What is Forest Therapy?
The scientifically backed Japanese tradition of "shinrin-yoku", or Forest Bathing that has been shown to improve physical and mental health.
So really, what is Forest Therapy?
At its core, Forest Therapy is a slow, guided, mindful walk near trees that has the proven ability to improve your health. During Treebath’s Forest Therapy sessions, Treebath’s Certified Guides lead you through a series of invitations to help you slow down, awaken your senses, and connect with the forest in a deeply personal way. In the tranquility of nature, some participants experience the pleasure of stillness and quiet, and their journey through the forest leads them back to their true self.
What Forest Therapy is not.
Forest Therapy is not a strenuous hike. Nor is it an exercise class where your pulse increases. You will not likely improve your abs. We also do not teach scientific names of animals, plants or trees. We leave that to zoologists, botanists and arborists
History & Health Benefits
Where does Shinrin-Yoku come from?
Shinrin-Yoku started in Japan in the early 1980's. We all know, and it has been proven scientifically, that connecting to the natural world is good for us. The Japanese forestry commission, who coined the term, also noted that we are gradually losing that connection. Therefore, they developed Shinrin-Yoku as a purposeful act of spending time in the forest to see, hear and feel the nature around us.
What is the difference between Shinrin-Yoku, Forest Bathing and Forest Therapy?
Forest Bathing is the English translation of Shinrin-Yoku. You may also hear the practice referred to as Forest Therapy, which is how we refer to it. Forest Therapy, while inspired by Shinrin-Yoku, is a unique adaptation of the practice for the western world which adds other elements of nature teachings. Forest Therapy is becoming increasingly popular outside Japan as we acknowledge the benefits of being in and reconnecting with nature.
Why is Forest Therapy good for me?
There are many health benefits backed by scientific studies associated with Forest Therapy. Some of the biological properties of the plants around you and the mindfulness aspect of Forest Therapy all combine to bring physical and psychological benefits.
How does Forest Therapy help my physical health?
Apart from the benefits of light physical exercise, Forest Therapy can boost your immune system, speed up recovery from illness and surgery and lower your blood pressure.
How does Forest Therapy help my mental wellbeing?
Forest Therapy combines mindfulness techniques with the therapeutic powers of the natural environment. This has a positive effect on your mood, reduces stress, improves concentration and frees up creativity. It has also been shown to help with depression and anxiety.
Are there other scientifically proven benefits of Forest Therapy?
Yes. In addition to the above Forest Therapy also list the following benefits:
- Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in NK cells.
- Reduced stress levels (amount of cortisol in your blood)
- Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Increased energy levels
- Improved sleep
How often should I do Forest Therapy?
Any time you spend in the forest, whether it’s on a guided experience or simply going for a walk, is time well spent.
Isn’t Forest Therapy just going for a walk in the woods?
It is so much more. And, depending on how you feel during your walk, so much less. A walk in the woods is something we wholeheartedly recommend; it’s undoubtedly good for you. However, Forest Therapy takes you to a different level of sensory awareness. It uses mindfulness and meditation techniques to allow you to open your senses to the natural world. The experience can be transformative.
And it’s so much less too. There is no additional agenda. It’s not a nature lesson or a physical challenge. You are not learning the names of plants or counting your steps. Just simply being in the moment is enough.
Even its not just a walk in the woods, can’t I do it alone? Why do I need Treebath?
Good question. We can do yoga, meditation or pilates in the comfort of our homes with the help of a mobile device. Yet, millions of people still venture to the studio. Why? Because participating in a practice with others creates a sense of community. Treebath’s Forest Therapy programs rely not only upon the healing properties of being in nature, but also on the shared experience as a group.
Can’t anyone lead a Forest Therapy session?
No. The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (AFNT for short) has an intensive residential course to certify Nature and Forest Therapy Guides. There are very few people who have these qualifications. Guides are rigorously trained to ensure that you enjoy the full sensory experience of Forest Therapy. They are not however, therapists. They are simply guides – the forest itself is the therapy.
But How is Treebath different from other Forest Therapy programs?
First, Treebath's Forest Therapy sessions are conducted by Certified ANFT guides, which ensures the highest industry standard. Second, Treebath’s Forest Therapy sessions have been uniquely adapted to be accessible to a broad range of participants in both urban, and rural locations. Treebath’s curriculums also combines elements from other mindfulness practices as well as Swedish concepts used by The Swedish Outdoor Association.
