Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Like me, you must have heard your parents repeat this saying. It was only later in life I understand this truism when I was studying medicine at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). It was at the same time discovered sun yoga that became my miracle saviour, alleviating my asthma symptoms. An estimated one billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups, stay out of the sun and develop a vitamin D deficiency. Thanks to our modern lifestyle, air-conditioned, air-tight days, we have limited exposure
to sunlight making us deficient. This spirals into creating imbalances of the biological clock. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children and osteoporosis and osteomalacia in adults. Further, this deficiency is associated with increased risks of cancers, depression, mental diseases, cardiovascular disease, infections, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disease and diabetes mellitus. Our biological clock is located in the pineal gland. In the darkness, it produces hormone melatonin. Melatonin has restorative functions and induces sleep. Lack of it causes sleep disorders, mental diseases, hypertension and quickens ageing.
Exposure to artificial lighting leads to a change in the function of our biological clock. It leads
to lesser melatonin production at night causing sleep disorders. The pineal gland that has to be trained properly may understand artificial light as sunlight and inhibit sleep. In such conundrum, it is best to go back to the sun with the help of sun yoga.
Sun yoga is a combination of pranayama, surya namaskar, sun trataka (sun gazing) and meditation at sunrise.
It starts with five minutes of slow alternate nostril breathing (anulom-vilom pranayama) while looking at the rising sun. This opens all the subtle energy channels of the body. After this, Surya Namaskar is practised for 10 minutes. It is a very effective asana to improve the physical, mental and spiritual condition of a person. Then in either si ing or standing position, start gazing at the sun for 10-15 minutes. Gazing has to be done with a sense of gratitude to sun and earth to receive maximum bene ts. Close his eyes and meditate for 15 minutes. End the 45-minute session by rubbing of hands, cupping of the eyes and slowly opening the eyes. It is advisable to expose at least 20 per cent body surface to direct sunlight so as to produce a sufficient amount of vitamin D in the body.
The process also helps improve the eyesight, concentration, alertness, lowers stress, improves the mood and corrects the biological clock. This, when combined with the consumption of organic foods, can have a great impact on the well being of the person. Sun yoga is hypothesised to provide enough vitamin D for our needs at no cost. Consumption of oral vitamin D has a risk of toxicity.
Excessive exposure to sunlight will not result in vitamin D intoxication because both pre-vitamin D and vitamin D are photolysed to several non-calcemic photo products. This is the advantage of Sun yoga as a public health tool to combat vitamin D deficiency and biological clock imbalance.