All the reasons why your physical and mental health will love forest bathing

True or false: the average British person spends 90% of their time indoors. Shocked at first, but in the end you may not be surprised to hear that in a world where digital is at the forefront, there is truth behind statistics. For many of us, the unfortunate reality is that most of our time is spent with screens or performing obligations that keep us away from nature, and as a result our health is deteriorating. affected.

Not all is lost, however, as research in the UK has revealed that spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is linked to improved health and well-being, whether that’s the combination. Walk through the park to the shops or spend dedicated time absorbing your surroundings in the woods. If your ears are pricking at the thought that stress levels are reduced, your immune system is boosted and blood pressure is reduced, we can present: forest bathing. Thanks to BasubuOne-stop shop for the world’s best yoga and meditation retreats, Charlotte of Team Zoella was able to try it out first-hand- keep reading for more details:

But first, what is forest bathing?

Based on National Geography“Terms shinrin-yoku (“Bathing in the forest” or “enjoying the atmosphere in the forest”) emerged in Japan in the 1980s and is promoted as both physiological and psychological exercise. The aim is twofold: to provide an ecological antidote to the exhaustion caused by the technology boom, and to inspire residents to reconnect with and protect the country’s forests.”

The concept arose after scientific studies by the Japanese government found that two hours of exploring in the woods can lower blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, and improve concentration and memory – something quite powerful. Studies have also focused on phytoncides – chemicals secreted by plants and trees to protect themselves from insects and germs – in humans that boost the immune system thanks to their antibacterial properties. Breathing in forest air has also been shown to increase the levels of natural killer (NK) cells in our blood, which are used to fight infections and cancer. This data has led the Japanese government to introduce ‘shinrin-yoku’ as part of a national health program and an important cornerstone of preventive medicine.

Forest bathing is not exercise, climbing 10,000 steps or conquering a new path to climb a mountain, but simply being immersed in nature and letting go of the five senses – sight, hearing, taste sense, smell and touch. By focusing on the senses, we bridge the gap between ourselves and the natural world.

The author of the book Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing, Dr. Qing Li advises that no matter how beautiful your surroundings are, you don’t need to be tech-savvy to capture the scene. “Make sure you leave your phone and camera behind.” Li said. “You will go aimlessly and slowly. You don’t need any equipment. Let your body be your guide. Listen to where it wants to take you. Follow your nose. And take your time. Doesn’t matter if you’re not going anywhere. You won’t go anywhere. You are enjoying the sounds, the smells and the sights of nature and letting go of the woods.”

If you find it difficult to connect with other purposeful relaxation activities that reduce stress on the mind (such as meditation), a forest bath can be a great alternative to combining the two. the two elements of mindfulness and meditation. While traditional meditation is encouraged to let your thoughts go in and out of your awareness, mindfulness focuses on the benefits of being actively aware of your surroundings and sensations. yours in this moment. Bathing in the forest is the perfect combination of the two, creating a welcoming and somewhat rare opportunity for both of you to check-in with yourself, to let your day-to-day thoughts pass and focus on Beauty is often right under our noses.

Would you like to try it yourself?

A step-by-step guide to bathing in the woods

  1. Choose a forest, near or far, to explore and know your route while leaving your phone behind.
  2. Focus on the breath, making sure the exhalation is longer than the inhalation to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and initiate the relaxation process.
  3. Wander around the area and take in your surroundings, stopping where you feel required and raising your awareness.
  4. Close your eyes for 30 seconds, then slowly open them, look up from the ground and slowly draw in your surroundings. First, observe any movement or anything that your eyes are drawn to on the ground, then raise your eyes a little higher and repeat until you are looking at the sky and treetops. Raise your awareness of how the clouds move, pay attention to the branches and leaves in the canopy, and notice any bodily sensations, sensations, and emotions as they come. Next focus on your feet and any feeling of being grounded and connected to the Earth.
  5. Continue walking, pause, and reconnect with your surroundings when you feel required. Remember to connect with your senses, listening to birdsong or rustling leaves. Perhaps try touching the bark or the soil under your feet, or smell some flowers if you can spot them.
  6. End your experience with some more directed deep breaths and try to give new ground to city life as you adjust back to urban noise and its triggers.

