Forest Bathing simply means immersing yourself in a forest setting. It is a natural way to calm your senses in a busy world. It reconnects you to the forested planet that we as humans grew up in and, in doing so, imparts you with a profound sense of peace.
Shinrin-yoku, or Forest Bathing as it’s known in English, is gaining attention in the UK as a highly effective path to physical and psychological wellbeing. At its simplest, Forest Bathing is spending time in the forest, immersing yourself in the sensory experience.
Shinrin-yoku is part of a wider understanding and acceptance of the benefits of making a connection with nature in order to soothe our minds and heal our bodies. Born in Japan in the early 1980's, its use by doctors as an antidote to the stresses of modern life has begun to get noticed worldwide - and now you can see if it works for you, on a Forest Holiday.
As the leading provider of Forest Bathing in the UK, here we answer all your questions about this amazing practice and the benefits it offers you.
The definition of Forest Bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is the act of spending time in a forest and opening your senses to the natural surroundings to experience feelings of peace and wellbeing.
Shinrin-yoku began life in the early 1980's in Japan. We know intuitively, and it has been proven scientifically, that connecting to the natural world is good for us. The Japanese forestry commission who coined the term also noted that we are gradually losing that connection. This is why they developed shinrin yoku as a purposeful act of spending time in the forest to see, hear and feel nature around us.
It’s easy to pronounce by splitting it into syllables. ‘Shin’ as in the bone beneath your knee, ‘rin’ to rhyme with shin, ‘yo’ to rhyme with go and ‘ku’ to rhyme with who. Shin-rin-yo-ku.
They are one and the same. Forest Bathing is the English interpretation of shinrin-yoku. It is also referred to as forest therapy and it is becoming increasing popular outside Japan as we acknowledge the pressure that modern life puts upon us and how disconnected from the natural world we have become.
Experience Forest Bathing with one of our Forest Rangers at Blackwood Forest and Forest of Dean
It’s so much more and, depending on how you plan your walks, so much less. A walk in the woods is something we wholeheartedly recommend; it’s undoubtedly good for you. However, Forest Bathing takes you to a different level of sensory awareness. It uses mindfulness and meditation techniques to allow you to open your senses to the natural world. The experience can be transformative. And it’s so much less too, because there is no additional agenda. It’s not a nature lesson or a physical challenge - you are not learning the names of plants or counting your steps; just being in the moment is enough.
Guided Forest Bathing consists of a seemingly simple journey which can have a surprisingly powerful effect. Your guide leads you on a gentle walk through the forest, and offers ‘invitations’ to activities that heighten your sensory awareness. As you step into the moment and feel that deep connection to the natural world, you can expect to gain a sense of peace and balance. This one hour experience closes with a Japanese tea ceremony, using foraged plants to refresh and revive you.
The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programmes has an intensive residential course to certify Forest Therapy Guides. There are very few people who have these qualifications but two of our Forest Rangers are now a certified Forest Therapy Guide, trained to ensure that you enjoy the full sensory experience of Forest Bathing.
There are many health benefits associated with Forest Bathing, backed up by scientific studies. The connection with nature, some of the biological properties of the plants around you and the mindfulness aspect of Forest Bathing all combine to bring physical and psychological benefits.
Heighten your senses during a Forest Bathing experience
Apart from the benefits of physical exercise, Forest Bathing can boost your immune system, speed up recovery from illness and surgery and lower your blood pressure.
Forest Bathing combines mindfulness techniques with the therapeutic powers of the natural environment. This has a positive effect on your mood, reduces stress, improves concentration and frees up creativity. It has also been shown to help with depression and anxiety.
There is plenty of research that shows how spending time in nature is good for us. As Forest Bathing is relatively new, there are fewer studies that look at it specifically. However, some interesting research is emerging, and you can find out more here.
Feel more connected to the natural world and reap the benefits of Forest Bathing
Forest Holidays is one of the only places you can experience Forest Bathing authentically in the UK. Currently, we offer Forest Bathing with a qualified guide at Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire and Blackwood Forest in Hampshire. While you can spend time in a forest anywhere in the country - and it is something we highly recommend - our guided one-hour Forest Bathing experience invites you to explore techniques and exercises that access the deeper benefits of shinrin-yoku.
Connection to nature is so important to us as a species and increasingly urban lifestyles remove us from the forests we were at one with for thousands of years. That is why any time you spend back in the forest, whether it’s on a guided experience or simply going for a walk, is time well spent.
It’s in the name! And it’s in our purpose to create authentic experiences in Britain’s amazing forests; connecting people, nature and local communities. We know from our own experience that spending time in the forest has therapeutic effects and we want to expand on that feeling and give guests the opportunity to enjoy the deeper benefits of Forest Bathing.