Healing the body and the mind in nature

When we hear the word health we often immediately think about our physical wellbeing. Being physically fit and healthy is paramount but mental health is no less important. When we are both physically and mentally well we are able to experience positive feelings and enjoy our happy moments in life. In modern life it can be a puzzle to meet all the demands we feel there are in our lives every day and even though more people are aware of the importance of stepping out of our daily stress there are still many whose stress levels are continually too high.

It is important to take the focus off outward things and listen to our bodies and feel our feelings. In order to do that we need to be peaceful and stop thinking about doing and focusing on being.

Untreated stress can be the cause of many illnesses. As much as it is a natural response to feel stress every now and then, it can be dangerous to have constant stress in our lives. Stress is now the biggest cause of people having to take sick leave, because it can cause depression, anxiety and a lot of other illnesses. Therefore, it is vital to nip it in the bud and make sure we are not riding the stress wave every day.

Nature, yoga and yoga nidra

More people are now using yoga and yoga nidra as a tool to center themselves, look inside and feel a healing calm. There are many schools of yoga that emphasize different aspects, such as poses, meditation, restoration, mantras and breathing techniques. Yoga nidra is an ancient form of meditation which is used to increase balance and wellbeing, but the term yoga nidra means yogic sleep and it can be described as a guided meditation where you are lying down. When we are deep in meditation our brain slows down and we experience a state that is much like deep sleep.

But nature is also on our side. Most people who regularly hike outside  in nature will tell you about the mental and physical benefits of being active in outdoors. You don’t always have to run up a mountain to feel the benefits, you can also go on long walks to experience the positive effects and the joy that comes with it. Just being outdoors is a healing experience and breathing in the fresh air and being in the beautiful Icelandic nature is a nurturing experience like no other.

Organized walks in nature

Edith Gunnarsdóttir is the owner of the Well being Center Hugarsetrid and she is a yoga teacher, a consultant and a guide with The Iceland Touring Associaion (Ferðafélag Íslands). For the last few years she has been running a program with organized health walks in nature that combine the outdoors and yoga in order to improve the overall health of the participants. The people in the program meet two times a week and begin the week by going on an easy walk close to Reykjavik and at the end of the week they have a yoga nidra session.

Edith was one of the first people in Iceland to conduct a research into the benefits of yoga nidra on depression, anxiety and stress. Her findings show that yoga and yoga nidra improved the lives of the participants in numerous ways. They felt less stressed, more relaxed, felt better about themselves, were more positive and felt overall happier. Here you can read more about the research.

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