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Shinrin-yoku, what is it?

I have certainly aroused your curiosity and you want to find out why even minimal exposure to this practice brings great benefits!

Shinrin-yoku is a term coined in 1982 by the Japanese Ministry of Forestry as part of a public health program. It can be translated as "forest bathing" and defined as a natural medicine approach based on the principle that "spending time immersed in nature" leads to health benefits.

The practice is also known as forest bathing or, more generally, as forest therapy.

In Japan, Shinrin-yoku is practiced by around 5 million people and is performed in "certified circuits", in other countries such as the United States and New Zealand, despite the absence of real certification, this practice is very widespread.

In Europe, Shinrin-yoku is still little known; France and England are the European nations where it is most practiced while in Italy, there are still few who are aware of the potential benefits that come from immersion in greenery.

But what are the benefits of this Green therapy?

We now know that natural environments can have positive impacts on people's well-being.

Just think that it has been proven that just 3-5 minutes of exposure to the view of a landscape dominated by trees and flowers is enough to start reducing stress and anxiety levels and enter a state of relaxation.

If we then start from the fact that yoga was born as a practice linked to nature, think about the names of the asanas (positions) which almost all have to do with nature and animals such as Mountain Pose, Tree Pose, Cobra, Sphinx, Pose of the Roaring Lion (excellent for freeing us from negative emotions) and so on. The most famous Indian poems, Ramajana and Mahabharata, are always set... in nature. It is therefore not surprising that Yoga Therapy performed in the countryside could promote healing and improve the quality of life of the person who practices it.

If we consider that it is estimated that human beings spend on average 90% of their time indoors, it will certainly not be a surprise to discover that the risks of mental disorders such as insomnia, anxiety, learning deficits but also physical problems such as digestive, cardio-circulatory, or the "trivial" back pain".

The question we should ask ourselves is:
Can Nature help us so much? The answer would appear to be YES.

There are numerous studies and research that highlight how "forest therapy" has a stimulating effect on the activity of Natural Killer (NK) cells. Natural Killer cells are part of our innate immune system. They represent the first line of defense against pathogens and are therefore closely associated with the health of the immune system and the prevention of many diseases.

It was shown that people showed a significant increase in NK cell activity in the week following a visit to a forest, and the positive effects persisted over time.

It is yet to be established what the improvements are due to but it is thought that they are thanks to "phytoncides", i.e. woody essential oils, which are released by plants to defend themselves from attacks by parasites and insects.

We know well that elements such as the natural smell of wood, the sound produced by flowing water and more generally the landscape, give a feeling of relaxation, lowering stress levels which translates into a reduction in cortisol levels (the stress); a reduction in heart rate; a reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

The therapeutic power of trees, and more generally of the natural environment, can therefore become a valid form of prevention: walking in a forest, or better yet, as experts advise, staying in a wooded area for at least 2-3 days, allows us to reduce stress and increase our sense of well-being, and this effect can last for a long time after we return home.

YogatherapySicily promotes these immersions in nature, even with groups of people who want an immersive experience of one or more days. Periodically organizing Yoga lessons or Yoga Therapy courses in the fabulous nature of the wooded haunts of Sicily.

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