Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Now their research is helping to establish shinrin-yoku and forest therapy throughout the world.
The idea is simple: if a person visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved. Reconnecting with the forest using a range of sensory experiences, mindfulness practices and nature connection exercises enhance the experience and could boost health benefits. Forest therapy approaches such as Shinrin-yoku have roots in many cultures throughout history. John Muir wrote, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.”
Forest bathing health benefits could include:
Increased immune function
Decreased heart rate and blood pressure
Lower stress, anxiety and depression symptoms.
Improved sleep and energy levels.
Reduced inflammation and sore muscles.
The Shinrin-Yoku Society of Kentuckiana aims to provide community, resources and support for people who wish to learn and practice forest bathing. By providing guided walks, retreats, workshops and nature connection events we hope people will re-connect to their ancestral home – the forest canopy, lush meadows or a rushing riverbank.
“Nature, too, supports our personal blossoming (if we have any quiet exposure to her) through her spontaneities, through her beauty, power, and mirroring, through her dazzling variety of species and habitats, and by way of the wind, Moon, Sun, stars, and galaxies.”
― Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World
As guides, we offer an array of short experiential practices that invite each of us to tap into our senses – scent, sight, sound, touch and taste – to explore our individual connection to the animals, plants, soil . . . of the forests. Drawing from an array of Forest Bathing practices, we’ll listen to what’s emerging to guide us. We introduce invitations from what we’ve received on workshops, retreats and through books (*see below) for a group experience. We hope you’ll leave with confidence for furthering your connection to nature.
Previous experience in nature is not required, only an open-hearted curiosity. Forest Bathing offerings are for all fitness levels and abilities. We’ll gather for two hours and will generally be walking short distances, though accommodations will gladly be made. Please join us.
Meet Our Community Leaders:
Co-Founder – Juniper Owens, LCSW (she/they) is on bereavement leave and is not scheduling Forest Bathing outings during this time. During this time you may contact Jordan Dye at the link below to schedule group Forest Bathing outings.
Juniper is a certified level 2 ecotherapist and nature connection guide. Jennifer is also a certified Yasei Shinrin Yoku guide and practitioner. They are the Co-Founder and Director of Education and Ecotherapy at Bridge Counseling and Wellness, an integrative mental health center in Louisville, Ky and provides nature based therapy, retreats and workshops. Juniper is also a Kentucky Master Naturalist and has studied with Animus Valley Institute, Earthbody Institute, Wildcraft Forest School and Living Earth School and has presented at a national Ecopsychology conference on Shinrin-Yoku in clinical practice.
Juniper has experience leading groups in outdoor activities such as backpacking, kayaking, hiking and loves nothing more that to witness a human’s first time waking up in a tent, starting a fire with a flint or walking barefoot on moss. A Kentucky native, Juniper is passionate about connecting folks to their wild nature, authentic selves and fostering the tender nurturing and protection of our planet Earth. They love climbing trees, camping under the stars, fermenting, foraging, bushcraft, wilderness skills and traveling the world in search of high mountain peaks and communion with her “other than human” family.
Co-Founder –Jordan Dye, MSW, is a certified social worker and trained yoga instructor who leads Forest Bathing, mindfulness and outdoor programs. Her 20-year meditation practice parallels her exploration of nature, which began in the US and extends to Peru, Ecuador, and Southern Africa, where she served in US Peace Corps. She enjoys being in the outdoors with others who seek a stronger connection with the natural world.
Jordan also enjoys organic gardening, kayaking, backpacking and bicycling. For more information or to schedule a group Forest Bathing outing, please visit JordanDye.com