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What is forest bathing? The wellness practice is booming in the PNW

The founder of Cascadia Forest Therapy says it’s a unique co-op that cultivates greater accessibility to the healing benefits of nature connection practices.

SEATTLE — Decades of researching the physiological and psychological benefits of time spent in nature indicate that humans function best with regular, purposeful experiences in nature.

Forest bathing, at its core, is the act of connecting with nature. 

Cascadia Forest Therapy Founder Michael Stein-Ross said forest bathing is more than just a walk in the woods.

“We can focus on what it isn’t. It isn’t a hike and there’s no destination,” Stein-Ross said. 

Stein-Ross said in many ways it’s teaching adults to remember what it was like when they were little and full of wonder.  

“It’s like adults playing…really slowly…in the forest,” Stein-Ross said.

Cascadia Forest Therapy is a self-directed non-profit. Stein-Ross says it’s a unique co-op that cultivates greater accessibility to the healing benefits of nature connection practices.  

Forest bathing has been booming over the past couple of months. The sensory immersion experience became more and more popular during the pandemic and the last several sessions have been sold out.  

Stein-Ross said it’s an experience that’s most effective if it becomes a regular wellness practice. He compares it to Yoga, meditation and even church. 

Cascadia Forest Therapy knows the end of summer and early Fall can induce a lot of anxiety for busy parents and students alike.  

Stein-Ross is a high school humanities teacher who enjoys taking students out for experimental learning and thinks the parents would also benefit from a foliage-filled field trip.

“We are gonna wander, we’re gonna sit and engage through our senses,” Stein-Ross said.  

The practice impacts more than just stress levels. According to Cascadia Forest Therapy, it can boost one's immune system, it can regulate blood pressure and can have a positive effect on psychological distress such as depression and anxiety.

Forest bathing is a modern and slightly different variation of the Japanese practice known as Shinrin-Yoku. 

Stein-Ross said he is excited to continue to invite more people to make forest bathing a part of their wellness routine.

Cascadia Forest Therapy currently has five guides in the co-op and offers sessions around the greater Seattle area with accessibility in mind. 

Several experiences are planned for September and book up quickly. For more information, visit their website.

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