Forest bathing keeps body and mind healthy and helps stressed people find themselves. In the Fichtelgebirge Nature Park, we watched Elke Seidel practise the Japanese "Shinrin Yoku"
Forest Bathing with Elke Seidel
Their feet roll cautiously across the mossy forest floor. They can feel the tree roots, a twig cracks softly. Far above, a chaffinch is singing its song. For about 20 minutes, the participants move through the forest at snail’s pace. They take their time and look out for every little detail.
Elke Seidel continues: "I have been very connected to nature since childhood. I love the exercise, the sport and the encounters with people. It is important to me to live in harmony with nature." The walking meditation is part of the three-hour forest bathing hike in the Fichtelgebirge Nature Park.
A Power Spot That Radiates Peace
Seidel did an additional five-day training course to become a forest health coach. She says: “It’s very exciting, as it’s not just about doing relaxation exercises outdoors, but more about discovering the forest as a partner for mindfulness, unwinding and sensory training.” Seidel explains further: “Even as a child I felt a close association with nature. I love exercise, sport and meeting people. For me, it’s important to live in harmony with nature.”
In Japan, forest bathing aka Shinrin Yoku is considered medicine
“In Bad Alexandersbad, I’ve found somewhere that for me personally is a really fun place to work.” Bad Alexandersbad is situated in the heart of the Fichtel Mountain Nature Reserve at the foot of the Luisenburg - making Bavaria’s smallest healing spa an energising spot in the eyes of the health expert, and one that radiates a lot of energy and peace.
Sharpening your senses
When Elke Seidel takes health-seeking holiday makers on a forest bathing tour, she tends to allow them a short time to get attuned to their surroundings before leaving the wide paths and entering the quiet world of the forest well off the beaten track.
Sometimes they go barefoot, or they stop to explore a pine cone with all their senses. What does it feel like? What does it smell of? Or one member of the group closes their eyes and is led by another for a few minutes through the forest. This reinforces mutual trust and sharpens the senses still further.
After a tea ceremony or a shared gratitude mandala, members of the group eventually leave the forest and say their farewells.
Healing Water and Moor Baths
In Bad Alexandersbad, Elke Seidel used to design health programmes for establishing a healthier daily lifestyle. The therapeutic products associated with Bad Alexandersbad - the healing water of the Luisenquelle spring and the moor baths - provide help and support to participants. Seidel explains: “Our beautifully designed therapy centre, the ALEXBAD, opened for business in 2017. Much of it is made from granite, which is very typical of our region. Other beautiful features include the modern castle terraces and the lovely historic spa gardens.”
More information about Bad Alexandersbad badalexandersbad.de (only in German)
... from Elke
Trip to the Ark Village
I’d warmly encourage you to visit the nearby district of Kleinwendern. It is Bavaria’s first Ark Village and the second in Germany – many of the inhabitants are passionate about working together to preserve rare livestock breeds. You can also go on a guided tour.
archedorf-kleinwendern.de (only in German)
Hike to the Kösseine
In my free time I love walking on our local mountain, the Kösseine, preferably through the unique Luisenburg rock labyrinth, an area of forest with a lot of very impressive granite blocks. The ascent takes one to two hours. And it’s truly worth the effort: the views are simply vast.
Fichtel Mountains Museum
With guests I like visiting the "Fichtelgebirgsmuseum" in Wunsiedel, which, among other things, tells the history of Bad Alexandersbad and the industrial history of the region. It is also housed in a very impressive medieval building, the Sigmund-Wann-Spital.
fichtelgebirgsmuseum.de (only in German)