Another healing, health practice I enjoy partaking in issun bathing or atapa snana, the yogic practice for the healing science of basking in the sun’s rays. As a melaninated person, the pigment all over my body serves multiple healing purposes. Melanin refers to a pigment found in nature that stands out in hair, eyes, skin, scales and feathers. If our bodies are a battery, then, the sun is the charger. The sun is a known energy source, and not just for plants. Ancient people understood and revered the power of the sun; they created entire religions devoted to this planet. Why do modern societies no longer acknowledge the power of this planet?
I think it is also important to discuss the effects sun bathing can have on your mental health and emotions. I think we can all attest to feeling happier, in the sunshine. Sunshine can literally make you feel warm inside and out. Although this seems like common sense, I was surprised to find that there is a very small correlation found between daily weather and daily mood. I should point out that seasonal differences in weather are not the same as, nor do they have the same effect as daily weather differences. I bring this up because Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) is a disorder that refers to a consistent and recurrent decrease in your mood, including depressive episodes, over the course of months, not day to day. Specifically, SAD symptoms normally emerge for the fall and winter months but dissipate during the spring and summer seasons. If you are experiencing symptoms of SAD, or just missing the sun, in addition to therapy and increased physical activity, there are light lamps you can purchase to mimic natural sunlight.
A 2008 study by Goodman and Bercovich studied how some vertebrae animals are able to convert sunlight into metabolic energy by using their melanin. Specifically, their study focused on birds, lcarus and dark human skin. As a melaninated woman, reading this article was empowering! This led me to believe that my skin also, converts sunlight into energy!
Melanin serves multiple purposes in our bodies. The dominant human malanins are either brown/black, called eumelanin or red/yellow called pheomelanin. Eumelanin has been found more effective at deactivating UV sunlight and visible energy, compared to its counterpart. In dark skin, melanin works to protect the skin from sunlight and increase body temperature. In Central Africa, it is believed that having less body hair and more melanin in the skin, aided in the development of the “energy-hungry cortex, enhanced survival and opened a critical stage of human advancement” in this region and descendants. Being that variations of melanin-saturated skin color came from Africa, white skin came as a byproduct of people reproducing and migrating to higher altitudes with less sunlight. Due to there being less sunshine, their bodies required less “natural sunscreen”, in the form of melanin.
While we’re on the topic, let’s go ahead and discuss sunscreen. I mean seriously, who decided the sun is bad for us? If your skin is well moisturized, it would not dry out in the sun, beloved. Sunscreen is so illogical, especially for melaninated people! Let’s discuss why. Biologically, we are dependent upon the sun, as is almost every life source. Melanin serves as a natural skin protectant by interrupting the production of vitamin D. This is significant because vitamin D regulates over 2,000 genetic codes and without it, genetic infrastructures would be in shambles. Although the decrease in melanin was a minor trait, humans have also lost the ability to convert necessary sunlight into metabolic energy. This discrepancy has, at least, lead to a dramatic increase in Parkinson’s disease, involving the de-melanization of the substantia nigra (Brenner, 2014).
In addition to sun bathing, sun gazing is another healing practice from this yogic tradition. Sun gazing is as it sounds, directly looking at the sun to receive healing, enlightenment and nourishment. This ancient practice has been practiced by numerous civilizations such as the Mayans, Aztecs, Greeks, Egyptians. Sun gazing is also frequently practiced during such exercises as Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga and during Native American rituals. Have you ever considered why Western medicine cautions against looking into the sun? Are they trying to keep you in the dark? While we’re here, let’s also mention ultraviolet rays. Realistically, ultraviolet light is one of eight light frequencies, each with healing powers. It seems to me that sunlight isn’t the exact problem, as much as the interaction between the toxins released by the skin and sunlight. To clarify, most of the toxins that the skin is releasing are caused by diet.
1. Kills bad bacteria: In 1877, Downes & Blunt discovered that sunlight can destroy harmful bacteria. In 1903, Niels Finsen published the use of sunlight to disinfect and thus heal wounds, as well as in the treatment of lupus vulgaris. These discoveries earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1903.
2. Heals the skin: helps heal disorders like psoriasis, eczema, acne, skin fungus and infections. Sunlight triggers Vitamin D production, which helps reduce inflammation within the body. Vitamin D and UV rays can help clear and prevent psoriasis plaques. Phototherapy (light therapy), is regularly exposing the skin to ultraviolet light, has been shown to effectively treat psoriasis.
3. Sunlight + whole foods heal breast cancer: Dr. Zane Kime was able to cure breast cancer through nutrition and sunbathing
4. Lower cholesterol: the sun converts high cholesterol in the blood into steroid & sex hormones needed for reproduction. Without sunlight, substances are converted into cholesterol. Sun expose has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease as opposed to Vitamin D supplements.
5. Lower blood pressure: A study from the Universities of Southampton & Edinburgh found sun exposure significantly lower blood pressure by increasing levels of nitric oxide.
6. Cleanse blood and blood vessels: UVB light has been found to prevent atherosclerosis (hardened arteries)
7. Increased oxygen in the blood: Poor blood circulation and low oxygenation levels make it difficult for the body to absorb vitamin D….this creates a cycle. A lack of vitamin D impairs oxygenation, while poor oxidation, leads to low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to hypertension, strokes and heart attack. Sunlight aids the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to tissues and bloodstream (similar to the effects of exercise). This also helps aid in asthma relief.
8. Immune system health: white blood cells (lymphocytes) increase with sunlight, helping the body fight infections
9. Increases growth & height in growing children: studies prove that the amount of sun exposure within the first few months, effects the height of the person
10. Cure depression: Artificial lights emit 150-600 lux; meanwhile sunshine can deliver 100,000 lux. By staying indoors all day, we naturally deprive ourselves of this.
With spring in full effect and summer around the corner, I encourage you to get outside and soak up some sun! It will give you energy and boost your mood! Take advantage of the free medicine the earth provides.
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