The Presence of Plants at OM
“The roots of the plants and trees appeared through a dim transparency of the soil; I discerned the inward flow of their sap.” – Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi
It is evident that nature and its processes are inherent in yoga. The most fundamental precept of yoga breath itself or pranayama, would not be possible without plants. Humans and animals take in oxygen and create carbon dioxide as a byproduct and plants do the exact opposite; an elegant symbiosis of balancing opposition, much like the opposing but balancing forces taught in yoga. Our engagement with the world’s flora is an essential phenomenon for life, so it is no surprise that the presence of plants has a profound effect on human health and wellness.
Plants as wellness therapy:
Having constant fresh snack-age from the prolific gardens at OM is always great, but it turns out there’s a world of health benefits that come from simply being around plants. It’s called “horticultural therapy” and it is touted for its major stress reduction qualities.
Simply viewing plants has been proven to reduce blood pressure and decrease the production of cortisol and adrenaline. This has a renewing effect on the brain, much like meditative practices. Once the mind has a chance to rest the more rigorous functional processes, the brain is restored and better able to focus on directed tasks. For this reason, “forest bathing” has been recommended as treatment for ADHD, anxiety, chronic stress and mental illness. In fact in Japan, forest bathing is prescribed as a treatment and covered by insurance. The UK is also on it’s way to incorporating plant therapy into its medical system.
Pranayama with Plants: Natural cancer prevention
Breathing around plants has been shown to fight cancerous cells. Airborne chemicals called phytoncides are released by plants that have natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. When we breathe in fresh air our bodies respond to these phytoncides by producing “natural killer” cells, a white blood cell that kills tumor- and virus-infected cells in the body. It’s almost as if the body recognizes the regenerative healing process the plants are undergoing and is triggered to do the same. It’s an amazing undercover phenomenon that explains the age-old, “fresh air will do you good.”
I can definitely attest to a major transformation in my personal well-being since living at OM’s hillside jungle sanctuary. I feel more astute to the smells and sounds of nature and an overall sense of ease has been added to my sense of wellbeing.
So if you’re in the need for some forest bathing or just want to enjoy the regenerative benefits of horticultural therapy, stroll on through OM’s vibrant garden and simply inhale.
To learn more about the benefits of plants on the endocrine system check out these links. Namaste 🙂