Welcome to day twenty two of my 30 Days of Ayurveda series! Throughout these blogs and videos, I will be sharing some upbeat thoughts and wellness tips, as well as some Ayurvedic tricks and food recommendations to help you lead a balanced life.
If it is safe and accessible to do so, I would strongly recommend that you find a small forest or area of woodland near you and go out into nature. Walking in the woods brings an immediate calm to the senses, boosts the immune system, and helps to clear the mind. The difference with how you feel inwardly can change your complete perspective on life!
The Japanese, in particular, have done a lot of research into forest bathing and forest walking, as well as how they affect the immune system and reduce the negative physiological effects of stress.
What is Shinrin-Yoku?
The term forest bathing originated in Japan during the 1980s. It was a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku, which roughly translates ‘forest bathing’ or ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’. A government initiative to improve the wellbeing of stressed workers, it required participants to breathe deeply and open their senses to the forest in order to revive the body and spirit. While Japan is credited with the term shinrin-yoku, the practice of forest bathing is not new, with many cultures long recognising its importance.
In this modern world (and particularly during the pandemic), people are increasingly spending their lives indoors. However, we are actually designed to be connected to the natural world.
You may think you are already practicing forest bathing, but simply going for a walk in the woods is not enough: it might be a brisk walk, or you may be thinking about work. Instead, think of forest bathing as mindful time spent amongst the trees for wellbeing purposes.
How to practice forest bathing
You don’t need any devices, so leave your phone and camera behind. Walk aimlessly and slowly, and let your body be your guide. Take your time, and remember to savour the sounds, smells and sights of your surroundings. Move very slowly, touching the trees, observing their colours and patterns, and breathing deeply. It will give your mind and body time to slow down. Let the life giving oxygen from the trees feed you and your Prana. Then feed the trees back with your unwanted carbon dioxide. Allow the synergy and connection between you and the forest to grow.
Trees communicate with each other though their pheromones and through their underground mycelium networks. We communicate with them through our breath.
Therefore, when we come into the forest, we can also benefit from this connection we get with nature: the sound of the trees, the birds, and any life in the area. For me, the forest is where I get strong feelings of strength and vitality. I love roaming free with my children; exploring the undergrowth, taking in deep breaths, feeling small, and simply marvelling at the majesty of the forest. There really is nothing like recharging in the woods!
Find out more
If you want to know more about the power of the forest I would thoroughly recommend The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. It is a superb read!
Over the next 30 days, I will be sharing even more tips and tricks to help you build some great Ayurvedic routines. Hopefully, they will soon be imbedded in your life and you can progress with them. Be sure to let me know how you’re getting on, and why not share how you like to explore the woods? Find me on Instagram @anneheigham and on YouTube.