Picture yourself walking through the woods listening to the birds, or stolling along a beach while the waves crash beside you — sounds relaxing, right? One of the many reasons for that correlation is how our instinctively brain reacts to sounds of nature. Bottom line, hearing natural noises like rain, wind, or birds is now proven to relax you, according to a recent study published in Scientific Reports. It's part of why "forest bathing" has become such a wellness trend, and why simply living near trees can help you recover from illnesses faster.
Immersing yourself into a relaxing, natural atmosphere is also defining element of our at-home exercise show Namaste Yoga. On the show, a cast of experienced yogis lead a practice shot in gorgeous natural locations throughout the Pacific Northwest — it'll transport you into nature from the comfort of your living room. Learn more about the show and watch clips here, plus find out where you can tune in.
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How Different Types Of Sounds Influence Our Nervous Systems.
The locations of Namaste Yoga produce some of the types of natural sounds explored in the study, run by researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in England. The researchers took 17 healthy adult volunteers and gave them functional magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRIs) while listening to a medley of five-minute soundscapes recorded from natural and manmade environments.
Researchers monitored volunteers’ heart rates, and changes in their autonomic nervous systems—which supports involuntary things like breathing, temperature, and digestion. Among the researchers’ many findings, they discovered that listening to artificial sounds created patterns of inward-focused attention — a mode of thinking associated with depression and anxiety — while nature sounds inspired subjects to look outward.
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Here’s ten hours of rain that over 23 million people have listened to for relaxation.
Additionally, as Health reports, “Nature sounds were associated [in the study] with a decrease in the body’s sympathetic response (which causes that “flight-or-flight” feeling) and an increase in parasympathetic response—the one that helps the body relax and function in normal circumstances.”
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So, I Have To Go Outside More To Calm Down?
Yes and no. Yes, go outside and enjoy the relaxing sounds of the wind. In addition to the noise, the outdoors has so much more to offer your health. It is the original gym, accommodating swimming, running, climbing, yoga and so much more. Additionally, fresh air is good for your heart, immune system, mind, and digestive system.
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Here’s eight hours of birds chirping and a running creek that over 17 million people have listened to for relaxation.
No, you don’t have to feel totally guilty about sitting in front of the computer and not being outside right now.
In addition to the many YouTube videos dedicated to nature sounds, there are countless albums and apps as well. For example, Free Relaxing Nature Sounds is one wallet-friendly way that will help you chill out. For something a little more interactive, try Noizio, where you can overplay different soundscapes at levels you choose. So, if you want to sprinkle some inward reflection into your nature-zen-time, you can listen overplay soundscapes like October Rain with Paris Cafe.