Trend Watch: Bathing in Nature

Spas are tapping into "Shinrin-yoku," the Japanese art of "forest bathing," for its stress-relieving, immunity-boosting benefits.
Image courtesy of Blackberry Farm

L’Auberge de Sedona Resort & Spa in Sedona, Arizona, has dubbed its forest bathing offering, Connecting with Nature. The service, which is complimentary for groups or costs $150/$210 for a 60-/90-minute private session, is designed to “help participants connect with nature on a deeper level by inviting them to experience their surroundings in new ways.” The spa fully capitalizes on its creekside location: Guests are led on a gentle, guided walk by the water, “which supports well-being through sensory immersion in the naturally healing environment,” explains spa director Catherine Powers. Next, the therapist — one of a team of facilitators trained under the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs — asks them to share something they’re grateful for, before taking them through a series of visual and olfactory suggestions. Mindfulness and meaningful interaction with others are key goals, so the activity culminates at a “sit spot,” where guests discuss their experiences. “Forest bathing is the perfect way to encourage people to reconnect with themselves and with nature, which promotes beauty from within,” concludes Powers.

Amanda Myers, director of wellness at Blackberry Farm’s Wellhouse spa in Walland, Tennessee, was so inspired by studies espousing the psychological and physiological effects of forest bathing that she devoted an entire menu at the spa to the practice. Entitled Deep Healing Woods, it encompasses a guided Earthfit Endurance Hike, Earthfit Forest Run, Deep Healing Woods Meditation (all 90 min./$150) and Deep Healing Woods Yoga (90 min./$165). At the end of each service, the group gathers on a platform to perform sensorial meditation based on their experiences. The guide asks them to think about what they saw, smelled and heard, and how they felt. For spas that don’t have the luxury of green space, Myers suggests offering yoga or meditation classes in a local park or beach or on a hiking trail. You can even achieve a similar affect through decor. “Having nature-scape in your spa automatically relaxes guests’ minds,” explains Myers. “That can entail placing more live plants in common areas, but even beautiful photos of nature on the walls will have a similar effect.”

Continue reading this story in our February digital edition!