At dawn, many yogis face to the east, and honoring the rising sun, they salute it with 108 prostrations. These exercises, these sun salutations, have been performed in cultures all over the world: ancient and modern. Today, people rarely rise with the dawn to soak in the rays of the sun, but thousands flock to beaches and parks when the summer sun’s power is strongest, to bask in its warmth.
Like all powers, the sun can heal or harm. The ancient wisdom traditions knew both of these aspects of the sun, and treated it with caution and reverence. In Afrika, the Sun represented Man’s inner consciousness. In India, the rishis revered the sun for its life giving qualities. In the West, we have long been warned about the danger the sun presents; its rays can cause cancer of the skin and create harmful free radicals that prematurely age us. But even western sciences are rediscovering the many ways our sun can nourish us as well. In China, the ancient Taoists came to know that the sun provides a healing energy; they called it sun chi.
Our Healing Sun
The ultraviolet rays that are emitted by the sun indeed do have a power to damage us, if taken in excess. But in moderation, this same radiation can heal. The sun’s UV light is known to kill harmful molds, fungi, viruses and bacteria. Our eyes are windows that allow this sterilizing light to bathe the arteries at the back of the eyes, where every two minutes all of our blood passes. This bathing of our blood in UV helps to kill harmful bacteria. At least, it will if we allow it to.
Our fashion habits for wearing sunglasses every time we step out of doors prevents the sun’s healing rays from reaching the back of our eyes. Our species evolved outside, not indoors, and without sunglasses. Perhaps Mother Nature knew best! lol Allowing our eyes some time in direct sunlight without being shielded may be an excellent way to tap into a natural healing mechanism that is available for free and without prescription.
Sunlight can also increase white blood cell count, which helps us fight off infections, and enhance the oxygen carrying capacity of our red blood cells. But one of the best medicines that the sun bestows upon us is vitamin D.
Sun Chi & Vitamin D
There have been dozens of scientific studies over the last few years showing a remarkable range of benefits from vitamin D, and a frightening list of problems that occur when we are vitamin D deficient. At least 16 forms of cancer, including breast cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer may be preventable with optimum vitamin D levels. The further we live from the equator, the more prevalent cancer becomes. There is a direct correlation between the amount of sunlight we receive and cancer rates. A study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, in 2009, found that 75% of Americans (european decendents) are vitamin D deficient, and this rate rises for Indigineous (90%) and African Desendants (97%!).
Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin at all. Vitamins are substances that our bodies need, but cannot manufacture; we must obtain them through our diet. Vitamin D is more like a hormone that is produced in our skin, and from there is it is carried to our liver where it becomes a steroid called calcitriol. From the liver it is distributed to our intestines, bones and other tissues. Every cell in our body has receptors for vitamin D; it is used in making enzymes and proteins and affects more than 2,000 genes. It is anti-inflammatory and a regulator of insulin levels.
Vitamin D Deficiencies
The effects of vitamin D deficiency we learn that not having enough vitamin D can play a role in, not just various forms of cancer but also:
|- asthma, especially in African children
- increased rate of falls and fractured bones in people over 65
- increased cardiovascular disease
- high blood pressure
- autoimmune diseases
- type 2 diabetes
- metabolic syndrome
- multiple sclerosis
- chronic pain and chronic fatigue
- and several other disorders
Sources and Dosage
The most effective source of vitamin D is the sun. Exactly how much you need depends upon many factors: your age, your skin type, your body size, the time of day, the time of year, where you live and any disorders or diseases you have. Depending upon these factors, somewhere between 15 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight, without protection, 2 to 4 times per weeks should be sufficient to produce as much vitamin D as your body will allow. The body will never overproduce vitamin D. More frequent, and shorter exposures are more effective, and safer. The sun’s UV rays are blocked by glass, so you cannot stimulate vitamin D production when you are indoors or in a car.
The sun is powerful medicine and like all medicines should be taken in moderation and with respect. Exposure to the sun will also increase the amount of free radicals in your body, so make sure you stock up on antioxidants.
Vitamin D is fat soluble, it will be stored in the body and can build up over time.
If you are not sure what levels are right for you, talk to your doctor, or holistic health professional.
Sun chi will never produce too much vitamin D. Treat the sun with respect, don’t over do your time in the sun, but do spend time under its gaze. Balance your time in the sun with time spent connected to the Earth. Through spending time in nature we will be following the wisdom of the ancients. Sun chi and Earth chi are two therapeutic practices that have been largely forgotten in our modern culture. Both are free, effective and a very pleasant way to spend 30 minutes.
Take some time away from your busy day, find a park or a beach and reconnect to the Earth and Sun. Take off your shoes, your socks, and roll up your pant legs and your sleeves. Your body and your mind will love it.
#RBG SUN SALUTE
Sun Salute! Chi Up!