Modern-day stress can cause hair loss conditions and the practice of yoga can conquer stress.
Super Bowl XL MVP Hines Ward, a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is clearly proud of his hairless pate. And Amani Toomer (New York Giants receiver center) is too. But something else they share – along with tight end Kevin Boss, center Shaun O’Hara (both Giants) and receiver center Jon Dorenbos (Philadelphia Eagles) -– is how they train.
They all practice yoga. Yes, yoga.
Says Toomer, “If I hadn’t done yoga, I’d be out of the league by now.” He observes that a football players’ range of motion is key to career longevity. “The best way to rejuvenate the body is to get back your flexibility.”
Just about anyone can benefit from the balance, strength and flexibility that yoga provides. Perhaps even more so, anyone with hair loss.
“If a man is willing to swallow his pride and learn something new, without the ego gratification of ‘winning’, then that man will grow enormously from a regular yoga practice.” – Mara Hesed, Hatha Yoga Instructor in Los Angeles
Yoga as a hair loss treatment?
Most of us do not have multimillion-dollar contracts that we hope to extend as long as possible into our middle years. But any working person knows general health and appearance can affect a career.
“Yoga’s benefits include muscular and mental balance, strength, greater range of movement, freedom from pain,” says James Foulkes, a structural mind/body yoga therapist in the Washington D.C. area, adding how yoga practice can contribute to “greater emotional understanding and a greater sense of inner harmony.”
Which is all well and good on the career front. But how specifically might yoga affect someone losing his or her hair?
Stress can contribute to certain types of hair loss. According to Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Daniel Hall-Flavin, M.D., two conditions (Telogen Effluvium and Alopecia Areata) can be the result of psychological stress, together with other factors. By alleviating stress, physical and psychological, you can reduce the effect of these. Male pattern baldness (Androgenetic Alopecia) is believed to be due to genetic factors only.
Stress can contribute to distracting skin problems, enough that a field known as psychodermatology has emerged to address the connections between stress and eczema, acne, rosacea, hives, psoriasis, vitiligo, and other skin afflictions. If you have already lost your hair, then you have more skin showing than most. Managing stress through yoga can improve the health and looks of the skin on your head and face, as well as the rest of your body.
Posture and general musculature are improved through yoga. This can be beneficial, in different ways, for people who are already exercising as well as those who aren’t.
Still, yoga classes in most locales see a 90:10 ratio of female to male practitioners. Why?
Yoga is for men, too, hair loss or not
It may be because women are naturally more flexible. “Like attracts like,” says instructor Mara Hesed, who teaches Hatha Yoga out of her home in Los Angeles. For women, “it’s a refreshing alternative to male-dominant athletics,” she says, but argues that men can benefit from non-competitive pursuits. “Too much of anything becomes destructive,” she says.
From talking to a half dozen yogis and fitness trainers who incorporate yoga into a general wellness program, the gist of it is this: yoga takes several forms – Hatha, Bikram/”hot”, Vinyasa, Ashtanga/”power”, et al. – but all practitioners experience increased strength and flexibility. Women begin with greater, native flexibility. Men are better equipped for positions that require upper body strength. With practice, men and women acquire each other’s advantages.
So what does it take to get a guy started on a yoga program? Several yoga instructors weighed in on this:
- Jordan Mallah of Steadfast Freedom in New York City believes that only a balanced body can be a strong body. Yoga helps “muscles grow better, making exercise and sport more enjoyable, more efficient.”
- David Guzman, a certified personal trainer at Method Fitness in New York, practices yoga twice weekly to improve recuperation after a lifting workout. “It oxygenates the muscles, flushing the lactic acid.”
- Sadie Nardini, who teaches core strength vinyasa in New York, teaches a power yoga class where “huge muscle-bound guys come up to me after class just wanting to shake my hand for being able to give them the workout of their lives.”
Mara Hesed gives us some tough love on this: “If a man is willing to swallow his pride and learn something new, without the ego gratification of winning, then that man will grow enormously from a regular yoga practice.”