Spanning over 42 kilometers (about 26.1 mi), the picturesque trail system in Las Catalinas is adorned with dramatic hills, breathtaking views, and beautiful tropical dry forest flora and fauna. Town’s mountain biking, hiking and running haven presents the perfect space for a diverse range of experiences on our multiuse paths. Amidst the allure of adventure that these trails provide, an added invitation awaits: the opportunity for serene forest bathing.
The Rejuvenating Power of Nature
In 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries created the term shinrin-yoku, which translates to “forest bathing” or “absorbing the forest atmosphere.” The practice simply encourages humans to spend time in nature consciously. Japan integrated this mobile meditation into its national health program.
This is not just a walk in the woods, it is the conscious and contemplative practice of immersing oneself in the forest's sights, sounds and fragrances. We have highlighted one circuit in town that stands out for its lush and concentrated vegetation in dark blue in the map below. The area is perfect for forest bathing and deepening the connection with nature that we all strive to experience.
Health Benefits of Shinrin-Yoku and the Great Outdoors
The moment one steps into nature — whether it is a forest, jungle, beach, or park — a remarkable shift occurs. Anxiety lessens, heartbeats and breathing rates slow, and cortisol levels decrease, improving hormonal balance. Within 15 to 20 minutes, attention spans expand, allowing us to better solve complex cognitive tasks. With three days of immersing oneself in nature, the human prefrontal cortex undergoes a rejuvenating reset, leading to peak creativity and productivity, and leaving your body in a more calm and relaxed state.
Spending time outdoors brings the added benefit of increased exposure to sunlight, and therefore a boost of vitamin D. The restorative effects of vitamin D exposure include a boost of both serotonin and melatonin, contributing to cognitive function and mood improvement. ￼
Engaging in physical activity naturally lowers obesity rates and heart rate diseases, so adding movement to your outdoors meditation further enhances the health benefits. Research shows that dedicating merely 10 to 20 minutes daily to outdoor activities can result in elevated well-being and happiness, and a reduction of stress levels.
How To Forest Bathe
If you are considering trying our suggested route for forest bathing, hiking or even mountain biking, we have a few recommendations for making the most of your time in nature.
- The goal of forest bathing is to relax and detach, and be in awe of your surroundings, so go at a leisurely pace
-Practice for at least 20 minutes daily when possible but be gentle with yourself as you start.
- Do not bring anything but yourself, water, sunscreen, bugspray or other necessities
-Refrain from taking pictures.
-Find something alive, interact with it.
-Listen to the sounds, absorb fragrances, and take in the sights of the forest using all your senses, whether it is the scent of clean ocean air, a chorus of chirping birds, or how the trees sway in the wind -Take a moment to pause, take a few deep breaths and center yourself.
-No matter how much time you spend outdoors, remember to look for moments that make you feel amazement — or awe.
Experiencing Nature from Anywhere
As modern times evolve, the gap between humanity and our natural world widens. We spend most of our days in front of screens or surrounded by walls, limiting our innate nature to be outdoors. There is a rationale to incorporate parks, trees, and pockets of nature mixed in throughout even the largest cities in the world’s busy streets. Spending time in an urban park can have a positive impact on a person’s sense of well-being.
While the word “forest” is in the name of this practice, heading out to a jungle is not required. You could take a trip to a beach, park, or any natural setting. Be sure to turn off or silence your phone or other devices. The key is to practice mindfulness and awe. Be present and fully in the moment.
The wonderful thing about forest bathing is that it is an incredibly minimal impact activity, which means you don’t have to go for intense trail runs or hikes, making it accessible to all ages and mobility levels. If you cannot go outside, consider closing your eyes and listening to a nature soundtrack, and let yourself be transported back to nature
Keep Seeking Moments of Wonder
Unlike some cities and towns, Las Catalinas has been planned to allow urbanism to coexist with nature, providing residents with easy access to it within seconds. Improvements to the trail system are ongoing, and updates will always be announced. The goal of forest bathing is to live in the present moment while immersing your senses in the sights and sounds of a natural setting. So, seize the moment, step outside, and get in touch with your natural surroundings. Relish the beauty that Las Catalinas trail system has to offer.
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