The number of people suffering from hair loss is increasing at a far greater pace, irrespective of gender. Also the age at which people start experiencing hair fall is reducing. Many factors today affect hair growth. Pollution, water, diet, lifestyle, smoking and stress are a few more common contributors. While medications are effective and plenty, they’re not always the best option. Natural remedies like adding herbs, leafy green vegetables and fruits to one’s diet are healthier options that work well. Yoga is one such mode of healing that promotes hair growth in a healthy and effective way.
How can yoga benefit hair growth
Yoga effectively helps you relieve stress, promotes blood circulation to the head and improves your lifestyle. These three factors itself make the majority of the difference to your hair. According to a 2017 study, excessive stress leads to hair loss. Stress affects the body’s immune system response which slows down growth. Yoga is a practice that reduces cortisol levels, thus reducing stress. A 2016 study deep dived into this. Another 2015 study found that yoga reduces inflammatory markers in the body. This reduces stress and the likelihood of hair loss. Furthermore, Yoga improves blood circulation to the head. Inversions are the most popular ways to achieve this. Even forward bending postures improve blood circulation to the head. When blood circulation is good, it acts as a protection and even reversal for hair loss. Many breathing practices also improve blood circulation.
Yoga postures for hair growth
Let’s look at yoga postures that relieve stress, promote blood flow to the scalp and encourage hair growth.
Standing forward fold (Uttanasana)
This posture involves bending forward which promotes blood flow to the head region and scalp. It also increases oxygen supply to the head, making the hair follicles stronger.
How to do standing forward fold:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
- Bend forward at your hips while bringing your arms down your legs.
- Touch your fingertips to your knees, toes, or floor, depending on your flexibility. You can keep the knees slightly bent.
- Relax your head and feel it hang in this position. Feel the stretch in the back of your legs. If needed, you can lean slightly forward to the balls of your feet to enhance your balance.
- Maintain this position for several deep breaths. Then raise your head up to return to a standing starting position.
Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
A part of the Surya Namaskar series, this inverted posture also encourages blood flow to the scalp. There is also a boost in oxygen to the scalp. It also calms the mind and helps relieve stress.
How to do downward facing dog:
- Start on all fours on a mat.
- Shift to balance on your hands and feet, keeping your legs hip-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Spread your fingers wide and imagine your body’s energy flowing through your hands to the mat. Imagine your body is making an upside-down V.
- Increase the stretch by imagining that your spine is growing longer. Tilt your pelvis inward to feel a further stretch in your hamstrings.
- Maintain this position for three to five breaths, then proceed to the next pose.
Wide-legged standing forward bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)
A stress relieving asana that also encourages blood flow to the scalp. It stretches the back, relieves tension and stiffness, and calms the mind.
How to do wide-legged standing forward bend:
- Spread your legs farther than hip-width apart, with your feet facing forward.
- Bend forward from your hip joints, placing your hands flat on the floor. If possible, rest your head on the ground or against a yoga brick for stability.
- Hold the pose for 10 breaths.
- Inhale as you bring your torso upward, flatten your back, and place your hands on your hips.
Child’s pose (Balasana)
A restorative asana that relieves stress and encourages blood flow. It calms the mind and is very relaxing. It is a perfect posture to do after a long day or when you’re feeling tired. It also has a positive impact on digestion and mental health.
How to do Child’s pose:
- Kneel on the floor with your legs spread hip-width apart.
- Exhale as you bend forward, folding your body at your hips as you lay your torso over your thighs.
- Stretch your arms forward, placing your outstretched arms palms-down on the floor. Imagine your body is going in two different directions: Your hands are reaching forward while your pelvis is stretching backwards.
- Take several deep breaths, staying in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to as long as you desire. Imagine the stress and anxiety leaving your body as you perform this pose.
Shoulder pose (Sarvangasana)
This posture works on various muscle groups. It enhances blood circulation and oxygen supply, making this beneficial for dry and thin hair.
How to do shoulder stand:
- Lie on the back on a folded blanket. Check that the head and spine are aligned and that the legs are straight with the feet together. Place the hands beside the body with the palms facing down.
- Relax the entire body and mind.
- Contract the abdominal muscles and, with the support of the arms, slowly bend knees and raise the legs to a vertical position and straighten the legs now.
