“Pass the Trees Please” written by Laura Burdo.
Talk a Walk on the Wild Side
The forest I go
To lose myself
And find my soul
It’s trendy and it’s the new craze.
It’s Nature meets Mindfulness.
Maybe, it’s not new to you…
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest Bathing is the practice of taking a short, leisurely visit to a forest to improve mental health and to boost physical immunity.
(And not to be confused with an energetic walk or hike.)
Shinrin-Yoku (森 浴)… and What It Can Do For You
The practice originated in Japan back in the early 1990s. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries coined the term Shinrin-yoku (森 浴) – which translates roughly as forest bathing.
(Rumor has it that some practitioners actually practice this ritual au natural. Gulp! But, keep your shirt on, folks… and your shorts and shoes, too, please!)
Why Go Wild?!?
This practice is proven by scientists to benefit physical and mental health as it helps lower heart rate, blood pressure, reduce stress- hormone production, boost immunity and mood, and improve overall feelings of well-being.
In addition to that impressive list of benefits, quite uniquely, recent research showed significant increases in human natural killer cell activity after forest bathing. And its positive effects last a month following each weekend in the woods.
The positive effects last a month after woods- walking! Now, that’s sumthin’ to PIP about.
Let Me Be Your Guide
The aim of forest bathing is to slow
down and become immersed in the
Tune in to the smells, textures,
tastes and sights of the forest.
Breathe deeply and take in the
surroundings by using all our senses.
Close your eyes and just listen.
Then upon opening your eyes,
imagine that you are standing on
holy ground, in a magical place,
and as if you are seeing the world
for the very first time.
The Benefits of Forest Bathing
Many health care providers are incorporating forest therapy as an organized stress- reduction strategy. There’s no question that stress takes a terrible toll in the United States; a 2016 study found that work-related stress alone accounts for up to $190 billion in healthcare costs each.
Fortunately, there continues to be a growing interest in the US and in the UK. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to organize Woods Walking group!
Warning! Helicopter Trainer on Patrol
Now, at the expense of sounding like a helicopter-trainer, may I make a few suggestions?
Consider possible pit-falls and precautions pertaining to the terrain, weather, and wildlife. (Geez, I sound over-protective, I know.)
OK bear with me… maybe bring along some basic First Aid items. Oh, and don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray!!
(Whew, what a real nag, right?)
Well, at least I refrained from hinting about leaving a breadcrumb trail! 😒
What Would Joe Do (WWJD)?
And now, let’s get back to Joe.
Joseph Pilates said, “By all means, never fail to get all the sunlight and fresh air you can!”
As a child, Joe would lie in the woods for hours, hiding and watching how the animals moved, how the mother taught the young. This helped him understand natural movement and how to mimic it within the human form.
This brings to mind how many fundamental Yoga asanas and Tai Chi moves mimic animals – and these practices also reflect respect for nature.
Who doesn’t luv Tree and Up-Dog? How about the Sun Salutation Series?
I like Pulling-Up-Earth’s-Energy and Cloud-Walking in Tai Chi.
You may have your own favorites, too.
So save the favs … but grab a friend or two to do some Forest Bathing.
So what are you waiting for?
And may the Forest be with you.
The Pilates Preacher
P.S. To hear more, please be sure to sign up to the 7 Heavenly PIPs.