Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India, and was brought to the west by Swami Vivekananda in the late 1800s. There are six main schools of yoga: Hatha, Raja, Bhakti, Jnana, Kriya, Karma, and several different styles which derived from these schools. Despite the vast variety of yoga styles and trends (everything from aerial yoga with silks to goat yoga), the core of what yoga is remains the same: it connects your mind, body, and soul. This meditative practice can calm anxiety, relieve depression, improve your overall physical health and mobility, and optimize the health of your scalp in numerous ways which I will discuss below.
Image Source: @yogi_goddess
Yoga reduces stress
Between work, family responsibilities, and all the bad news bouncing around social media, most of us are walking around with more stress and anxiety than we need. While the fight or flight response is crucial when we might have to, for example, outrun a bear, it is not so good for the hair follicles. The body releases specific neurotransmitters and neurohormones when under stress that can impact the hair growth cycle. Psychological and emotional stress can even trigger alopecia areata, a condition that results in patchy hair loss of the scalp and/or other areas of the body. Read more about stress and the hair follicle here. All styles of yoga can encourage relaxation and a respite from stress.
Yoga improves circulation
Through a variety of poses, or asanas, yoga helps to increase circulation, bringing oxygen and vital nutrients to body tissues. This provides nourishment to the scalp and hair follicles, leading to stronger and more resilient hair.
Yoga improves digestion
With today’s fast-paced, eat-on-the-go lifestyles, it is no wonder that many of us are suffering from digestive issues such as chronic constipation, IBS, and heartburn. A regular yoga practice can help the digestive tract heal and work more efficiently. Good digestion combined with a nutrient-rich diet can help maintain scalp and hair health. Click here for more on yoga and digestion.
Yoga can help optimize thyroid health
Thyroid health is a critical factor in overall health. In fact, a common test that a doctor will perform when a patient complains of hair loss is a thyroid function test that measures, among other things, the level of TSH in the body. High levels indicate a problem. Yoga helps to lower TSH levels, which reflects a more optimally functioning thyroid.
With all these benefits and more, you might just want to jump into a yoga practice. Before doing so, please consult with your doctor to ensure it is right for you. When you are ready, follow these tips:
- Find an accredited yoga teacher or yoga therapist, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions.
- Avoid asanas that could potentially cause an injury such as head stands and shoulder stands.
- Start with slow fifteen or twenty-minute sessions, gradually working up to classes of a longer duration and higher intensity.
How has yoga impacted the health of your hair and scalp? Let us know in the comments. In this article, Cristina shares with us how she practices self-care with restorative yoga.