Have you ever spent some time in the countryside or by the beach and felt...incredibly better? Your mood lifted, your eyes brighter, anxiety soothed, mind hushed? It only seems obvious that getting out of the clanging grind of the city every once in a while might be good for your mental health, yet it is not so long ago that scientists connected the dots that flowers, grass, and trees could be used to treat depression or anxiety.
In recent times and around the world various efforts have been made to promote the good of nature. In the 70's, Edward O. Wilson, the father of sociobiology and biodiveristy put forward a theory that the affiliation we have with nature is rooted in our biology and genetics and is beneficial for our health (Ecotherapy). In 1982, forest bathing (Being in the presence of tress and enjoying nature) became a part of national health program in Japan. In Norway, poet Henrick Ibsen coined the word "friluftsliv"—meaning "open-air living," which soon turned into a cultural phenomenon in nature & wellness loving Scandinavia .
Harvard University published a study into the relationship between exposure to green spaces and mortality rates. They studied 100,000 female nurses living across the US over an eight-year period and found that those living in the greenest areas had a 12 percent lower mortality rate compared with those living in the most built-up areas. To find out what factors might explain this, they collected information on doctor-diagnosed depression and antidepressant medication. Improved mental health, measured through lower levels of depression, was estimated to explain nearly 30 percent of the benefit from living around green spaces. The result was that "That there's a direct cognitive benefit and restorative quality of being in nature, that we've evolved in nature to enjoy being in nature."
Taking your practice to the next level
As more and more people live increasingly artificial and unnatural lives, our body, which is a part of nature, is out of sync when it is constantly subjected to unnatural movements, habits, surroundings etc. Over time, its natural abilities will be more and more restrained. Natural Walking is a chance to stop all of those unnatural habits and attitudes that we have developed for years, it is the most natural way to be in touch with our most natural self. Breathing is one of the tell-tale signs of how healthy a person is. Let's try the following experiments to see how Natural Walking improves your breathing and therefore your overall health.
1. Stand straight, stay relaxed but tense just 1 of your fingers, and take a deep breath. How is your breathing?
2. Stand straight and just stop tensing your finger, and take a deep breath. How is your breathing now?
Now try this:
3. Do Key 1 of Natural Walking, relax and allow adjustments to happen, take a deep breath. How is your breathing? Even better?
Are you surprised that your breathing improves significantly when doing Key 1 of Natural ?
Yes, it is true, our body is at its most natural state during Natural Walking and this is just the beginning...
When you combine Natural Walking by practicing in nature, as your feet touch the earth (or sand, grass, etc) you will be connected to nature more beautifully and your body will naturally absorb all the positive energy that nature has so generously provided for all of us. Enjoy early morning practices in nature as everything is still fresh and the surrounding is at its best state.