Thursday, 9 February 2012

Let The Sunshine In

The alarm goes off. I roll over, it's time for morning yoga. No need to have a wash, or get changed into suitable clothing. Loose PJ's and bare feet just right for the job. I grab my mat, unravel it, and smooth it flat. The living room magically transformed into a yoga studio. More light, space and bigger windows. If we played i-spy, I would tell you I could see with my little eye a pub garden below, brick buildings ahead, and sky. Aeroplanes, clearly defined, streak across and leave a trail behind. Standing tall at the top of the mat, feet hip-width, arms held by my side. A deep inhale, arms stretched out wide, in an arc, to reach above my head. Palms gently touch. Prayer. Exhale. Arms brought down, body folding forward. Forward bend. Release... Rolling up, hands at heart centre; palms pressed together again in prayer. This sequence, the same series of moves, beginning over...

The sun salute it's called in yoga. Welcoming the sun. A salutation to morning practise. Homage offered, paid to the sun. Time to move on to more challenging poses. Postures to wake me up, clear my head and stretch me out. Plank, downward facing dog, and cobra. Lunging into chariot. Warrior... Seated, legs crossed to finish off. Eyes closed, concentrating on my breath. Let go... I feel refreshed, ready for the day ahead. This feeling doesn't always last... Cloud cover. Overcast.

According to research, I'm not alone. Depressed. Gloom descending on all of us due to insufficient light. Vitamin D deficient. An estimated 40% of Brits lacking the sunshine vitamin. Sunny D, induced by sunlight. The skin greedily sucking up a ray of light. Vitamin D promoting healthy bones and enhancing mental health. Parched, we are at risk. Soft boned and low spirited. Infectious. A pandemic. The world appears shrouded in grey mist. In permanent shade from brightness.

Is there anything we can do to change this? The government's response has been to step up its supplementation campaign. Consume fortified foods, eggs, and oily fish if you're a pescetarian. With such guidelines in place, the government anticipates a happiness boost. Their current study wrapped up: Vitamin D makes people happy. While nutrition plays an important role in many of the world's health epidemics, food alone in this case, is not effective. Ministers should have also replied: “Get outside! Walk, take exercise.” Too many of us sat inside under artificial lights. Outside, excessively covering up with sun protection creams. Yes, skin cancer is a risk, but we've taken advice to extremes. Limited exposure, a little bit of sun, proved good.

Continue to block out the light and this headline could make front page news: Brits say it's not our fault. We have the wrong kind of sun.