as yoga can help you feel and look better. But your hair wellness journey doesn't have to stop there. Making yoga, forest bathing and other acts of mindfulness regular habits is a way to cultivate a lifestyle that benefits you and your beautiful hair.
Crystal Fenton is a freelance journalist and E-RYT-200 YACEP yoga instructor.
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