Forest Bathing for Beginners

Sometimes, the most simple delights are the most difficult to explain. Such can be the case with one of the oldest ‘new trends’: forest bathing. We’ve all felt the energy and peace that being in nature can provide. In fact, human beings have known this for many centuries. Sunlight, fresh air and the smells of the forest can not only improve our mood, it can redefine how we think about the world and ourselves in it.

If you’ve never dipped into forest bathing before, here are a few simple principles to set you on your way: 

1. Just be.   This isn’t meant to be exercise, and you don’t need a set destination. Simply connect to nature with all your senses.

2. No devices.  Resist the urge to take photos of the world you encounter. There are times for that but forest bathing is an in-the-moment experience for your senses.

3. Destination unknown.  Unlike hiking a trail or climbing a summit, forest bathing needs no physical destination. It’s ok if you go nowhere at all.

4. Breathe it in.  The fragrance of the forest is healing. Take deep breaths and experience the purity of the air. Let your toes explore a cool stream. Lie on the forest floor. Feel the tree trunks with your hands. 

5. Anywhere, anytime.  Once you’ve learned how to deeply experience nature, you don’t need a vast forest or nature preserve. You’ll find you can connect with nature in a pocket park or your own garden.

Here are some local places to try it out!

RAINBOW MOUNTAIN NATURE PRESERVE | 230 Stoneway Trail, Madison, AL

Dappled sunlight and many rock outcroppings sit within 130 acres. 

MONTE SANO STATE PARK | 5105 Nolen Ave., Huntsville, AL 

Translating to ‘mountain of health,’ Monte Sano’s lush, forested acres await you.

MADISON COUNTY NATURE TRAIL ON GREEN MOUNTAIN | 5000 Nature Trail Rd SE, Huntsville, AL 

Circling beautiful Sky Lake, this 72-acre park is a serene spot for forest bathing. 

HARVEST SQUARE RECREATIONAL PRESERVE | 111 Allyson Sadie Blvd, Harvest, AL 

Ponds and shady, meandering trails are open from dawn to dusk.