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April 27, 2015
This is a subject you probably won't cover in yoga teacher training, but read and think about it. There are a wide variety of different benefits yoga is known to bring including flexibility, strength and stress relief. A little known fact about yoga is that it promotes hair growth, thickness and health like nothing else. Move over Rogaine and costly hair products because yoga delivers superior results and only costs a few minutes of the day. In order to understand how this works, an overview of hair in general is helpful.
There are two varieties of hair: vellus and terminal. Vellus hairs are small, short and fine, covering the entire body with the exception of the palms and soles of the feet.
Terminal hairs on the other hand grow much longer and experience 3 different cycles within their lifetime. The majority of people believe that the hair that is growing out of the scalp is dead but this is actually not true. "Terminal" means just that; it lives, hopefully grows nice and long, and then dies.
The first stage is called anagen, the active growth phase. This stage lasts anywhere from 2-6 years depending on the individual and the length of this stage determines how long an individual's hair may grow. This is largely genetic, though it can be influenced by lifestyle factors, which we will discuss later. During the anagen stage, the hair follicle is lush and healthy, and the hair is deeply rooted and actively drawing nutrients from the scalp.
The second stage is called catagen and it is a brief transitional phase lasting only a few weeks. During this time, the follicle canal that was once so nourishing to the hair actually recedes and dries up, breaking away from the dermal papilla which is the source of nourishment.
The final stage is the telogen phase which runs for 2-3 months. This is essentially a time of rest for the hair follicle and during this stage the hairs may be shed from the scalp since they are no longer rooted. Fortunately, no more than 10-15% of hairs are in the telogen phase at any given time during the life of an individual so hair is never drastically shed.
Now armed with the above information, hair loss and lack of vitality may be combated naturally and the key is to make that anagen stage as long lasting as possible but how can we go about doing this?
The thing that makes the anagen stage different from the other two stages is the hair follicle's connection to the dermal papilla. The dermal papilla gathers nourishment to convert into healthy, shiny hair but where does the nourishment itself come from?
Blood is the carrier of all nutrients to the scalp but the scalp is at a serious disadvantage since exercises such as running may get the blood pumping to other areas of the body but that increase doesn't reach the scalp.
Yoga is an exercise that actually does get blood flowing to the scalp through poses such as downward dog, standing forward bend and many others. That is the reason why so many yoga practitioners have such beautiful, lustrous hair, because blood flow is directed to the scalp, leading to a surge in hair growth and health.
Sun salutations provide lots of good blood flow to the scalp and they are generally done as a warm up in preparation for different varieties of yoga practice. Any pose that leads to the inversion of the head is wonderful for the scalp and provides a beneficial increase in circulation to the head region.
In order to cultivate a full head of lush, healthy hair, daily yoga practice may be combined with healthy eating habits, regular hair brushing and nutrient supplementation in order to create a synergistic effect that yields better and longer lasting results than even the most expensive hair growth treatments.
A wonderful side benefit is an increased level of health and wellness overall which complements the head of hair nicely. What could be better than promoting health and beauty at the same time, with the same practice? Yoga is a practice capable of enriching all areas of life.
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