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Forest bathing in the Ahrntal: Immerse yourself in healing nature

Background information, insights and the best tips on the new trend in stress management.


The Ahrntal in South Tyrol is not only known for its breathtaking mountain landscape and snow-covered peaks, but also for its pure air and calming, healing forests that invite you to take a forest bath. Forest bathing, or “Shinrin-yoku,” is an ancient Japanese practice that is becoming increasingly popular and attracting more and more people in our hectic, digital world. In this blog post we would like to tell you everything about forest bathing in the Ahrntal - from its origins and health aspects to the best places for mindful forays.


What is forest bathing?


Forest bathing is not a traditional hiking or sporting activity. It also has nothing to do with actually “bathing in the forest”. Rather, it is a meditative and mindful walk through the forest in which you consciously open your senses, perceive nature and connect with it. The idea is to not only see the forest through your eyes, but to feel it with all your senses. This includes the rustling of the leaves in the wind, the chirping of the birds and the smell of the trees as well as the contact with the earth beneath your feet. Forest bathing is an opportunity to harness the healing power of nature, reduce stress, improve concentration and increase overall well-being.


Where does forest bathing come from?


As previously mentioned, forest bathing has its roots in Japan, where it emerged in the 1980s as a response to the stressful and fast-paced lifestyle of modern society. The Japanese government recognized the health benefits of forest bathing and promoted the practice as part of a comprehensive health program. Today, forest bathing is a recognized therapy in Japan, used to manage stress and promote general well-being.


Forest bathing - how do you do it?


Forest bathing is less complicated than you might think and requires no special skills. Here are some tips on how to best enjoy this experience:


  1. Choose the right location:  Find yourself a quiet forest with a variety of trees and plants. Ideally a quiet place to fully enjoy the peace and intimacy of nature.

  2. Deceleration: Consciously take time for forest bathing. Turn off your phone or leave it at the hotel and clear your mind of unnecessary thoughts.

  3. Sensory Perception: Focus on using your senses. Feel the forest floor beneath your feet, smell the scent of the trees, hear the birds singing and observe the nature around you.

  4. Mindfulness: Be present in the present moment. Pay attention to your breathing and consciously take in your surroundings. Take time to appreciate the beauty of nature.

  5. Sitting meditation: Find yourself a comfortable place in the forest and take a seat. Close your eyes and meditate for a few minutes to deepen your connection with nature.


What are the health effects of forest bathing?


Forest bathing offers a variety of health benefits that have been scientifically researched and proven. This includes:


  1. Reducing stress and anxiety: The tranquility of the forest and the natural environment have a calming effect on the nervous system and can reduce stress and anxiety.

  2. Boosting the immune system: Phytoncides, the essential oils released by trees, can strengthen the immune system and improve the body's defenses.

  3. Improve mood: Forest bathing can stimulate the release of endorphins, thereby improving your mood.

  4. Increase concentration and creativity: Spending time in the forest can increase cognitive function and creativity.

  5. Lowering blood pressure: The relaxing effects of forest bathing can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.


Where is the best place for forest bathing in the Ahrntal valley?


The Ahrntal has large areas of forest and untouched nature and therefore offers a wealth of idyllic forest areas that are perfect for forest bathing - whether down in the valley, high up in the mountains, near thundering waterfalls or on the banks of an idyllic mountain lake. Here are some of the best places to have this healing experience:


  1. Reinbach Waterfalls: The Reinbach Waterfalls in Sand in Taufers are a truly magical place, with roaring water and surrounded by dense forest. The sound of the water, the pure air and the idyllic surroundings create a calming atmosphere ideal for forest bathing.

  2. Breite Rast:  The “Breite Rast” is located above Steinhaus, near lake “Klaussee”. The best way to reach it is via the “K-Express” cable car in the Klausberg ski area and a hike (approx. 1.5 hours). Once at the top, the combination of rustic trees, clear mountain air and wonderful panoramic views of the glaciers of the Zillertal Alps offer an incomparable forest bathing experience.

  3. Prettau health trail: The health trail in Prettau, in the rear end of the Ahrntal valley, offers, with its Kneipp facilities, ideal conditions for experiencing nature with all your senses. The path is entirely in the forest, so you can always find a comfortable place to meditate.

  4. Lake Trejer: Only about a 30-minute walk from the mountain station of the Speikboden cable car is the idyllic lake Trejer, in a sunny location at around 2,000 meters above sea level, surrounded by beautiful pine forests.


Overall, the Ahrntal offers an ideal environment in the middle of the South Tyrolean Alps, with direct access to nature. Listing all the idyllic places here would probably go beyond the scope of this article, as there are enough of them spread throughout the valley. So it's best to start looking for your favorite place for forest bathing yourself. This calming and healing practice is a wonderful way to enjoy nature in all its splendor while regenerating your body, mind and soul. Set off and immerse yourself in the fascinating mountain world of the Ahrntal valley!





Photo © Sebastian Unrau - unsplash.com

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