At last the feeling of Spring creeps in and welcomes this inner warmth, and with it a deep exhale, a sigh, as if we are, like the plants, waking up from a deep sleep. Even if there are cold spells interspersed within the new-arising warmth, we know the warm long days are close now.
Recently my sister, who has a talent for knowing what I love or may love, gave me a gift of a beautiful book: Shinrin-Yoku - a book all about Forest bathing and the powerful effects it has on us. Such a simple concept really, go in the forest for a few hours and come out feeling more balanced, well and happy. I have somehow always taken this feeling for granted, knowing that this is the feeling state I will be in when I have been in the forest energy. In this book Professor Miyazaki speak about research which proves the effects of this type of aware forest excursion.
Part of this process is being aware of how the trees are affecting us... How do the spring colours of the leaves work in you? Their remarkable innocent transparency and luminosity, as they unfold with the warmth. It has been proven what the effect is on us... The green colour as well as the trees that house them quieten the body and psychi, our hearts beat more quietly, our blood pressure sinks, and our body circulates less stress hormones. It has also been proven that the trees release certain aromas that strengthen our immune systems, and namely our killer cells, that are responsible for prevention of illnesses and fighting tumor cells in the body. Researchers found that what is primarily responsible for this effect is a particular aroma arising from organic chemicals called Terpenoids. These oils are primarily released from conifers, namely: Spruce, Pine, and Fir.
The strength of the healing powers of the trees on people is still being researched. However, what has been discovered in one study is: who spends one day in a forest atmosphere, will increase the amount of killer cells in their blood by 40%. This effect can last up to one week. If someone spends 2 days in a forest, the amount of killer cells in his/her blood will increase to 100%, and the effect will last one month until this level starts to decrease. Researchers suggest we spend 2 days of every month in a forest to tank-up on Terpenoids (Taken from Wohllebens Welt, Geo-Magazin, 01 2019).
How does this effect our yoga practice? As the weather warms the earth, take time to go out into the nature with your yoga mat (or even without), and practice amongst the trees. I recently taught standing yoga on the East Sea, on the beach in the morning. Even though it was fresh, the yoga felt invigorating and grounding - just 30 minutes of practice from Tadasana. No fluff, no mat, no special outfit. I even had my warm hiking boots on! When we just do the practice, we feel the effects - lighter mood, more flexible body movements, freer breath... If you don’t have time or the possibility to go in the forest in the early mornings, just step outside into your garden or onto your terrace, and connect to the earth below you and the sky above, through your breath. Then move a few minutes with a pure intention to be present.
If you are unsure of what to do, perhaps consider starting with my 21-Day online challenge from 1st - 21st June. This is a virtual collective practice, where you sign-up with me, I give you a Zoom link, which you can open each morning when it is time to practice together. We flow and breathe for 30 minutes together, and then you go on with your day. This is a gift of well being to yourself.