Breathing to the rhythmic babbling of a nearby brook, I fix my gaze on the canopy of green above. Like old friends reuniting for the first time in years, branches budding with new life reach out for one another. With every breath I feel a little lighter, letting the layers of stress fall off me.
I’m practicing Shinrin-Yoku – the Japanese art of forest therapy.
At Green Mountain at Fox Run, this newly trending activity has been a part of our program for years; we call it Vermonting. Before you dismiss the idea, explore the many proven benefits.
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According to the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy, forest bathing:
- Reduces stress
- Reduces blood pressure
- Boosts immune system functioning
- Improves mood
- Increases energy level
- Improves sleep
- Accelerates recovery from surgery or illness
What is Forest Bathing?
It’s similar to hiking, but there’s no destination. And it’s a close relative to meditation, but solitude isn’t required.
Simply put, forest bathing is about spending extended periods of time in the woods while being mindful of your surroundings. Using all your senses, smell, touch, taste, look and listen to the forest with intention.
Japan has been practicing this form of therapy for decades, earning them the number one spot for life expectancy. The United States is ranked 31, but perhaps we can change that by getting more people to adopt forest bathing.
What Better Place to Forest Bathe than Green Mountain?
With 78% of Vermont being forest, there’s plenty of space to explore. A few of our favorite spots to take participants include:
Our forest bathing outings are designed for all. If you’re someone with a bad back or knee, making hills a painful experience, you’ll love Vermonting at Green Mountain.
LynnAnn Covel, our Fitness Manager, also goes by another name – the Queen of Modification. Not only can she get you moving in a way that feels good in the gym and studio, but she has designed Vermonting to be accessible to all Green Mountain women.
“Women love to get outside and explore the hidden natural treasures that our Fitness Manager LynnAnn has found. She makes it her mission to find beautiful places that accommodate all levels so that everyone can safely enjoy their time outdoors.” – Anne Poirier, Program Director
Despite the variety of activities we offer, including tai chi, yoga, aquatics and tabata, Vermonting is among our participants’ favorites. Maybe it’s because of the tranquility that Vermont provides or perhaps it’s because our forest bathing adventures improve their mood.
Whatever the reason, our outings around southern Vermont offer the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness – whether it’s “trendy” or not.