Yesterday I was sitting and chatting with my sister and a friend about the power of nature. About the harmony and balance that nature can offer us when everyday life gets too overwhelming and stormy.
One of my favourite hobbies in nature is Shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing”. You might have heard me speaking about this on our yikes (yogic hikes) several times. Shinrin-Yoku is the art of connecting with nature through our senses. This practise has helped me find even a deeper connection with nature and also the wisdom of forest. Forest, that has always been like a second mother to me… a sacred place, the paradise of healing, that never fails to to fill me with a sense of wonder and happiness.
What is Shinrin-Yoku?
Shinrin-yoku was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of precautionary health care in Japanese medicine. Researchers in Japan have established scientific proves on the health benefits of spending time in forest and now their research is helping to establish shinrin-yoku and forest therapy throughout the world.
I just cannot help but love the concept of it! If a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way, there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits. While walking we smell, we see, we touch, we taste and we hear the nature. It truly helps to open the senses, and every walk is a unique experience. Great thing about forest bathing is that it’s pretty much possibly where ever there’s nature, either it’s forest, a city park or beach, these all are great natural environments that help us open up our senses.
Benefits of Shinrin-Yoku:
For past several decades there have been many scientific studies that are demonstrating the healing effects of simply being in wild and natural areas. The scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:
- Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells. Part of our immune system’s way of fighting cancer.
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
- Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
- Increased energy level
- Improved sleep
How to get started?
First of all, leave the technology behind! Yes, phones, cameras, etc. You don’t need any devices where you’re going. Allow your body to be your guide. Learn to listen to yourself, follow your nose. Let it take you to the place where you feel comfortable, where you can heal. Don’t rush! Remember this is not a hike. The slower you go, the more you can notice things. Don’t plan! It doesn’t matter if you don’t get anywhere, cause you’re not going anywhere. You are just going to walk aimlessly, calmly, opening up your senses, your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands and feet, allowing the nature to get in.
Shinrin-Yoku is all about reconnecting, sensing the nature. So feel your surroundings, gently stroke a tree trunk or a leaf, feel the texture, dip your toes in a river, or just lie down on a grass. Take in a deep breath and taste the fresh air. Smell a flower, or the nature around you in general. Open your eyes to what’s around you, to sunlight filtering through the leaves or to forest bursting into green at spring time. Listen to the water flowing over rocks, the birds or the breeze. Cross that bridge to happiness by opening up also your sixth sense, drink in the beauty of the forest, bathe in the peace and tranquility.
Sometimes we just struggle with slowing down and have forgotten how to stand still. Sometimes we need a guide to help us to get connected again, and that’s what we do on yikes. I will offer exercises and instructions to use senses to connect, help to unlock the power of forest. It doesn’t matter if you are fit or not, we don’t rush, merely we learn how to let forest in again. Also a guide will plan the trails, so it takes away the stress of thinking about the destination or trail, allowing you to enjoy, reflect and pause.
Find the upcoming Yikes here:
Love and light