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  • Ashley Brown

Nature is Healing


Since the I moved out to California, and now moved back to my home state Florida, I have learned to get out of my city girl tendencies and explore nature. I remember the first "real" hike I went on with my college roommates they remarked on how I dressed as if I was a contestant on a modeling show. I laughed because that was a fact that I didn't know how to dress for my surrounds in the Bay Area. All I knew of nature from almost 20 years prior was the beach and trying not to get fried by the sun. I have explored some amazing places over this vast country.




Growing up in a generation where the TV raised me and also working so hard each week as a young dancer training over 36 hrs before the age of 18. Staying indoors and resting has been my go-to for self-care. Now as an adult and no longer a full-time caregiver nor a professional dancer, I find myself getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. Out in the wilderness of our beautiful country. I have had the pleasure of hiking through ancient Britslecone Pine Forest, through the foggy Bay side Muir Woods, Red Clay Sedona mountains, and currently the ancient hammocks of Florida.


What I have learned from my past beach blob day trips to nature walks is: Nature is Healing! From the moment of getting out of the car to hearing the crunching dirt under my boots, to the fresh fresh unpolluted air, I feel the calmness of my mind and the symbiotic relationship of humans and nature.


My life's work is dedicated to supporting movement for all people in all walks in life. Whether that is through traditional ballet training, gentle yoga movements, or reclaiming self and story through TRE (Tension/Trauma Releasing exercises). To move the body is to allow healing to happen from the bottom up. Without going through the stories and over thinking of who, what, where, when, why. The bottom up approach or somatic or body based approach is what I found to be healing on my journey. What has helped me stay connected in the present moment and not go into overwhelm.


Pair these healing modalities, which have been scientifically studied to reduce stress and reduce the symptoms of trauma (ie PTSD and C-PTSD), you've got a double dose of natural de-stress anti-anxiety for the nervous system. Now don't get my words twisted, just because these are 2 major natural ways to de-stress doesn't mean I am support non-pharmaceuticals and other professional modalities. They are all interconnected and always work with your doctor and make a plan to come into a place of balance.




How is Nature Healing?


There was a scientific study done in Japan for individuals who were feeling work related stress and anxiety. In this study they brought these office workers into the forest for a 2-3day experiment of just being in nature and how that would affect their emotional and mental well-being. We now call this Forest Bathing or Shinrin-yoku. The researches found that the participants who spent time in nature experienced lessen symptoms of anxiety and stress.






 




Blue Therapy

This is a new type of nature-based destressing and name for something I think we might have all done when going to the beach. Stare off into the horizon, stare into the ever changing colors of the waters, sit in the sand and breath in the salty ocean air. This is a new concept and study called Blue Therapy, researchers have found that those who visit the ocean often and or live near the ocean can have lower affects of some stress and anxiety prone individuals. I cannot promote this as a one pill fix all, but I can say that it is helpful to get lost in the vastness of staring out into the ocean. Or laying in the sand and listening to the ocean breeze and taking a nap.




 

Being in nature is so beneficial to not only our nervous systems but also provides us with fresh air, and vitamins and minerals. Nature helps us stay in tune with our natural circadian rhythm. This not only is just about you sleep cycle within the 24hrs period of the day, but also your eating and working habits and timing of that. In Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga) they teach us about our personal Ayurvedic clock which is supporting our dominate doshas (three main constitutes which are present in the person's body and mind). I encourage you to find your circadian rhythm, your internal clock that best supports you. If you would like help with this or knowing more about your doshas, here is an online quiz that can get you started.





 




I have found myself not wanting to leave these places of nature when I am out camping or teaching beach yoga as I feel supported by the natural world around me. I have personally felt these benefits of connection to self, lessen my anxiety, and release of stress when I am in nature. I am not promoting this as a cure all nor a stance to abandon both kinds of medicines. I hope to promote the the care of self and the wonder and care of the world around us as we are very specifically designed to be in connection with. Where ever you find yourself in the day or what types of nature, I hope that it lovingly remind us that we are animals living in a world that depends on biodiversity, symbiotic relationships and interdependence.





Take care of yourself and explore your nature!





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