About Forest Therapy
Shinrin-yoku, also known as Forest Therapy in Australia, is part of the National Public Health programme developed by the Japanese in the 1980s. It was a response to rising incidences of suicides, stress related diseases and deaths. These deaths were linked to a culture of overwork and urbanisation.
Shinrin in Japanese means ‘forest’, and ‘yoku’ means bath. So shinrin-yoku means to bath or to immerse yourself in the forest atmosphere. (Dr Q Li)
Forest Therapy is walking slowly in nature, using all our senses to tune into the world around us. Simply being in nature is an open invitation to bring our awareness and focus to the present moment.
Dr Qing Li is an Associate Professor at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo and President of the Japanese Society of Forest Therapy. He is one of the world's leading experts on forest bathing and describes, ‘Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world’.
When you are surrounded by nature, giving it your full attention, your senses awaken to the fresh air, aromas, bird song, animals, colours and textures and you are bathed in the whole natural world, enhancing our sense of physical aliveness.
Forest Therapy invites you to slow down, relax and to connect with nature. We are wired to respond to nature, not just because we evolved there, but because nature is a part of us. When enjoying a forest therapy walk nature continues to exert her healing influence as we slow down in her company, and we re-set our brains and biorhythms to the natural world.
‘The environment, after all, is where we meet, is where we all have a mutual interest. It is one thing that all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focussing lens on what we can become’
Lady Bird Johnson
Healthy People, Healthy Planet
Our early experiences in nature are important for fostering a sense of belonging, being part of a bigger picture and to realise nature is not something separate to us, but that we are an integral part of nature. When we experience being connected to nature we also experience a willingness to protect and look after that which sustains us for future generations.
Nature Being Australia values the important role the National Parks Service provides in protecting and preserving the scenic and natural features of our environment. Not only for environmental and cultural reasons, but because these environments are important for human physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Nature Being Australia wishes to encourage human interaction, appreciation and respect for nature, nature conservation and preservation.
Part of this, is raising awareness of the value National Parks and Wildlife Service gives, in preserving, protecting and providing access to nature. Forest Therapy in Sydney’s stunning Royal National Park can provide participants with an increased appreciation of the park, and an increased awareness of the importance of conserving our natural heritage.
I have always loved being outside. Being in a natural landscape always gives me a sense of freedom. In nature, it’s so easy to let go thoughts of work, busy schedules and other distractions and demands of city life. I believe this is because nature intuitively makes us feel good.
When we had the opportunity to move from an urban city and base our life in the Royal National Park, loving being in nature as I do, it was an obvious choice to make.
When I first started living in the Royal National Park, it reminded me of how, as a child, I loved special trees and natural places, walking tracks, building forts and cubbies in the bush and wading through streams. Time spent in nature was time lost – but in the best way.
This place I now call home has become a source of daily inspiration. Every day I am offered a sense of wonder, and endless opportunities to connect with nature. You can see some of what I experience on Instagram. I am so grateful every day to have the opportunity to live here.
Learning about the practise of Shinrin-yoku, (Forest Therapy as it is practised in Australia), was a way for me to incorporate my love of nature and share these experiences with more people.
I believe, whether we acknowledge it or not, there is a yearning for many of us to go back to nature, even as our urban lifestyles have reduced the opportunities to be in the natural world.
Some of us might find this transition difficult because we are unaccustomed to being in nature. Many of us are aware how our relationship with nature will determine the future. Early experiences in nature are important because they foster a sense of belonging, being part of nature rather than something separate to it. When we feel a sense of belonging we want to nurture and protect it.
Nature helps me to feel fully alive, and to have a healthy fulfilling life. This is what I now want to offer you.
Joining a Guided Forest Therapy walk is one way people can experience a reconnection to nature.
Becoming a certified Forest Therapy Guide has personally been a rewarding path. I am excited about what, where and how this new journey will unfold. I am looking forward to developing new relationships in life.
So please join me on a Guided Forest Therapy walk, and let’s explore the gift of nature together.
The International Nature and Forest Therapy Alliance, INFTA
are a global organisation committed to establish Forest Therapy as a scientifically-proven Public Health Practice. INFTA has established its Public Health Practice on evidence based research, the International Core Curriculum of Forest Therapy and the International Handbook of Forest Therapy. INFTA is the international peak body of Forest Therapy.
INFTA certifies and accredits training providers and Forest Therapy Guides internationally.
Why a forest therapy guide?
As a certified Forest Therapy Guide I start our walk in a gentle, slow and deliberate way. The carefully selected trail aids in slowing our biorhythms to fall into step with nature. During the walk, the Guide invites you to share a complementary blend of creative, physical and sensory activities taking our cues direct from nature. These activities provide gateways for us to be present, open and alert to the environment. There is no right or wrong way to do these activities, nor is there any obligation or expectations of you.
When we experience nature in this way we are inviting our curiosity, contemplation and the intuitive knowing (that we are part of the natural world) to awaken.
As the forest is the therapist, the Guide works in partnership with nature by opening the door to this experience in a relaxing, enjoyable and effortless way.
Who can join a walk?
A Forest Therapy Walk is suitable for all ages of 13 years and above. For younger children, you might consider a private walk customised for a family experience.
Things to bring on a walk
A small day pack with water, snacks, a mask, sunblock, sanitiser, insect repellent and
personal medications with you is recommended, for the trail.
Dress appropriately for the weather, wearing or packing a waterproof outer layer, and closed, sturdy shoes. Don’t forget to bring a hat.
If you do not want to sit on the ground feel free to bring something to sit on a light fold up stool, chair, waterproof barrier, or blanket. I suggest a small back pack as you will want your hands free to fully engage in nature.
A typical forest therapy walk varies depending on the time allocated for the walk, usually two kilometres over two hours. Participants should be able to walk at a slow pace, and mostly we go over gentle terrain. Moderate fitness levels are required. There is some sitting on the ground.
The event will go ahead even in rainy weather. If we need to cancel due to inclement weather, bush fires or notifications from council or parks authorities, you will be notified on the morning by 8:00 am.
Certified Forest Therapy Guide
Cert III Tourism Guide
Mental Health First Aid
First Aid Certified
There is a growing body of evidence from scientific studies showing, that time spent in nature can modify the body’s biomarkers of stress and wellness. These physical changes are observed directly and indirectly.
Direct Benefits of Forest Therapy Walks
Anxiety and depression levels are lowered
Positive mood improvement in happiness levels
Reduction in heart rate and blood pressure
Reduced cortisol levels indicating a reduction in our stress hormone levels
Improved immune function as Natural Killer cells increase in volume (anti-tumour)
Exposure to phytoncides which possess anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-viral properties
Indirect Benefits of Forest Therapy Walks
Reduced risk of heart and lung diseases
Reduced risk of obesity
Weight management assistance
Increased overall fitness levels
Less likelihood of feeling stress in typical day to day situations
Better and more regular sleep
Enhanced ability to concentrate
Increased energy levels
Higher self-confidence and more emotional stability
Forest Therapy encourages regular contact with nature to receive on-going health benefits.