The power of Shinrin – Yoku

‘’By rediscovering and nurturing these relationships, Shinrin-yoku contributes to more balance in our modern lives’’

Shinrin-yoku (also translated as forest baths or forest therapy) is an originally Japanese technique of deep nature experience to support the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the participants. Great emphasis is placed on the relationship between man and nature, the relationship with yourself and with others. By rediscovering and nurturing these relationships, Shinrin-yoku contributes to more balance in our modern lives. The scientifically and empirically proven effects of forest baths include: Reduction of stress hormones (cortisol), 

  • Strengthens the immune system by increasing the number and activity of Natural Killer cells (NK-cells) in the body,
  • Lowering the blood pressure,
  • More stable glucose content,
  • Improved sleep,
  • Accelerated recovery after illness or surgery,
  • Improved cognitive ability, increased mental clarity, focus, creativity,
  • Increase in the feeling of happiness, well-being,
  • Improved heart coherence, 
  • Improved and more stable mood.

Guided forest therapy sessions help participants to slow down their pace and strengthen their sensory perception so that they can stay in the here and now more easily. The guide helps you get out of your head and into your body through enhanced sensory perception. Deep relaxation activates the parasympathetic nervous system that helps us to truly unwind, gain more insights, view life from a different perspective, become more creative and emotionally balanced, as well as giving the body a chance to recover from chronic stress. One begins to pay more attention to the natural environment, the beauty of the imperfection, the preferences and signals of one’s own body, a healthier body image. We also call this bodyfulness. The wisdom of the body often gives clear signals about lifestyle choices that suit us better than any external advice.

In the state of enhanced sensory perception and deep relaxation, one is also more receptive to new perspectives and insights of nature. After all, nature works like a mirror as long as we become open and calm enough.

In guided Shinrin-yoku sessions, the special form of communication and sharing also simulates an important aspect: the feeling of connectedness. We feel more connected with nature, the whole network of all life, our own heart, body and soul and with others in the group. Humans are part of and evolved in nature and this original relationship with the rest of nature is in our DNA. In today’s stressful, hectic life in which we often get overworked and overexcited, it is not surprising that so many people around the world regain their peace, balance, health and enjoyment of life by immersing themselves in nature using such an accessible and open method as Shinrin-yoku. 

“Between every two pine trees is a doorway leading to a new way of life.” – John Muir

This article was written by Kat. Kat Novotna is a Forest Therapy Guide certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT), trainer of guides with the ANFT, IPE certified Mind Body Eating Coach, certified Yoga Nidra Teacher and a Shinrin-yoku art designer. She also serves as a Co-Chair of ANFT European Council. Kat’s passion and mission is to help people reconnect with nature, with themselves and others, while focusing on the aspects of nature connection, body wisdom, slowing down, deep relaxation and heart intelligence. With her passion for nature-inspired creativity and a background in cross-cultural communication, Kat enjoys guiding participants and teams from all cultures with her company Way Back Home through workshops in the Netherlands and online. She is trained in Forest Therapy, Holistic Nutrition, Dynamic Eating Psychology, Yoga Nidra, and Cross-Cultural Communication and uses her skills and experience to help improve the wellbeing and connectedness of all living beings. If you would like to get in touch with Kat, feel free to visit find her on Instagram at waybackhome.info

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