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Shinrin-yoku or the forest bath

Shinrin-Yoku is a recent technique that invites people to walk in the forest. But why go for a walk in the forests? We know what forests are, we’ve seen lots of them! Yes yes, we have already seen many forests through the windows of our cars, our houses or apartments. How about we take the time to go for a walk?


Why Shinrin-yoku?

Ah! Japan, its big cities, its very large population density by location, its philosophy, its medicine, which comes in part from Chinese popular medicine more than 2000 years old…

I already told you about the shiatsu. Japanese therapeutic technique, from the early 20th century which also comes to us from a Chinese popular medicine.

In shiatsu, we work with different principles. One of them is the principle of the 5 elements: FIRE, EARTH, METAL, WATER, WOOD. There is between these five elements a cycle of aid and an opposition cycle. You will have understood that we are in full complementarity and that it is the set of 5 elements that forms the whole. For each element, a meaning (touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight) is attributed.

Another principle we work with is Yin and Yang. Again, one does not go without the other. We are in complementarity!

In Japan, this philosophy of complementarity,of a whole, so that one does not exist without the other, is very anchored. I totally agree with that view. It’s identifiable in all areas of our life.

Origins and reasons of Shinrin-yoku

Developed in the 80’s, the Shinrin-Yoku or forest bath, was born to, also, guard against a modern societal deviance. Shinrin-Yoku has become a very popular medical practice in the land of the rising sun. The idea of this technique (therapy) is to:

  • get back in touch with nature through our 5 senses,
  • to regain the balance necessary for Human to evolve positively,
  • reconnect us and develop our self-healing abilities.

The practice of Shinrin-Yoku is relevant and makes sense in today’s western society. We can easily transpose it into Western Europe where we are continually looking for "well-being", "let go" to relax, avoid/get rid of stress or "burn-out". This technique helps us to counter-balance the societal excesses we live in daily life: noise pollution, atmospheric pollution, visual pollution... senses pollution and its emotional consequences!


In pratice

Let’s take the time to reconnect with nature! Very often we are absorbed by our professional, family activities, hassles, organization, think about planning this and not forget to go there to finish this thing...

And we are convinced that we do not have time! We are mistaken! It is necessary for us, our equilibrium, to love ourselves and therefore to love each other better, to take the time to rejuvenate ourselves! We have often left this part of us in relation to nature. A long time ago, we lived in symbiosis with nature. We are also beings of nature. Since industrialization, which has been very rapid throughout human history, we have dramatically moved away from this contact and balance between Nature and us. And yet we need it. It is even essential to maintain our overall balance and our good physical form.

The vegetation of countries such as Belgium, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Sweden, Holland and many other places is perfect for this therapeutic practice. Pine, cedar, birch, maple, oak all release phytoncides we need. The tranquility of our forests, fauna and flora will rekindle our sensors.

How to made forest bath a sucess?

Let’s just let it go. Let us feel, during our forest baths, to open our senses and meet the energy that we will inevitably encounter along our journey. Let’s enjoy the calm, the beauty of nature. Let us connect to our environment and let our sixth sense work. Let’s enjoy this state of fullness, sitting on a strain, or lying on a leaf mat (or even an easily transportable yoga mat).

Our five senses

  • the sense of touch: touch the vegetation. Lie on the floor, surround the trunk of a tree with our arms in full consciousness. Touch leaves, flowers, water from streams, morning dew, with our barefoot and hands;
  • the sense of taste: open the mouth and let the molecules in the air touch the tongue and puck of our mouth;
  • the sense of smell: smell the perfume of the forest and breathe the natural aromatherapeutic substances of phytoncides;
  • the sense of hearing: listening to the wind passing through branches and leaves of trees, birds singing, aninals moving;
  • the sense of view: watching nature live. Discover these branches that move with the wind, the sun that penetrates the undergrowth to illuminate these greens, these browns, these oranges, these yellows that the forest offers us.

We can also go for a walk in the woods and do a complementary activity at the promenade.This could be an additional way to discover what is happening to us on this occasion:

  •  tai-chi;
  • meditation;
  • yoga;
  • conscious breath;
  • nordic walking;
  • observation of plants.

It is important to keep, at every moment, this conscious decision to take advantage of this experience and allow us to develop our self-healing abilities.


Scientific research

Researcher and Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki, who is also Deputy Director of the Centre for Environmental, Health and Earth Sciences at the University of Chiba, Tokyo, Japan, has published several books on the effects and benefits of sylvotherapy, commonly referred to as "forest baths". Many Japanese studies have shown the physical and psychological benefits of Shinrin-Yoku.This practice is recognized by the Japanese medical profession and is used for patients in a state of stress, anguish, autistic, in treatments in chemotherapy or cardiovascular disease.



Quentin Van Hecke


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