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Get Into the Wild with Forest Bathing

Yoga | Yoga for Beginners

Forest bathing is experiencing a huge burst of popularity right now. Intrigued? Don't put on your swimsuit just yet.

Despite the name, forest bathing doesn't involve hot tubs, pools, or swimming holes. In a forest bathing trip, you immerse yourself not in water but in the beauty of the wilderness.

What exactly is forest bathing?

While forest bathing is new to the West, the Japanese have been doing it for more than two decades. In 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries developed a program that involved incorporating leisurely trips to the wilderness as part of a healthy lifestyle.

They named the practice Shinrin-Yoku, literally "forest bathing," and citizens were encouraged to set aside time to visit the woods, and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of nature.

Too Much Time Spent Indoors

Modern life comes with many conveniences. Thanks to advancements in technology, we now have things our ancestors probably never even dreamed of. Things like indoor plumbing, HVAC systems, WiFi, and modes of transportation that don't involve horses, just to name a few.

But all the perks of modern life have also led to some downsides: despite our occasional beach and hiking trips, and despite the popularity of Pokemon Go, we are now mostly indoor creatures.

A survey by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that Americans, on average, spend 93 percent of their time indoors.

The problem with spending so much time indoors is the quality of indoor air. The EPA states that the amount of certain pollutants found indoors is twice to thrice as high as the amount found outdoors.

Spending time outdoors, on the other hand, provides a host of mental and physical health benefits.

Why Forest Bathe?

Numerous studies have suggested that spending time in green spaces helps make us healthier. According to the U.S. Department of Environmental Conservation, simply hanging out in a forest can boost our immune system.

When you breathe in that fresh forest air, you inhale phytoncides, chemicals that plants give off to fight pests. Your body responds by upping the number and increasing the activity of natural killer (NK cells), white blood cells that fight off certain diseases and tumors.

Studies have also suggested that simply  looking at trees and greenery can also lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and give your mood a healthy boost.

Give it a Go!

Ready to connect with nature and enhance your health with forest bathing? It's easy and free. Set aside a time for you to forest bathe. Then, find a green space, preferably woods or a forest, then go for a walk, read a book, draw, meditate, or do some yoga.

Look at trees, observe insects, listen to the birds sing, and breathe in that wonderful woodsy scent. Avoid going to places that involve a lot of strenuous hiking: the goal is to relax and be mindful, not to get a hard workout. Forest bathing is best done without modern distractions, so don't forget to turn off your phone!

Have you tried forest bathing? We'd love to hear all about it. Share with us in the comments!

Featured in New York Magazine, The Guardian, and The Washington Post
Featured in the Huffington Post, USA Today, and VOGUE

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