Guided Forest Therapy Walks

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Photo by Mark Ellison

I offer guided Forest Therapy walks in the Asheville, Sylva, Bryson City and Great Smoky Mountains region of Western North Carolina. Walks offer an opportunity to slow down, disconnect and experience the restorative power of nature. Much like an instructor sets the pace and direction in a yoga class, a forest therapy guide sets the stage for participants to enjoy the natural environment through a series of invitations and a closing tea ceremony. With the host of health benefits associated with spending time in nature, including reduced stress and fatigue, enhanced creativity, heightened mood, and increased energy and resiliency,  a guided forest therapy walk offers a low impact way to enjoy nature.

 

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Fire Pink (Photo by Mark Ellison)

I learned about the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku or forest bathing from numerous meetings and conversations with Dr. Qing Li, who helped start the practice of Shinrin Yoku in Japan in the 1980’s. Based on collaborative efforts with Dr. Li and my doctoral research on the restorative benefits of nature, I was one of the first in the United States to offer Shinrin Yoku walks.   In 2014 Oprah Magazine published an article on Shinrin Yoku, which included information about my walks. In 2018, I completed the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs certification program for Forest Therapy Guides.

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Photo by Mark Ellison

I will be offering scheduled walks at Pinnacle Park in Sylva beginning in April 2019.  A schedule will be posted here. The cost for individual participants is $20. I also offer walks at other locations by request.

Email me to learn more about going on a guided forest therapy walk. I look forward to hearing from you and walking in the forest with you soon!

 

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5 thoughts on “Guided Forest Therapy Walks

  1. Are there any programs you know of for certification as a forest therapist? Do you provide any training? I am very interested in the field. Currently I lead hiking groups with high school students, but I would like to develop a program to help adults reap the health benefits of our many forests. I live in central pa., surrounded by state parks, natural areas, wonderful waterfalls and bogs, yet few in our community venture into the woods. I believe if they realized the benefits and were led by a knowledgable facilitator, they may feel more comfortable. I am a certified high school teacher with a counseling certification. I have hiked extensively for the last four or five years, and it has greatly improved the quality of my life. I have semi-retired and would like to dedicate myself to getting people into the woods! Thanks!!

    Cindy Way

  2. Dear Mark, I was delighted to find this page on your blog as I have not been here for a while.
    You are following your heart and using your remarkable knowledge and resources with your Shinrin Yoku classes. I am looking forward to sharing news about your work with my HT students this week, especially as they will be embarking on some “forest bathing” with me in a lovely forest close to our classroom. All the best, Ann Kent HTM.

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