Wellness and Nature

The following blog was written by my Yogi mentor and friend Lura. I think it is relevant to all Of us right now not just those who travel or who practice Yoga. 

Lura is a fountain of knowledge, I feel very lucky to have spent a month with her in the jungle of Costa Rica. Lura runs continued education for Yoga Teachers all Yoga alliance approved.  

We are planning to run a retreat in Costa Rica together in the near future

Nature builds Happiness and Positivity

 “Study Nature, love Nature, stay close to Nature. It will never fail you.” Frank Lloyd Wright

I choose to teach yoga teacher trainings in Costa Rica to step-out of the busyness of the world and to retreat to the jungle in the way that ancient yogis did thousands of years earlier surprisingly for the same reasons. When we are surrounded by nature anywhere that provides much more for us then we ever realize but now scientific research in both fields can provide us insight into the effects of a yoga/meditation practice and  being  surrounded by they are strongly aligned.

Research in a growing scientific field called Ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.  Here in the southern zone silence means the absence of man made sound, and it is not silent because the jungle always makes noise, insects, birds, animals, water (streams, waves, rain), leaves in the trees, calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response.  The yogic breathing practices called pranayama (life force) do the same allowing us to consciously control the breath gives us control of our central nervous system.  Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry.  The right level of Vitamin D in the body immune us against diseases like osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Besides, it also ensures the smooth functioning of the immune system.

Studies have found that those who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.

“When people are depressed or under high levels of stress, this part of the brain malfunctions, and people experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts,” says Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance

Digging a bit deeper, it appears that interacting with natural spaces offers other therapeutic benefits. For instance, calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response.

The visual aspects of nature can also have a soothing effect, according to Dr. Strauss. “Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry.”