What could be more inspiring than reconnecting with the earth?
I have a beautiful program called “Spirit Walk” which is a simple way to reconnect with our beautiful planet and at the same time, seriously reduce our stress levels.
When it comes to beating stress, the tree huggers of the 1960’s were certainly on to something. Back then, young people were leaving the cities in droves, headed for Big Sur, Boulder or Vermont to ‘get back to the land.’ They were in search of a more authentic experience from life— one that they could not find in the concrete jungles of modern America. And find it they did. These early pioneers reinvented food as we know it. Gone were the TV dinners, processed and ‘convenience’ foods; in their place were home grown, organic vegetables and farm fresh eggs and dairy products. The country life was the good life.
According to Mind, England and Wales’s leading mental health charity, a study by the University of Essex compared the benefits of a 30-minute walk in a country park with a walk in an indoor shopping center on a group of 20 members of local Mind associations.
After the country walk, 71% reported decreased levels of depression and said they felt less tense while 90% reported increased self-esteem.
This was in contrast to only 45% who experienced a decrease in depression after the shopping center walk, after which 22% said they actually felt more depressed! And it had nothing to do with how much money they did or didn’t have to spend in the shops.
Some 50% also felt tenser and 44% said their self-esteem had dropped after window-shopping at the center.
The university also conducted a second study, asking 108 people with various mental health problems about their experiences with ecotherapy, which Mind describes as “getting outdoors and getting active in a green environment as a way of boosting mental well-being.”
An impressive 94% said that green activities had benefited their mental health and lifted depression, while 90% said the combination of nature and exercise had the greatest effect overall.
Over my 12 plus years now of teaching yoga, I repeatedly am drawn to creating programs and outdoor sessions to get out into the fresh air whenever possible. When we lived in Las Vegas I created a program that was held in the spectacular Red Rocks Conservation park – Yoga and Walking, I return to Tulum every year, to create an unparalleled outdoors experience for myself and the retreat participants, as breathing fresh air, especially when compared to stale indoor air such as found in a mall, has a very beneficial effect, as does the natural full spectrum light from the sun.
My studio at the OM Ranch was carefully designed to bring the outdoors indoors. Natural light abounds, soft colors that reflect the outdoors, and natural materials were used for flooring and our yoga props.
The concept of “ecotherapy” or “green” therapy as it is also known is being recommended as a viable treatment to be used either in addition, or as an alternative to conventional drug or psychological therapy for depression. But for our purposes here, I think we can safely say that ecotherapy is a safe, effective and very enjoyable method for reducing the deadly, aging effects of stress. A walk outside provides benefits that your treadmill cannot and if you have a loving dog to walk with you, you will get a double dose of stress reduction and well-being.
Please click here for the Information on Spirit Walk which is held every Tuesday morning at Sage Hills.
Thank you! Sat Nam