- When the legs are vertical, press the arms and hands down on the floor.
- Slowly and smoothly roll the buttocks and spine off the floor, raising the trunk to a vertical position.
- Turn the palms of the hands upward, bend the elbows and place the hands behind the rib cage, slightly away from the spine, to support the back. The elbows should be about shoulder-width apart.
- Gently push the chest forward so that it is pressed firmly against the chin.
- In the final position, the legs are vertical, together and in a straight line with the trunk. The body is supported by the shoulders, nape of the neck and back of the head. The arms provide stability, the chest rests against the chin and the feet are relaxed.
- Close your eyes. Relax the whole body in the final pose for as long as is comfortable.
Head stand (Sirsasana)
One of the best inversion you can do to improve blood circulation and oxygen supply. It reduces hair loss, thinning of hair and balding. It promotes new hair growth as well and prevents graying. It encourages dormant hair follicles to maximize growth capacity as well. It also releases toxins from the body.
How to do headstand:
- Place the forearms down and interlock the fingers
- Now place the crown of the head between the interlocked fingers on the mat and wrap the hands around the head. Make sure the elbows are shoulder width apart and pressing down.
- Lift the knees and buttocks, and start to straighten the legs
- Walk the feet as close as possible and straighten the back. Transfer the weight towards the shoulders and crown of the head, and feel light on your legs
- Bending the knees slightly, bring one knee to the chest. Tighten your abdominal muscles, hold the breath and then bring the other leg close to the chest
- Stay with knees close to the chest for a few breaths
- Once stable, straighten both the legs up towards the ceiling
Fish pose (Matsyasana)
An effective asana for strong and healthy hair growth, the fish pose improves blood circulation and also helps with stress relief.
How to do fish pose:
- Sit down with the legs extended in front and place the hands on the mat behind them with the fingers tucked under their buttocks.
- Now lower the elbows to the mat and lean backward. Make sure the shoulders are in line with the elbows.
- Slowly and gently drop the head back as far as it feels comfortable. Try to touch the crown of the head on the mat.
- Keep the chest up and open. Stay here and keep breathing deeply a few times.
- Now slowly lift the head up and release the arms to come out of the posture.
Breathing practices for Hair Growth
Frontal lobe cleansing (Kapal Bhati)
A rejuvenating cleansing practice, Kapal Bhati invigorates the mind and body, releases toxins, improves oxygen supply and reduces free radicals, improving hair growth. It also reduces stress and releases tension.
Bellows breath (Bhastrika)
This practice purifies and balances the nervous system, removes toxins and makes the mind and body more balanced. This in-turn contributes to releasing stress and improving hair growth.
Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana pranayama)
This breathing exercise reduces stress, balances the nervous system, and induces a sense of calm and tranquility within the mind and body.
Other Yoga Practices for Hair Growth
Yoga helps you develop a well-rounded, balanced lifestyle. The more regular your routine, the better your health and well-being. Eating a balanced diet that consists of wholesome food such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc. is very helpful. A healthy gut and digestion releases toxins and keeps your system balanced. Too much stimulus, like straining the eyes, can cause hair loss as well. So regular eye exercises, splashing water and resting the eyes enough are helpful. Avoiding unnecessary or excess medication and supplements is helpful as your body will have fewer chemicals and heat to manage. Use shampoos that contain less chemicals, avoid too much heat-related styling, tying your hair too tight or combing roughly. Regularly doing oil scalp massages will improve blood circulation significantly.
The effect of Pitta on hair loss
Pitta is a dosha or component present in every individual. According to Ayurveda, Pitta dominant people tend to have excess heat in the body. So despite doing the above practices, if the heat is too much, one tends to get hair loss. Pitta dominant people should ensure the body remains cool. Sweet, astringent and bitter tastes can control Pitta. There are many cool beverages and cooling fruits and vegetables can be consumed to keep the body cool. A few examples are leafy greens, celery, spirulina, coconut water, etc.
Sometimes hair fall could also be due to an underlying condition. In such cases, when you do not see much changes, always get a consultation with a doctor. There is no one aspect that can impact hair growth. It has to be a holistic approach that is done regularly and in balance. Commit to a healthier lifestyle that involves exercise, meditation and a healthy diet to see the wonderful changes from within