You’ve got this – stay grounded like a tree
by Hilary Harker
Work, relationships, finances, noise pollution, parenting, social media, loneliness are common reasons for people taking timeout for forest therapy. Guests tell us that spending time under the canopy of trees doing gentle yoga stretches and lying on the ground is when they notice a shift within themselves, that connecting with the earth like this is a profound, nurturing experience. Many say that memories of their childhood such as climbing and playing in the trees, lying on their backs watching the leaves fall and the clouds float overhead come to mind. By getting back into nature they find stability within themselves.
Our forest bathing grounding exercise takes place standing in a circle under a canopy of trees. Guests are invited to remove their shoes and just stand on the earth, exploring the sensations under the feet and toes, gently shifting their weight from heels to toes, side to side until they find a comfortable centre. Then, shaking hands and arms we shake off old themes and patterns and let go of things that no longer serve us. We ‘stand our ground’ and just breathe. After a few gentle yoga stretches to loosen up, and expand the thoracic area, we lie down on our backs supported by the earth and fully experience the essence of the forest.
We feel good in nature and modern science shows us that having a strong connection with nature supports us on a deep cellular level. This biophilic force is our healing bond with nature – we become ill when we disconnect from nature. As a Yoga teacher I see more and more new students joining a yoga class because they are feeling ‘disconnected’. They describe it as a feeling of losing connection with their present physical reality. Crippling episodes of anxiety and panic attacks leave them exhausted and in turmoil, caught up in their spiralling thoughts and emotions.
In Yoga, grounding is part of our daily practice, feet on the ground connected to the earth, gravity at play. There is no action of doing, rather it is a letting go to sense a dropping into the earth. Feeling supported and held by the earth can be a humbling experience which helps reduce stress and tension in the body and mind. Being rooted in your physical body, whether seated or standing, breathing slow regular breaths helps to clear stagnation and blockages in your body’s energy. Working more consciously with grounding energy brings with it stability, balance, harmony and tranquillity.
Hilary Harker is co-founder of Forestbathingcapetown