When all else fails, people often turn to nature to find true healing. Based on this thought, the Japanese developed the tradition of Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing. The idea is simple: you take a walk in the woods, feel the positivity of nature, and come back feeling rejuvenated. This eco therapy is gaining popularity everywhere in the world, including India.
The focus is not on the physical engagement (hiking), but on engaging the senses to see, hear, smell and feel the forest.
The Japanese found this to be so effective that they officially adopted Shinrin-Yoku as a preventive healthcare practice. Here’s how it can benefit you:
The Science Behind Forest Bathing
– Trees exude organic compounds that boost the count of Natural Killer (NK) cells in the body, which could help combat tumours.
– They also emit phytoncide (the aroma of the forest), which naturally strengthens your immune system and helps get rid of allergies.
– Being one with nature improves the parasympathetic nervous system that promotes the body’s rest response, calming the nerves and easing digestion.
– A mere 30-minute walk results in lower levels of cortisol (also known as the stress hormone). This normalises your blood sugar (glucose) levels, blood pressure and pulse rate.
– Forests can also cure most conditions linked to our all-work-no-play culture, such as irregular sleeping patterns and a general sense of lethargy.
Sadly, the loss of green cover is contributing to the high stress culture prevalent in most Indian cities.
If you’re looking to escape the urban chaos, do consider forest bathing at one of these green locales:
1. Kailasakona Waterfalls, Andhra Pradesh
Located in the Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh, these perennial waterfalls are a delightful spot for forest bathing. The water from these falls is considered sacred, is rich in minerals and is believed to have medicinal properties.
2. Silent Valley National Park, Kerala
Located in the heart of the Nilgiri Hills, this evergreen rainforest is home to a variety of flora and fauna, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The perennial crystal clear river Kunthi that traverses the region is a gem for nature lovers.
3. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttarakhand
The dense forest cover of Uttarakhand is perhaps the best place to reap the benefits of forest bathing.
Inhabited by rare flora and fauna, this region also offers scenic views of the majestic Himalayan peaks such as Chaukhamba, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, Panchachuli, and Kedarnath.
4. Talley Valley, Arunachal Pradesh
Talley Valley is a wildlife sanctuary cum biodiversity hotspot, which is home to a variety of endangered species of flora and fauna.
Rivers such as Pange, Sipu, Karing and Subansiri flow through it. A trail through this natural region is sure to refresh you.
5. Kadugodi Plantation, Bengaluru
Spread across 71 acres, the tree park located in Bengaluru’s Kadugodi Plantation is the answer to the city’s declining air, water and land quality.
Human intervention – apart from basic recreational amenities for citizens – has been carefully avoided, to let nature take its own course.
Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar