Shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing” is now officially recognized in Japan, South Korea and Finland as a relaxation and stress management technique. Studies are showing that even small periods of time spent in the forest reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower blood pressure and heart rate. Trees release phytoncides into the air, which boost the immune system and stimulate production of white blood cells. Being in natural settings also activates our nervous system’s relaxation response, allowing us to recover from the chronic low-intensity “fight-or-flight” environment of daily life.
A wellness practice that reconnects us with nature and its healing properties, forest bathing does not necessarily require hiking or exercise, though these may be a component. At base it simply consists of being wide awake in the present moment. This directs our attention to our senses and allows us to find inner stillness in the beauty of our immediate surroundings.
Visitors have of course been taking advantage of the benefits of such activity at Minnewaska State Park Preserve for ages, but the park’s first-ever officially organized Forest Bathing program will take place this Sunday morning. Guided by environmental educator Laura Conner and Jane Dobson, a Kripalu-certified “Mindful Outdoor Nature Guide” with MindtheForest, LLC, this program will integrate light exercises, light hiking, breathing techniques and quiet nature observation to heighten participants’ connections to themselves, to others and to the natural world.
This program runs from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sunday, August 4. It is recommended for people 16 years of age and older; participants younger than 18 must be accompanied by a legal guardian or parent. Please wear outdoor-appropriate clothing and footwear and bring any water or food that you may need. There is no fee, but preregistration is required by calling Minnewaska at (845) 255-0752. The fee for parking is $10 per vehicle (a valid Empire Pass may also be used). Meet at the Peter’s Kill Park Office.
Sunday, Aug. 4, 9:30-11 a.m.
Peter’s Kill entrance, Minnewaska State Park Preserve
5281 Rt. 44/55, Kerhonkson