The Practice, Science & History
Forest Therapy and/or Forest Bathing is inspired by the Japanese practice called Shinrin Yoku which translates to 'Bathing in the atmosphere of the forest'. Prescribed and studied in Japan since the 1980s, this ancient restorative practice is regaining ground across the globe and for good reason!
As a species we have evolved alongside the plants and animals that co-inhabit our planet. Recent history has found 'us' as a species living in increasingly urban dwellings and thus taking us away from the original womb of Nature that supported our health as a society through reciprocity. Our DNA still recognizes the forest and wild areas as home and in this respect home is a place of healing. There is a long tradition of spending time in Nature that invites restorative interactions through many cultures throughout the world. Our ancestors knew this well and not only benefited from the medicine freely offered by the wild, but also offered their own medicine back.
The land has evolved with us and in a way that benefits from our mutual relationship with it. When we are mindfully cultivating a connected relationship with Nature we begin to understand and embrace the interconnectedness between us and all beings. It is here that we find the roots of sustainability, for ourselves and our bountiful planet.
Reported benefits from a guided Forest Therapy walk include:
Reduced cortisol levels (aka the stress hormone)
Lowered blood pressure, heart rate
Decrease in sympathetic nerve activity and INCREASE in the parasympathetic system (aka rest & digest) thus promoting relaxation, calmness and often much more restful sleeps
Strengthens the immune system & increases Natural Killer cell activity (NK cells; Cancer and tumour fighting)
Improves focus and cognitive thinking
Improves creativity, intuition and interconnectedness
Strengthens relationships with self, others and nature
Accelerates recovery from illness or injury
Are you thinking, “Wait I’m outside all the time and I don’t feel like I’m fully
experiencing all of these benefits….??”
That’s where a certified guide comes in, that’s what the PRACTICE of forest therapy is…….
A different way of being in Nature
An immersive exploration where your senses and childlike curiosity run the show!
Allowing your other overworked systems to take a break while your entire being benefits
from the “play”.
Fully open and receiving to the many gifts the forest shares with us, from the fragrant
phytoncides abundantly floating in the air to the faint glow of what may have been a fairy flying
by, in the corner of your eye at dusk, and everything in between. The forest force is budding
and bountiful, waiting for you to come reconnect, indulge and enjoy the multitude of benefits.
The Guide's Roll
A certified forest therapy guide trained with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy has studied and mentored within a specific framework to provide safe, supportive and connective walks. Professional principles and policies ensure your immersive forest experience follows a preferred sequence that has been studied and proven to help participants slow down and connect seamlessly and naturally to mother earth and her healing.
Participants are walked through a series of invitations and all are flexible in a, “Do what is comfortable for you” way. Invitations are thoughtfully crafted to help open your senses, bring you in to the present and support meaningful interaction with the more than human world.
Simply put, Julia opens the doors to the therapy the forest has to offer. Helping to facilitate the connection between participants and nature in a gentle way that leaves plenty of room for individual interpretation and experience.
The Participant's Roll
Forest Therapy is basically for everyone and easily adaptable to the capacity of the group. Participants do not need to be of any specific fitness ability because this is NOT a hike. Often less than 1km is covered in a 2-3 hour walk and our pace is always very slow and leisurely. Participants are asked to show up on time and dressed for the weather, the more comfortable you are the more likely your forest connection experience will be an epic one.
What People Are Saying
“It is a truly amazing opportunity to see the forest in a new light even if you already spend time there. It will give you tools to look at Nature in a new way and truly find relaxation and time to reflect”
"I believe everyone, young and old need s to experience a forest walk. Becoming aware of your surrounding and your response to Nature and the environment around you. You won’t be disappointed ♥"
"Don’t second guess doing this walk. Rain and mosquitoes are part of the experience. You will come away with your heart renewed wanting to do it again and again."
Want to learn more about Forest Therapy and review some of the growing collection of studies that confirm more of what we’ve most likely already known when it comes to the healing power of Nature?
"Phytoncides are airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities which help plants fight disease. When people breathe in these chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells or NK. These cells kill tumor- and virus-infected cells in our bodies. In one study, increased NK activity from a 3-day, 2-night forest bathing trip lasted for more than 30 days. Japanese researchers are currently exploring whether exposure to forests can help prevent certain kinds of cancer."*
*Excerpt from: https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html