Forest Bathing: Tapping Into The Healing Powers Of Nature

forest bathingThere are so many things that I love about the Japanese culture, and I now have something else to add to the list: Shinrin-yoku. The literal translation is “forest bath,” which is a beautifully descriptive name for a leisurely walk in the woods.

The Japanese are so fond of the activity that for more than four decades Shinrin-yoku has been hailed as a nationally recognized relaxation activity and antidote to stress.

And if you’ve ever taken a forest bath, you know first-hand how nurturing it feels. There is now scientific proof that it is a healing activity.

Researchers have discovered that one reason being bathed in the forest air is therapeutic is because it is infused with phytoncides. These are airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves from rotting and insects, and seem to also benefit humans. Research studies have found that these chemicals boost our immunity.

Other studies have found that forest bathing lowers cortisol {a stress hormone}, blood pressure, pulse rate, and activates the relaxation response in the central nervous system.

And it doesn’t take long to reap the benefits. Research participants took walks in the woods that only amounted to 11-21 minutes.

restorative yoga poses

 


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