Shinrin Yoku - Japanese tradition of forest bathing

 You've heard of the Japanese tradition called Shinrin Yoku [森林浴]. This tradition is a kind of therapy translatable as forest bathing and consists of going to a forest or making contact with nature for a while. 

I think most people recognize the importance of having contact with nature and how invigorating and relaxing it is to walk through a beautiful forest and see the komorebi sun rays. The Japanese go further by transforming this practice into a therapy and a word. 

Shinrin yoku - japanese forest bath tradition

This Japanese practice of walking through the forest started in the 1980s with numerous research and disclosure of benefits. The word Shinrin Yoku was coined by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 1982.

How to make a forest bath - Shinrin Yoku? 

Forest bathing is not just about walking through the woods quickly, it can even be relaxing but the results are lower. To fully enjoy the shinrin yoku, the participant needs to do meditation while observing nature.

Shinrin yoku - japanese forest bath tradition

In addition, the walk should be very slow paying attention to all the details like the movement of the leaves, the sound of the trees and the activity of the area. This allows a complete and relaxing immersion in the forest. It is no wonder that people make relaxation videos with sounds of nature or make landscape paintings.

Take a deep breath to enjoy the oxygen of the trees, run your finger over things to feel the texture and enjoy all the sound of the environment. This experience alone and without electronic devices is recommended. 

You don’t always need a forest, just apply the method and enjoy anywhere, be it your garden or a square on the corner. The secret is to relax and meditate, enjoying the environment around you and concentrating on nature.

 

Shinrin yoku - japanese forest bath tradition

This practice is very common in Japan, it is no wonder that the country is full of parks and gardens, not to mention that Japan’s 80% is forests and mountains. What makes a simple walk in the forest beneficial to health? 

Wed the benefits of Shinrin Yoku - Forest bath 

The secret behind the forest bath comes down to naturally produced allelochemicals, known as phytonides. Its job is to protect plants from insects and slow the growth of fungi and bacteria. 

When humans are exposed to phytonides, these chemicals are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, relieve stress and boost the growth of white blood cells that fight even cancer.

Shinrin yoku - japanese forest bath tradition

Research carried out by physician Yoshifumi Miyazaki from Chiba states that Shinrin Yoku reduces blood pressure, heart rate as well as stress and anxiety. More than 50% is believed to improve the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calm. 

Even the smell can reduce stress and irritation in the body. Walking through the forest stabilizes blood pressure and strengthens people's immunity. All this happens because our senses like sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch are in touch with nature.

In addition to the physical improvements in the body, relaxing in the forest can eliminate depression, anxiety and anger problems. You can experience it by eating in the forest, yoga, breathing exercises, aromatherapy and especially visiting a natural hot spring on the mountain (onsen) which also brings numerous health benefits.

Shinrin yoku - japanese forest bath tradition

Other benefits of Shinrin Yoku listed are: 

  • Increase in NK cells in the body;
  • Improved mood;
  • Increases the ability to concentrate;
  • Helps in recovery from surgery or illness;
  • Increases energy; Improves sleep;
  • Increases the sense of happiness;
  • Increases vital force and eros flow;

The Meaning of the Word Shinrin Yoku

If we search in a dictionary like jisho we will see that Shinrin Yoku literally means bathing in the forest, but other suggested translations are forest therapy and peaceful walking through the woods for health benefits.

Shinrin yoku - japanese forest bath tradition
sasint / Pixabay

First let's talk about the composite word of the ideograms [森] which means forest or woods, followed by the ideogram [林] which means small forests and woods. Ending with an ideogram [浴] which means to bathe, but it conveys the idea of being favored, that is, receiving the benefits of nature. +

The junction of the 2 forest ideograms [森林 shinrin] simply means forest, so the word is just the junction of forest + bath. What do you think about the Shinrin Yoku forest bath? I hope you enjoyed the article. We appreciate comments and shares. 

If you liked the idea of walking through the forest, you’ll like the article about the sun’s rays passing through the trees or also our article about language of flowers and their meanings Hanakotoba.

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