All Bodies Belong in Nature

Woman with grey hair wears a backpack and holds walking sticks as she walks along a forest path with a male companion behind her. Text reads All Bodies Belong in Nature.

All bodies belong in nature. When I did an image search for “people in nature,” what I saw didn’t match this. You can probably guess what most of the people in the photos looked like. We are all told to go outdoors, to spend time in nature, but what barriers exist that prevent some people from feeling comfortable, safe, and welcome in nature? Lack of representation of diverse bodies and abilities and racialized and other marginalized folx can make nature feel out of reach. For example, very few options exist for plus-sized technical gear to keep you safe and comfortable in outdoor pursuits. Getting into nature also is often presented as an athletic endeavour: hiking, mountain biking, climbing, paddling, trail running, etc. While all great activities, they may not be accessible or of interest to everyone. We know that being in nature is good for our mental and physical wellbeing. As a certified forest therapy guide, I always strive to make everyone feel comfortable, safe, and welcome. Whoever you are, you belong. Forest therapy is sometimes called forest bathing (from the Japanese shinrin yoku) and is a very open-ended, gentle practice that can be tailored to several mobility challenges and is accessible to everyone regardless of physical fitness. The practice is meant to slow us down more than we are accustomed to, helping us to connect through our senses to our surroundings and ourselves while only travelling a very short distance over a period of two to three hours. Studies have shown that it decreases stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, helps with depression and anxiety, and leaves you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Forest therapy helps you to build a relationship with nature and reminds you that you’re a part of it, not apart from it.

I’m thrilled to be collaborating with MT Consulting Group to offer a special forest therapy event: All Bodies Belong in Nature Forest Therapy Session on Saturday, October 1, 2022! The session will take place from 9:00am-12:00pm at the Beaver Hills Biodiversity Trail, Strathcona County. (Please note this site has some gentle inclines/declines. The path is wide and flat, but may be grassy, depending on when it has been last maintained. There are outhouse bathrooms in the parking lot. The entire walk is very slow-paced and we do not travel very far over the 3h period.)

Looking forward to welcoming you to forest therapy! Tickets (including free gifts from both Wild Calm Forest Therapy and MT Consulting Group) are available here.

Milena, Wild Calm Forest Therapy

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