When we talk about Shinrin Yoku, we refer to practice with a complex meaning: let’s discover how it works and its effects on the body and mind.
Shinrin Yoku is a term of Japanese origin that is translated as Forest Bath. Behind this simple word, there is a real-world that refers to a practice that puts at its center contact with nature.
Forest bathing is an activity that calls attention to all five senses and does not refer to a physical bath in some stream but has a more metaphorical meaning.
Shinrin Yoku, the bath in the forest and its effects
In Japan this practice is subsidized by the National Health System and falls under the branch of medical research called Forest Medicine. It all began with a simple campaign for the protection of forests, which focused on encouraging contact between man and nature.
The benefits of Shinrin Yoku
With time, however, people began to understand the actual benefits of this activity, which were not only studied but also prescribed by doctors to regenerate the body and mind.
Specifically, it improves the immune and cardiovascular systems, increases energy, lowers blood sugar levels and reduces states of anxiety, stress and depression, giving a feeling of well-being and relaxation.
How to practice forest bathing
It is a type of experience that can be done in any forest even in city areas. There are groups in Japan that are dedicated to guiding individuals through walking meditation. Starting with a session that includes warm-up and stretching exercises, and then set out on a slow 2km walk. The conditions are simple, no electronic devices, so no cell phone first and foremost. What is needed is to let the body carry us and bring our attention to the senses.
It is not a sport, nor is it a variation of one, it is a sensory journey in which we carve out a moment just for ourselves, without technological appendages. By opening your senses you will re-discover an archaic feeling that will surprise you. It is a way to reconnect with nature, observe the colors of the forest, smell scents, and sounds and get closer to the trees. There are also those who combine this experience of contact with nature with meditation and yoga, a way to combine practices that bring us back to a slow present, without stress and breathlessness.
Shinrin Yoku is a practice that is having a lot of success even here in Europe, a response to the demand from those who need to find their roots in the earth. In addition to being a comfortable, free and original way to disconnect from everyday life.