Insider’s Guide to 2015 Trends: Forest Bathing


2015 Trends: Forest Bathing

We’re going to go out on a limb here and say many don’t know what forest bathing is (until we included it in our 2015 trends report, I was completely unaware). It sounds, shall we say, exotic, mystifying, and maybe a bit terrifying for people who aren’t fans of nature.

But for those who want to branch out (last tree pun, we promise) on what’s trending in the wellness world, here’s a quick recap of this particular trend—one of 10 in our 2015 trends report. And you’re in for a surprise—forest bathing has nothing to do with water.

Image courtesy of Forsthofgut Nature Hotel

2015 Trends: Forest Bathing

The history: The Japanese government coined the term, “forest bathing,” in 1982; its translation, “shinrin-yoku” means “taking in the forest atmosphere,” i.e., it’s a simple concept that revolves around quietly walking and staying mindful of the sounds, scents, colors, and “feel” of the forest setting that surrounds you.

Rooted in medical evidence: What’s the purpose of forest bathing? The medical evidence that backs it up—studies show it offers the following health benefits: significantly lowers blood pressure (-1.4 percent), heart rate (-5.8 percent), cortisol levels (-12.4 percent), and sympathetic nerve activity (-7 percent) compared with city walks, according to our trends report. As well, trees emit phytoncides, airborne, aromatic chemicals/oils said to positively impact people’s immune system markers.

Into the woods: Read on for examples of forest bathing practices already underway around the world.

Image courtesy of Blackberry Farms; photo credit Rau

Blackberry Farm, located in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, features “Deep Healing Woods” activities that include in-forest yoga, meditation, and endurance hikes. Spa treatments use woodland ingredients like flowers and herbs.

Image courtesy of Blackberry Farm

2015 Trends: Forest Bathing

The Lodge at Woodloch‘s Forest Bathing program comprises walks guided by a master herbalist, mindful contemplation, and foraging for edible plantlife.

Image courtesy of The Lodge at Woodloch

2015 Trends: Forest Bathing

Forsthofgut Nature Hotel’s waldSPA (forestSPA) in Austria enriches the senses with amenities like guided forest bathing, barefoot forest walking paths, a garden, lake, and yoga platform overlooking the Leogang Mountains.

Image courtesy of Forsthofgut Nature Hotel

2015 Trends: Forest Bathing

You can’t get much more “into the forest” than this Swedish property (it’s named Treehotel, after all). It features a “tree sauna,” hot tub, and relaxation area—in the woods, of course; the “bird’s nest” guest accommodation; and excursions in the Lapland forest: Following a guided walk deep into the woodlands, you’ll learn to make a fire, sip hot drinks, and stay warm cocooned in reindeer skins.

Image courtesy of Treehotel