Reconnecting with Nature: the Benefits of Forest Bathing

2 Sep , 2016  

Those who have never partaken in the immersive experience of forest bathing, which is rapidly growing in popularity, might be wondering how you actually take a bath in a forest. One does not need to wait for it to rain. In fact, there is no water involved at all.

This much talked about therapy was developed in Japan in the early 1980s as Shrinin-yoku, which literally means ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’. It has since played a key role in Japanese medicine, both for preventive health care and healing, and is also a recognised activity in stress management. The increasing digitisation of our world is a key driving force behind the need to return to nature. The demand for opportunities for leaving the everyday frenzy behind has never been greater, especially from those who live in urbanized areas. There is therefore no wonder that it has spread beyond the borders of Japan and is now a recognized activity around the world.

The basic principle is to spend time in our cherished wooded areas, reconnecting with our natural surroundings using all our senses, the way we were meant to just ‘be’. The walk should not be a strenuous hike: the emphasis should be on taking the time to exercise the five senses – in essence, letting the senses ‘bathe’ in the surroundings, rather than undertaking a cardio workout. Regular rests are encouraged in order to still the mind and reap the full benefits from this peaceful exercise. Scientific research has proven that a typical forest has physical qualities which we can benefit from.

Phytoncides are aromatic, airborne chemicals with microbial properties which are emitted from plants to help protect them from insects and fight against disease. When we breathe these in, we also benefit from a boost to the immune system and an increase in the efficiency of our NK (Natural Killer) cells. People who have regularly engaged in forest bathing have reported a host of other health benefits, including lower blood pressure, increased energy levels, increased ability to focus, better sleep quality and an overall improved mood.

It has now become one of our most popular outdoor activities at The Mayflower Grace, certainly thanks to the location of the hotel within almost 60 acres of landscaped gardens and woodland which provides ample opportunity for this wholesome experience. It is also something that people come back to repeat, as not only is the experience different each time (based on how ready we are to immerse ourselves in the moment) but also because the more we practice it, the greater the benefits.

Forest bathing is available for hotel guests and spa members at The Mayflower Grace.

A private two-hour session costs $110, $60 per person for a group of 2 to 4 people and $40 per person for groups or 5 or more. Please contact the Mayflower Spa team for further details: +1 860 619 7016 or spa.mayflower@gracehotels.com

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