What to Expect
What’s involved in a Forest Therapy experience?
During Treebath’s guided Forest Therapy sessions, you will be taken on a seemingly simple journey which can have a surprisingly powerful effect. Your guide will lead you on a gentle walk through the forest, and offer ‘invitations’ to activities that heighten your sensory awareness.
How many people are in one class?
Class sizes are typically between 12 and 15, with a maximum of 20 partipants per class.
Will I have to interact with other participants?
Throughout each Forest Therapy session, there may be brief pauses where your Guide will invite you to share your experience -- only if you so choose to. There is no requirement to do so. As one steps into the moment and feel that deep connection to the natural world, many participants find it meaningful to share their journey to gain a sense of peace and balance.
Do I need to be physically fit?
Treebath’s Forest Therapy sessions are not strenuous and intended for people of all fitness levels.
How old do you need to be to participate in Treebath’s adult programs?
Treebath’s adult programs are aimed at individuals aged 13 and up. Those under the age of 18 need to be accompanied by an adult. There is no upper age limit.
How far will I walk?
Treebath’s walks are typically on marked trails and range from ¼ mile to 1.5 miles depending on the chosen program. While, some parts of Treebath’s sessions are on natural and uneven terrain, Treebath take into consideration the abilities of all participants.
What if it rains?
Treebath’s programs are rain or shine. Rain often enhances sensory experience and makes for some of our most memorable walks. Please be sure to dress properly by reading about What to Wear.
What if it is cold or extreme weather?
If weather conditions are hazardous or would pose a serious risk to participants, we will cancel. Also, if temperatures are below 30 °F / -1 °C.
How does it work when I get there?
Once you register for a Treebath session, you will receive an email with the name of your guide, their contact information and the meeting point location. When you arrive at the meeting point, you will check in with your Forest Therapy Guide and be given a standard Waiver to sign to participate.
Can I participate if I am pregnant or otherwise disabled?
Yes. Pregnant women can partake right up until their due date, but we recommend you check with your doctor. We welcome individuals with any special needs. When you register you are asked to fill out Treebath’s basic health questionnaire so that we can plan our walks accordingly to accommodate any special needs.
Do you have water, or do I have to bring mine?
We recommend that you bring your own water.
What if I am hungry?
We recommend you bring whatever you might need on a typical walk of the duration you register for. After our session, we will have a brief tea ceremony made from foraged plants and offer a light snack to participants who wish to partake.
What if I am running late?
Guides will wait at the meeting point for up to 10 minutes. However, if you plan to be late we ask you contact the guide for your session.
What if I need to leave early?
If you are planning on leaving class early, we ask that you please tell the guide ahead of time.
Can I bring my phone?
Our programs are phone free. Out of respect for other participants please turn off your phone for the duration of your session.
What about social media?
Once your program begins, we do not permit posting to social media. We have a strict policy to protect the privacy of our participants. We strive to provide a safe place during our programs so participants can experience their own journey without judgement. We reserve the right to bar anyone who violates this policy from future Treebath sessions.
Can I talk about my Treebath experience?
Of course! We welcome our participants to spread the word about our programs. However, we ask that you limit what you share to your individual experience. We reserve the right to bar anyone who violates this policy from future Treebath sessions.
Do I need to create an account?
Yes. It's important for us to know who's with us on Treebath’s Forest Therapy sessions and to have your contact information in case of emergencies.
My friends and I want to take our first Forest Therapy session together. Do we need to create our own accounts to sign up?
Yes, each new participant must create an account and fill out a Waiver Form before their first class. Please note that classes are not transferable to other participants.
What is your refund policy?
Series of Classes: You may cancel your purchase within 3 days of registering for a program by notifying us in writing at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive your applicable refund within 15 business days of receipt of your notice of cancellation. If you cancel less than 30 days before your program starts, there is a non-refundable cancellation fee of $100. We reserve the right to cancel a program due to low registration. If this happens, you will be refunded your full amount.
Single & Trial Classes: For Single classes, trial classes, and workshops, If you cancel less than 72 hours before your program starts, purchase is non-refundable.