Leave the world behind
Enjoy some time offline: Something that is often difficult at the heart of the hustle and bustle of urban life is suddenly as easy as can be when surrounded by nothing but treetops and forest floors. Sometimes, all you need in order to switch off and relax is yourself, an idyllic forest spot and senses ready to embrace the world around them, as is perfectly proven by what is known as "forest bathing". Originating from a long-standing Japanese tradition, this pastime combines a mindful stroll through the woods with the healing effect of nature. In fact, the positive effect of time spent in the forest for relaxation and recuperation has been scientifically proven for many years.
Be it the warming benefits of sunlight, the pure forest air or the gentle exercise, a walk through the woods is full of advantages and even suitable for therapeutic purposes. With the beauty of nature, a calming and peaceful atmosphere, the typical sounds of an unspoiled natural setting and the chance to mindfully take in your surroundings, a "bathing excursion" to the forest is a thoroughly worthwhile experience – for body, mind and soul.
Head into the forest
How about swapping your favourite spot on the couch for a tree stump, asphalt for a soft forest floor and city smog for a pine-scented breeze? And what about following your deepest intuitions for the first time in a long time? It only takes a few steps through the woods for us to realise that we are true children of the forest at heart, to embrace the feeling of the mossy undergrowth beneath our feet and the warmth of the sunlight glistening through the leafy canopy.
The forest areas in the Innsbruck region are an infinite paradise for the soul, and what's more, you can pretty much explore and enjoy them to your heart's content. The only rule to bear in mind: "Leave nothing but a footprint". After all, if we want the forest to keep on filling us with energy as a place of power, we need to value it and care for it like the treasure it is. The easiest thing about "forest bathing" is probably also its most unusual attribute: this walk in the woods has no destination. It's not about putting your fitness to the test but simply a matter of having a good time, both during and after your forest bathing session. Be it on your own or in the best of company, this walk is all about you – you and the forest.
Why not give it a try? Here's a brief guide to get you started:
- Slow down: find somewhere to sit down and relax.
- Concentrate on your breathing: let your mind run free and if any thoughts try to interrupt, let them go and focus on inhaling and exhaling. Breathe deeply in and out.
- Notice the sounds around you: listen in all directions. Be patient; it may take time for the sounds of the forest to become louder than your thoughts.
- If you haven’t already done so yet, close your eyes. This will help you better perceive what your ears are hearing.
Based on: Qing Li: Die wertvolle Medizin des Waldes. Wie die Natur Körper und Geist stärkt. (The Valuable Medicine of the Forest: How Nature Strengthens the Body and Soul) Rowohlt Polaris, Reinbek 2018
Favourite green retreats
If you have acquired a coniferous taste for forest bathing, you will find a multitude of wonderful green oases of well-being in the Innsbruck region. We’ve marked a few insider tips on this map. Now all that remains is to leave the world behind and head into the forest!
The Landhotel Stern has dedicated its efforts to creating a unique and valuable oasis of calm in an often hectic world. The larch meadows are the perfect place for this, transforming the concept of "forest bathing" into what has become known as "larch bathing", surrounded by conifer trees. There are various ways to experience the soothing green of the larch meadows – options are available weekly from April to October:
One way, for example, is to enjoy an emotional "Larch bathing excursion" with Elfi, where you leave your shoes at home and experience the feel of nature right under your feet. Or why not try a relaxing yoga session in the larch meadows with Andreas? You can choose from various relaxation packages at any time, including a larch bathing ticket, picnic basket, blanket and hammock or yoga mat. If you like, you can even treat yourself to a bottle of wine to really celebrate the larch bathing experience.