4 ways to relax in South Australia's national parks

4 ways to relax in South Australia’s national parks

Spend­ing time in nature is great for your well­be­ing. Here’s how you can use it to ben­e­fit your mind, body and soul.

Nation­al parks are full of calm­ing things, like dozens of shades of green, fresh air, the sound of run­ning water, bird calls, or sim­ple, beau­ti­ful silence. Take advan­tage of these draw­cards and super­charge your relax­ation rou­tine with these four relax­ing activities:

1. Med­i­ta­tion

What is it? Mod­ern med­i­ta­tion can take many forms, rang­ing from sim­ple breath­ing exer­cis­es to some­thing far deep­er and more spir­i­tu­al. All types of med­i­ta­tion aim for a last­ing sense of peace and calm. 

How do I do it? Med­i­tat­ing can be as easy as sit­ting some­where com­fort­able, breath­ing deeply and relax­ing your mus­cles, or you can add exer­cis­es designed to qui­eten the mind. There are a num­ber of smart­phone apps avail­able for guid­ed med­i­ta­tion, and many even offer a free trial.

You may find it eas­i­er to med­i­tate in a nat­ur­al place like a nation­al park, espe­cial­ly when you are start­ing out. The peace­ful set­ting removes exter­nal dis­trac­tions, while the nat­ur­al habi­tat and sounds will increase your sense of wellbeing. 

4 ways to relax in South Australia's national parks

2. For­est bathing

What is it? Also known as shin­rin-yoku, for­est bathing is a pop­u­lar prac­tice in Japan. Essen­tial­ly, it means to immerse your­self in nature, and it has been shown to have great effects like low­er­ing blood pres­sure and heart rate, and even the pro­duc­tion of stress hormones.

How do I do it? Take an hour or 2 and go for a gen­tle walk in the bush, con­cen­trat­ing on your sur­round­ings rather than speed or dis­tance. You could also just sit under a tree and relax, notic­ing the colours, sounds, scents and tex­tures around you.

Touch things like leaves, bark and stones. Let the bird calls wash over you and watch the way the shade patch­es move on the ground. Take your shoes off and feel the grass or dirt beneath your feet. Look at small things close­ly, like flow­ers, insects and seed pods, and real­ly appre­ci­ate them.

4 ways to relax in South Australia's national parks

3. Yoga

What is it? The prac­tice of yoga orig­i­nat­ed in India, and includes med­i­ta­tion and mov­ing the body into spe­cif­ic pos­es that encour­age flex­i­bil­i­ty, relax­ation and, for some peo­ple, deep spirituality.

How do I do it? Start with a basic class or even just a how-to video from the inter­net to learn some easy pos­es, then take what you’ve learned to your local park. When prac­tis­ing yoga out­side, you might pre­fer to stick to stand­ing pos­es to keep your hands and clothes clean, but if you have a soft grassy sur­face, you could expand your range. Remem­ber to breathe deeply through­out your ses­sion to take full advan­tage of that fresh air.

4 ways to relax in South Australia's national parks

4. Tai chi

What is it? Tai chi is a Chi­nese mar­tial art with gen­tle, grace­ful moves that are paired with deep breath­ing, and can be prac­tised by peo­ple of all ages.

How do I do it? Like yoga, a basic class or how-to video is a good place to learn some sim­ple moves. Tai chi moves are designed to flow into each oth­er, so your body is always in motion. Many peo­ple prac­tise tai chi out­doors, alone or in groups, so a park is the per­fect place.

4 ways to relax in South Australia's national parks

Look­ing for the per­fect park for your next out­door relax­ation ses­sion? Vis­it Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Service’s web­site for some ideas close to you. Already zen? Check out these must-do adven­tures in SA’s nation­al park.

(Main image cour­tesy of Asso­ci­a­tion of Nature and For­est Ther­a­py Guides and Programs)

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in March 2018.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living