Take a moment and step into a little wooded area, it can even be in your own yard or just a short walk from your home. Take a deep breath. How do you feel? Instantly calm. rejuvenating? Clearer focus? You just feel good when you are surrounded by trees and nature.
While we have known this for a long time, we now have science to confirm this for us. The Japanese have studied and written about this since the 1980s; what they call Shinrin-yoku, which is Japanese for “Forest Bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”.
Walking into a forest has an immediate calming effect on your nervous system; heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate all slow down, reducing stress. This is called the parasympathetic response ~ the calming side of our nervous system takes over and relaxes our entire body.
This is a very healthy state to be in, when we are what is called “Parasympathetic Dominant” our body operates at its healthiest; immune function is strong but not imbalanced, digestion is better and we absorb more nutrients from our food, our organs can better regenerate and do their jobs, and when we are parasympathetic dominant we mentally function better and clearer, and we are happier.
In fact some of the latest research on heart attacks points to the fact that most heart attacks occur when the stress response or sympathetic nervous system has over-rode (or is stronger than) the parasympathetic nervous system and the body can not calm itself down. You want to strengthen your Parasympathetic nervous system like it is a muscle; keeping the calming side of your nervous system stronger than your stress response just may protect you from a heart issue.
Forest bathing is your de-stress key. Don’t live close to the woods? Take a walk outside, find a little grove of trees sit down for 5 minutes with the trees, you will feel refreshed.
Can’t find a little grove of trees? Lean your spine against a tree for a few moments; feel the grounding and calming effect the trees give us. Breathe deep as stand there one with the tree.
The image for this blog is a little area in my back yard that I have let trees and nature take over. I have a nice little spot to sit there, on busy days just a walk through my yard and a few moments in my “forest” space and I feel rejuvenated.
Now you get to forest bathe every time you come to a yoga class with BeFit Body & Mind. ahhhhh.
Want to learn more? Check out this site devoted to help us forest bathe: http://www.shinrin-yoku.org