The Healing Power of Sun Exposure

The Healing Power of Sun Exposure

Spring is in the air - time to catch some rays! With warmer weather, we are itching for more time spent in nature under the sun.

Did you know that sun exposure is actually a significant part of Ayurveda? Known as Surya Prakashana, responsible sun exposure supports your rhythms and provides a powerful source of solar energy that balances your doshas.

Take a deeper look into why sun exposure is valued in Ayurveda and how it aligns with modern science!

Is Sun Exposure Healthy or a Hazard?

Ever since the correlation between UV rays and skin cancer, people have viewed the sun as something to be avoided at all costs. However, there is a growing body of research that shows the sun provides a huge range of health benefits. More research needs to be done, but some evidence shows the sun holds potential to help prevent diseases such as colon/breast/prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and diabetes. This is not due to Vitamin D alone, but is also associated with immunomodulation, the formation of nitric oxide, melatonin, serotonin, and the effect of sunlight on circadian clocks [1].

While you do want to take precautions and avoid sunburn, appropriate sun exposure is actually a huge health and immunity booster. In fact, studies have shown that insufficient sun exposure may be responsible for 340,000 deaths in the United States and 480,000 deaths in Europe per year [2].

Ayurveda, Sun, and Natural Rhythms

In Ayurveda, the sun is considered a source of vital energy (Prana) that can balance the body and mind. It is believed that the sun primarily governs the Pitta dosha, which means that it can both balance and aggravate Pitta:

Balancing Pitta: Moderate exposure to the sun, especially during cooler times like early morning or late afternoon, can help balance Pitta dosha. This gentle exposure is believed to enhance digestion, promote clarity of mind, and invigorate the body without overheating.

Aggravating Pitta: Excessive or intense sun exposure, particularly during the peak hours of midday, can aggravate Pitta dosha. This can manifest as increased heat in the body, inflammation, skin sensitivity, and irritability.

The timing and duration of sun exposure are based on an individual’s constitution:

  1. Morning Sun (Ushas Surya):

    Early morning sun exposure, especially during the period around sunrise, is considered particularly beneficial. This gentle exposure is believed to be calming and refreshing, helping to balance the doshas, especially Pitta and Vata.

  2. Midday Sun (Madhyahna Surya):

    The midday sun is stronger and can be more intense. Ayurveda suggests avoiding direct midday sun exposure, especially during peak hours, to prevent overheating and imbalances.

  3. Late Afternoon Sun (Aparna Surya):

    Late afternoon sun exposure, closer to sunset, is considered beneficial for Kapha dosha individuals as it can help invigorate and energize.

Wellness Experts on the Role of Sun Exposure to Health

Natural practices rooted in ancient traditions like Ayurveda are being increasingly validated by modern scientific research and touted by doctors and health influencers.

Prominent wellness figures, such as Andrew Huberman and Mark Hymen, have recently been emphasizing the importance of sun exposure in their routines. They advocate for mindful exposure to natural light for well-being and the positive effects on brain and body. Huberman also addresses the benefits of natural light exposure for eye health, including the regulation of pupil size and the release of certain chemicals that support visual function.

Many integrative medicine practitioners, like Deepak Chopra and Dr. Aviva Romm, discuss the holistic benefits of sun exposure, often highlighting the role of sunlight in supporting energy and balance. Other influencers such as Chris Kresser and Dr. Josh Axe advocate for responsible sun exposure, emphasizing the importance of vitamin D synthesis and its impact on immune function and disease prevention.

Benefits of Sun Exposure

  • Vitamin D Synthesis: Sun exposure triggers the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin, which is vital for bone health, immune function, and mood regulation.
  • Balancing Doshas: Controlled exposure to sunlight is believed to help balance the doshas, promoting overall health and vitality.
  • Boosting Agni (Digestive Fire): Sunlight is associated with improving digestion (Agni) and metabolism in Ayurveda.
  • Mood Enhancement: Sunlight exposure can boost serotonin levels in the brain, improving mood and combating seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
  • Circadian Rhythm Regulation: Sunlight exposure helps regulate the body's internal clock (circadian rhythm), influencing sleep patterns and overall well-being.

Skin Care After Sun Exposure

  1. Moisturize with Herbal Oils

    Massage the skin with herbal oils like coconut, almond, or sesame oil to replenish moisture and support skin recovery.

  2. Hydrate and Cool Down

    Drink plenty of water and consume hydrating foods like fresh fruits and vegetables to restore hydration levels and cool the body.

  3. Avoid Harsh Chemicals

    Avoid using harsh chemical-based skincare products after sun exposure, as they can further irritate sunburned skin. Opt for natural, gentle skincare options.

  4. Eat Cooling Foods

    Include cooling foods in your diet such as cucumber, watermelon, and mint to balance Pitta dosha and support skin healing from within.

Your relationship with the sun doesn’t have to be one of fear and avoidance. You are nature, and nature holds the best medicine. If you take the right precautions, the sun can become a healing part of your daily routine that re-energizes and balances your body.

Ready to detox for the coming summer months? Let us help you get your best foot forward so that nothing slows you down!