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it’s winter: catch some healing sun

September 24, 2012

SAD is not simply a fleeting emotion felt during long winter months. Seasonal affective disorder is a a form of depression caused by insufficient amounts of sunlight during the darkness of winter and long hours in office environments. SAD takes its toll on energy levels and temperament by leaving us depleted, withdrawn and solemn. I personally notice the change when the clocks fall back every October and it is suddenly dusk at 3pm.  I then find it easy to make it a habit of napping every afternoon for 2 hours (although sometimes it’s restorative and just what the doctor ordered!) and to feel hopeless for a reason that I can’t quite pinpoint.

surfing yoga sun happyThis year, I will hit the heat down south in November (I’m leading a yoga and surf retreat) to stave off the edge of a droning winter.  Although my life revolves around yoga, which can be incredible for keeping endorphins high, I still spend much of my winter indoors and committed to make a break for the sun. I know that Vancouver rain is just around the corner…

I have toiled for a long time about sun exposure and am by no means an advocate of baking all day in harsh UV rays. I have seen family members undergo skin cancer treatments and myself deal with reactive eyes in bright sunlight.  My skin especially is sensitive to sunblocks that are laden with toxic chemicals, often aggravating my eczema.

However, when I allow myself to be fed a minimal amount of sunlight at low times in the year as well as a good blast of heat in the coldest days, I feel nourished and rejuvenated. I was grateful to find the information below about why, in many the cases, the sun’s light is healing for the human nervous system, physiology and peace of mind. Read on..

Healing Benefits of the Sun (adapted from Marcus John Felicetti)

–       The sun’s light kills bad bacteria. The German soldiers after WW1 knew of the discoveries that had been made in 1903 by the Nobel Prize winner, Niels Finsen. They used sunlight to disinfect and heal wounds.

–       Sunlight has a beneficial effect on skin disorders such as psoriasis, acne, eczema and fungal infections of the skin

–       Sunlight lowers cholesterol. The sun converts high cholesterol in the blood into steroid hormones and the sex hormones we need for reproduction. In the absence of sunlight, the opposite happens; substances convert to cholesterol.

–       The sun’s rays lower blood pressure. Even a single exposure significantly lowers blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure. On the other hand, pharmaceutical drugs such as Statins have side effects, such as robbing the body of Coenzyme Q10. Co Q10 is essential for cellular and heart energy.

–       Sunlight increases oxygen content in human blood. And, it also enhances the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to the tissues; very similar to the effects of exercise. The sun has a great effect on stamina, fitness and muscular development.

–       Sunlight builds the immune system. The white blood cells which increase with sun exposure, are called lymphocytes, and these play a major role in defending the body against infections.

–       Sunlight can cure depression. The noon sunshine can deliver 100,000 lux. When we sit in offices for the best part of the day, out of the sun, under neon and artificial lights (150-600 lux), we are depriving ourselves of the illumination of nature. Sunlight deprivation can cause a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression. It is more common in winter months, but also common in people who work long hours in office buildings.

*** I hope you can soak up the happy rays this winter with me! Join me in Mexico from Nov 9-17th for yoga, surf and nourishing meals.

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