Being in nature makes us happier, and healthier. Fact.
Countless scientific studies prove that regularly finding yourself a patch of green space to escape to so you can reconnect with the natural world is good for both body and soul; reducing stress and anxiety levels and blood pressure, boosting the immune system, improving mood and concentration levels and accelerating recovery rates after surgery or illness. In Japan the art of Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, became a cornerstone of the public health programme back in the 1980s, with the government recognising that simply being in the forest surrounded by the trees had huge health benefits, both as a form of therapy and preventative medicine.
What the Japanese recognised was that when we take time out and immerse ourselves in nature it is a form of mindfulness. Instead of worrying about daily stresses, or mentally churning through everything we need to do that day, we are consciously making the time and finding the space to be present, and be aware of our surroundings. Without our head buried in our phones, our senses are fully awakened-we smell, look, listen. Our mental energies aren’t being pulled in a thousand different directions and we can truly focus on just being. And so when we do reenter our everyday world, we come back with renewed clarity- and improved creativity and productivity.
Life is hectic. Sadly it’s not practical for most of us to go off rambling in the countryside for hours at a time while there is work, school pick ups and everyday chores to be done, or we are city dwellers. But while we should all try to get outside and find some green space as often as we can, even if it’s the local park or own back garden, connecting with nature doesn’t need to necessarily be about spending hours outdoors or being somewhere remote.
It can be walking to work through a park or eating your lunch outside. Closing your eyes and really listening to bird song in the morning, or the rush of waves tumbling across the shingle. Simply being in nature, even briefly, takes us back to our roots and is incredibly reinvigorating. So wherever you live you can find your own piece of wilderness every day and embrace it.
3 ways to reconnect with your wild side:
Make like a kid and go barefoot.
Sounds crazy, but kicking off your shoes and letting your feet feel the ground beneath them, a practice known as earthing, is said to help release the build up of negative energy in the body and work the natural pressure points in the foot. Stand on soft grass or sand and scrunch your toes; it feels pretty good after a day staring at a screen.
Find your inner Monty Don.
Gardening is incredibly calming. There is something very therapeutic about getting your hands in the soil and watching something you planted flourish from a seed and bloom. If you don’t have a garden how about planting a window box, joining a community garden or applying for an allotment so you can grow your own veg. Or simply potting a colourful plant to brighten up your door step or desk space.
Take your yoga practice al fresco.
If you do meditate or practice yoga at home, take advantage of the warmer weather and do it outside in a park or your garden. You may feel self-conscious at first but stick with it. Breathing in that fresh air, aware of the sights, sounds and sensations around you-it really helps enhance your practice.
Being outdoors and enjoying the natural world around us is central to all our holidays and retreats. So whether you’re enjoying yoga outdoors at sunrise or taking in breathtaking views from a mountain peak, we’ll help you reconnect with nature again. You’ll certainly feel the benefits. Check out our full calendar for all our scheduled retreats.