Forest Bathing - Good for Your Body & Mind

Forest Bathing - Good for Your Body & Mind

Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese practice that’s often translated as Forest Bathing. Like yoga and meditation, it’s an Eastern practice that has been gaining traction in the West and helps you to ground yourself in the present moment.

The most basic way to practice Forest Bathing is to walk through a forest or woods in a slow and leisurely manner. Best not to bring devices or other distractions - if you must, keep them tucked away, out of sight and mind.

As you walk, bring your attention to one sense at a time and try to drop as deeply into that sense perception as you can. Think of tunnel vision - as you hone in on one sense, the others soften into the background. 

Maybe start by noticing the sounds you’re hearing. Notice the layers that are created by how far away the source of sound is. Notice the various volumes and depths, repetitions and patterns. 

Then shift your awareness to the smells that you’re smelling. Take in the sweetness of different flowers. The damp, earthiness of the forest floor. Notice how the smells come and go, sharpen and fade.

Next use your eyes to fully observe whatever’s in your field of vision. Instead of our habitual, distracted way of looking but not seeing, do your best to focus. Notice the big picture and the small details. Pay attention to the colors, the shapes, the perspectives.

Now tune in to your skin. Feel the tickle of shrubs as you brush past them or the chill of an early spring breeze as goosebumps rise on your arms. Gently rub your fingers over bark and feel how it feels on your skin.

Finally, check in with your mouth. Maybe there’s a lingering stale taste of coffee from earlier in the day or maybe there’s an absence of taste. Just notice whatever you can perceive. 

On the page this might sound boring, but outside, amongst the trees, this simple act of immersing yourself in nature will renew your spirit and leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed and grounded. 

The obvious benefits you get from long walks is well known, but adding the forest setting and sensory awareness amplifies and adds to these. Studies have shown that Forest Bathing can lead to decreases in pulse rate, blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol, leaving you feeling less stressed and anxious. Forests contain negative ions and when we breathe them in, they promote positive effects on our health, mood, mental clarity, cognitive functioning and energy levels.

Forest Bathing has also been shown to enhance sleep and increase immunity. Perhaps the most surprising benefit is that Forest bathing has been shown to increase our levels of natural killer (NK) cells - the white blood cells that destroy infected and diseased cells, such as cancer cells. Benefits start to accrue after 20 minutes, increase the longer you spend in the forest, and are said to last for up to 30 days.

You can Forest Bathe at any time of year, but spring seems like the perfect time to start!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.