While part of the beauty of forest bathing is its ease of access and ease of doing it alone, guided tours can be the perfect way to allow you to completely disconnect from reality. open your mind and spirit with the guidance of others. Charlotte from Team Zoella is kindly invited to join the jungle bathing and yoga experience through Basubu, an online marketplace for vacations and wellness retreats, hosted by Xenia of Brighton Yoga.

“The itinerary looks idyllic, with plans to start the day early with some Qigong-inspired moves and short walks before stopping for a laid-back yoga practice. This is followed by a further hike through the open Sussex fields around Stanmer Park, heading to more secluded areas of the woods for the full bathing experience. Luck was with us in terms of weather, entering the forest on a clear sunny day in late April just as the bluefish appeared in full force, covering areas of the forest floor that were visible to the naked eye. .

Since there was a lot of planning in the schedule, the whole experience took about 4-5 hours, which definitely took me deep into the jungle bathing and practicing the sensations that come with being in nature. Having such a long experience certainly has its pros and cons as it has given its time to fully adjust away from the digital world and offers a full, noticeable detox from technology. As for cons, it’s like a double-edged sword. While meeting new and like-minded people is a lovely aspect of an activity like this, the length of the experience has naturally encouraged conversation and minds to start wandering, which I feel found to inhibit some of the mindfulness benefits of solitude and modulation from the feeling of enveloping.

For me, the most fundamental part of the experience and the part that really allowed me to sink into the good vibes of nature was the line of yoga we practice at one of the rolling schools that surround Stanmer. We were extremely lucky with the weather on this particular Sunday and I must say that Shavasana in the sunshine has to be the best feeling ever. when. I didn’t think the different textures would feel noticeable under an outdoor yoga mat, and although long grass makes it more difficult for a downward facing dog (which is not my area of ​​expertise). me), it offers a great opportunity to feel more in tune with nature, get some vitamin D and take the stress out of everyday life. For any yogi who has never practiced outdoors, I highly recommend it!

I don’t know what Qigong is and what this will add to the practice of jungle bathing, and for those who are also in the dark, here’s what you need to know…”

According to National Center for Complementary and Integrative HealthQi-Gong, pronounced “chi gong,” was developed in China thousands of years ago as part of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves the use of exercises to optimize the energy within the body, mind and spirit, with the goal of improving and maintaining health and well-being. Qigong has both psychological and physical components, including regulation of the mind, breathing, movement, and body posture. Breathing becomes slow, long and deep, movements often light and smooth, aimed at relaxation and mind regulation including focusing one’s attention and visualization.

“Although it sometimes feels unnatural to move around freely (and often with my eyes closed), in a public setting I find myself able to let go of the daily pressures, worries and insecurities thanks to in a group. and flow through each movement without worry. Doing so is really invigorating and removes the pressures that exist about how we see each other and simply ‘become’. If I remove one thing from experience in general, it is that we often have an innate wisdom and inner peace that with a little work we can return to every now and then. It can be harder to find at times than elsewhere, but bathing in the woods and being in nature allows you to re-center yourself, balance your nervous system, and return to a state of inner calm more easily.

Overall, I enjoy spending this time in nature far more than I did – and set aside a specific part of my week to enjoy the benefits of being in the middle of a forest. I am left feeling calmer, refreshed and with a newfound appreciation for the well-being benefits that are often overlooked on our doorstep. They say nature is healing, and it’s true! ”

To sign up for your very own jungle bathing experience with Brighton Yoga, check out upcoming events on Basubu, or browse through their amazing choice about wellness retreats and experiences around the world to ensure a slice of peace for your mind, body and soul. Namaste!

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