We intuitively know that spending time in nature in good for us.
When we slow down and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too. Critics often scoff that research about the Shinrin Yoku practice is lacking. However, there is growing scientific evidence that getting outside in a natural setting strengthens mind-body connection. More and more studies show that Shinrin Yoku is good for health and could be regarded as the new yoga, effective fore preventive healthcare.
Numerous studies have found that spending time mindfully in nature not only soothes the body and mind, but also offers a substantial boost in natural killer (NK) cell activity. NK cells are responsible for keeping cancer cells in check and are a vital component of the immune system.
Dr. Qing Li at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, has conducted a variety of experiments to examine the effect of forest bathing on human immune function.
“Small groups of men and women respectively were assessed before and after a two-night/three-day forest bathing trip. During the trips the subjects went on three forest walks and stayed in a hotel in the forest. Blood tests were taken before and after the trip, revealing a significant boost in NK activity in the subjects in both groups. The increase was observed as long as 30 days after the trip. This suggests that a forest bathing trip once a month would enable individuals to maintain a higher level of NK activity”.
Dr. Li concludes that the increase in NK cell activity is attributed to breathing air infused with the essential oils of trees called phytoncides. These compounds protect trees from disease, insects and fungus. At the same time, they also help to boost immunity in human.
Science is proving what we’ve always known intuitively that nature does good things to the human brain. It makes us healthier, happier, and smarter. “It is a scientific fact that the occasional contemplation of natural scenes of an impressive character is favorable to the health and vigor of men and especially of their intellect,” wrote Frederick Law Olmsted, American landscape architect who designed Central Park in New York City. For further reading, here is an article on “This is Your Brain on Nature“.
While parents are desperate to get their children away from screens, experts are encouraging parents to see past the playground, with its queue by the swings and fights for whose turn it is to slide. Instead, they are promoting the lifelong benefits of playing in nature. Children playing in the playground miss out on creative, imaginative play that is open-ended and unstructured.
A lot of the barriers are around this fear that children might get hurt more in nature play, for example from bees or falling from the log or rocks or tripping. Increasingly, the argument is being made that the risks of not allowing nature play are actually greater than the risks from the potential minor injuries from nature play. Researchers found that in parks or forests with natural elements, there was a significant positive effect on the children’s play, social behaviors and mental health. Early Childhood Educators observed improved socialization, problem-solving, focus, self-regulation, creativity and self-confidence, and reduced stress, boredom and injury. Outdoor play spaces in nature are important for promoting children’s well-being and development. Young children are provided with opportunities that are very conducive to being peaceful in their play and learning to develop resilience and mental strength.
People so often saw parks as valuable only for their flora and fauna and perhaps scenery and recreation. However, spending time in parks can cultivate the connection between mind-body-spirit and nature.
Apart from the obvious benefits of parks for physical activity, they are sanctuaries from urban stress, places for people to connect and havens for children to explore the wonders of the natural world. Parks help provide us with a sense of place, cultural identity and spiritual nourishment. We experience a greater sense of health and well-being, of connection and meaning when immersed in the living systems that sustain us. Healthy parks sustain healthy people, mentally, physically and spiritually.
At the end of the day, we come out in nature not because the science says it does something to us, but because of how it makes us feel.
Here is all you need to know about Shinrin Yoku training. Comprehensive information on how to become a certified guide and instructor, how to choose the right institution, the career path of certified Shinrin Yoku guide and instructor, the health benefits of Shinrin Yoku, how to practice Shinrin Yoku by yourself, how to design a Shinrin Yoku trips or retreats, how to create a business around the idea of Shinrin Yoku and more.