National Geographic listed Costa Rica as one of the best countries to practice the Japanese art of forest bathing. In the 1980s, the term shinrin-yoku (shinrin means forest and yoku means bath) was coined in Japan and has since grown into a scientifically-back physiological and psychological eco-practice. The idea that spending time in nature is good for your health is far from new. However, in an era where an estimated 93% of Americans spend the majority of their day indoors, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency, this ecotherapy has become more necessary than ever. Fortunately, if you are in Costa Rica, access to this highly beneficial practice can be as simple as just stepping outdoors!
What is forest bathing?
Forest bathing, also called forest therapy, is a practice that involves spending time amongst the trees in a mindful and relaxed manner. It is a practice, similar to yoga and meditation, in that it is completely personal. Some prefer to stroll through the forest, while others prefer to sit amongst the trees. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy forest bathing; in fact, even practicing yoga or meditation in the forest is considered a form of forest therapy. The most crucial part is that you make the conscious decision to be present and to pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells, textures, and even tastes of the forest; this is where the healing happens.
Why is forest bathing beneficial to your mental and physical health?
Forest therapy has been linked to:
Reduced blood pressure
Boosted immune system function
Elevated energy level
Increased ability to focus
Strengthened ability to communicate with nature
Accelerated recovery from illness or surgery
Stronger connection to the self
Overall sense of wellness
Where are the best places to take a forest bath near Playa Grande?
Playa Grande is within a day-trip distance from several national parks and forests, including the Santa Rosa National Park, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Palo Verde National Park, and Barra Honda National Park. Here you will find a combination of tropical dry forests, tropical rainforests, and lush mangrove forests. However, you don’t necessarily need to seek out a national park to reap the benefits of forest bathing. Trees and beautiful green spaces are abundant all around and in Playa Grande. The idea is mainly to break free of walled in spaces and the constraints of technology and spend some time with our healing and rejuvenating Mother Earth.
If you are interested in a guided forest therapy tour, Sensoria, a private rainforest reserve near Rincon de la Vieja, offers this unique opportunity to visitors. Their trail is even certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.
While it is simple to surround yourself with trees and nature while in Costa Rica, don’t forget to seek out these arbol moments in your everyday life. Forest therapy, like nearly any other type of therapy, is best when repeated more than once.