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Could yoga be the new hair growth treatment? That’s what some yoga practitioners believe, thanks to its ability to reduce stress and increase blood flow to the scalp.

Keep reading to find out how yoga might benefit your hair, what the research says, and which poses offer the most benefits for your hair.

There are two potential ways yoga may protect against hair loss and enhance hair growth. The first is through stress relief.

Yoga can reduce stress, a potential source of hair loss

Excess stress can lead to hair loss, according to a 2017 study. While the exact mechanism is unknown, researchers have a theory that extreme stress can affect the body’s immune system response and (usually temporarily) slow hair growth.

Yoga as a practice can help reduce stress levels. A 2016 study found that yoga helps to reduce serum cortisol levels, which are associated with high stress levels.

A 2015 study found that regularly practicing yoga helped reduce inflammatory markers in the body. These could potentially reduce the effect stress could have on the body, reducing the likelihood a person could experience hair loss.

Yoga can also encourage blood flow to the head, which can reverse hair loss

Yoga could also protect against hair loss by encouraging blood flow to the head. Inverted (upside-down) poses can enhance blood flow to the scalp.

Medications used to treat hair loss, such as topical minoxidil, also work to enhance blood flow to the scalp, which can help reverse hair loss, according to research from 2020.

However, it’s important to remember that yoga only temporarily encourages blood flow to the scalp. This can be different from the prolonged effects applying minoxidil regularly may help to elicit.

In addition, there isn’t a specific “prescription” for yoga and how many times a day you should perform it to see results.

In one of the yoga and stress-related studies published in 2015, researchers found that participants practiced yoga for 1 hour a day most days of the week. That said, you may experience stress-relieving benefits from less-frequent yoga practice.

The following yoga poses may help to relieve stress, as well as encourage blood flow to the scalp. Specifically, research from 2019 suggests working through the poses found in the Sun Salutation series.

Pose 1: Uttasana (Standing Forward Bend)

This pose stretches the back and legs and involves folding forward, which helps encourage blood flow to the scalp. Here’s how to perform this exercise.

How to do a Standing Forward Bend

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Bend forward at your hips while bringing your arms down your legs.
  3. Touch your fingertips to your knees, toes, or floor, depending on your flexibility. You can keep the knees slightly bent.
  4. 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.
  5. Maintain this position for several deep breaths. Then raise your head up to return to a standing starting position.

Pose 2: Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

Downward-Facing Dog is a very popular yoga pose. It’s another inverted pose that helps encourage blood flow to the scalp and proves to be very relaxing. Here are the instructions.

How to do a Downward-Facing Dog

  1. Start on all fours on a mat.
  2. Shift to balance on your hands and feet, keeping your legs hip-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. 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.
  4. Increase the stretch by imagining that your spine is growing longer. Tilt your pelvis inward to feel a further stretch in your hamstrings.
  5. Maintain this position for three to five breaths, then proceed to the next pose.

Pose 3: Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)

This stress-relieving pose can help encourage scalp blood flow. You can perform this pose by following these steps.

How to do a Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend

  1. Spread your legs farther than hip-width apart, with your feet facing forward.
  2. 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.
  3. Hold the pose for 10 breaths.
  4. Inhale as you bring your torso upward, flatten your back, and place your hands on your hips.

Pose 4: Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose)

This stress-relieving pose has the added benefit of increasing blood flow to the scalp without requiring you to be completely upside-down. This is a good exercise to transition to or from Child’s Pose (see below). Perform using the following steps.

How to do a Rabbit Pose

  1. Kneel on the floor with your feet pointed and the tops of your feet touching the floor.
  2. Bend forward at your hips and bend your head forward, placing the top of your head on the ground. You can put your hands on either side of your body for support, if desired. You will be looking at your thighs. You can place a yoga brick under your head if the stretch is too far without it.
  3. Lace your hands behind your back and bring your arms up in the air to stretch your chest and front of your shoulders.
  4. Rock your body slightly forward and backward, creating a massage-like effect on the scalp. Repeat the motion three times.

Pose 5: Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Child’s Pose is a common neutral pose to return to upon completion of a yoga pose. It’s a restful, stress-relieving pose you can perform almost anywhere you have the room. Follow these steps.

How to do a Child’s Pose

  1. Kneel on the floor with your legs spread hip-width apart.
  2. Exhale as you bend forward, folding your body at your hips as you lay your torso over your thighs.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Yoga can be a larger part of your overall wellness and hair-growth strategy. The following tips may also help you see enhanced hair growth:

  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that contains lean proteins. Protein is the major building block of healthy hair and a lack of protein may slow hair growth. Options such as lean cuts of meat, skinless chicken, fish, eggs, beans, low fat dairy, and nuts can help increase your protein intake.
  • Avoid excess supplementation with the nutrients vitamin A, vitamin E, or selenium. Researchers have linked an excess of these supplements with hair loss. Read the recommended daily allowance on the back of your supplement and take only the recommended amount.
  • Take gentle care of your hair. This includes avoiding heat styling whenever possible as well as refraining from pulling the hair in too-tight braids or ponytails, which can lead to hair breakage and loss.
  • Perform scalp massage. Putting your fingers in your hair and massaging your scalp can encourage blood flow and reduce stress. There’s no specific duration for scalp massage, just until you start to experience its stress-relieving effects.

It’s important to remember that there are also medical causes of hair loss, such as alopecia areata, which lifestyle measures alone won’t treat. If you’re concerned about your hair loss, talk with a doctor about potential solutions.

Healthy hair can enhance a person’s appearance. Yoga may or may not enhance your hair health, but it can certainly act as a stress reliever and improve your well-being.

Trying these yoga poses several days a week may help you see both results in your overall sense of wellness and in healthier-appearing hair over time.