A whole lot of ABOUTS
about Eco-Psychology * about Yoga* about me* about you* about Applied Eco-Psychology * about EcoYogaTherapy
The study of human's health in connection (and disconnection) with Nature is called Eco-Psychology. There are two main branches: Eco-psychology and Applied Eco-psychology (AEP). The former MAY include the more structured testing methods and projects and will often include biofeedback and brain scans; the latter is rebuilding the skills personally to be able to be in contact with nature. It may sound strange that we need to relearn the skills to be with nature but so many people are used to being on their phones, stressed out, or see Nature as a playground, or something to be conquered...or, so overwhelmed by their mind chatter that being able to be present and with Nature takes some support, time, love and renewal of skill.
In the last 60+ years as technology has rocketed and our physical need to be in nature has decreased, scientists have noticed the effects of being disconnected from nature and have given a name to the stress it creates within us. With the rise of Nature Deficiency Disorder we need ways to find our way out of the excessive indoor time, progress, and busy-ness that our culture puts on a pedalstool. There are many intriguing studies that present us with the understanding that needing to be with Nature is innate and that when we disconnect it has detrimental effects that show up in many different ways.
We no longer know how to just be in nature, something that is integral to our wellbeing, and the effects of this are catching up with us; so much so that Doctors are prescribing Nature time to help with anxiety, depression, spiralling, insomnia, and over thinking, among other things.
Applied Eco-psychology (AEP) is more than the study of humans’ relationship with nature and how that affects our health. It is the unfolding of the training and stories we’ve received that nature is dangerous and needs to tamed, that we need a ‘middle-man’ to monitor our connection, and that the only way to survive in this world is the now traditional 9 to 5 work scenario.
We are asked to look at our negative beliefs about nature and to unwind the stories to see what is real in each moment, it asks us to reconnect not only with our external environment but our internal landscape and see how the two are intricately woven. Much of our stresses today are caused from seeking fulfillment, trying to have our needs met from a story and not from what is real for us. AEP doesn’t tell us what is real for us, but rather offers techniques so that we can start to unkink, unwind and reveal what’s real for ourselves. These techniques, exercises and questions help to reintegrate nature back into our daily lives.
Slowly, it becomes apparent that these nature disconnecting stories are deeply woven in our culture; from something simple as children stories about big bad wolves to having to eat at a time determined by a set time instead of when you’re hungry. These societal stories are at the base of our individual stories about nature and affect our relationship with nature. Many people are unaware that there is a relationship with nature to be had. That we are able to relate and communicate with nature is often a blind spot; our mind kicks into to say that we can’t talk with nature. Perhaps not in English, or French, or another human language, but nature has it’s own communication process that we are born fluent in. We are trained out of it, even rewarded for turning about backs on it, and eventually we find our value in our society by not remembering how to communicate with nature. Nature doesn’t speak in words but rather in attractions and we receive that communication via our senses.
This communication can be subtle, it may not immediately change your mind, or your world. Slowly, as you become more aware and fluent in the communication, the paradigm shift is apparent; how little thoughts can be the foundation for big beliefs and even bigger actions, and what that means for Nature.
Some of the core foundations of AEP are the return of the ability to use our 54 senses (not the 5 senses named around our organs), 9 legged communication (using human language to express nature communication so that our minds can open up to the understanding of the value of our connection with nature), gaining permission (we live in Earth, not on it), and nature disconnected stories aka wranglers (ex: having to raise your hand to ask to go pee).
We will be covering only the very basics of AEP in this course, enough understanding to weave Yoga and Applied Eco-Psychology together. If you would like to explore eco-psychology in more depth, there are many courses offered online through Global Institute of education, www.projectnatureconnect.org.
None of what is offered here will make any sense or help increase your understanding unless you actually go out and do the activities. AEP isn’t about impressing theory onto, or into, you. It’s value is in you realizing for yourself what is valuable to you.
Hello! My name is Natalie Forrest; I couldn’t have chosen a better last name for myself. It perfectly expresses the importance of nature in my yogic practice (and my life)!
I began learning yoga in the late 90’s, and immediately felt something in the practice click with me. I was searching for stability and a deeper understanding of myself, and I found both in yoga. I loved the physical aspects of it, but what really spoke to me was the insight it offered, the contemplation, and the techniques to focus my mind and be more present, the ability to access breath when I needed to. In short, I loved the entirety of yoga, not just the physical aspects of it that had become so popular. Most importantly, the practice gave me a language for something that I was already feeling. I didn’t fit myself into Yoga, I was already a fit.
I began teaching yoga in the early 2000’s because there was a need in our community (I was covering my teacher’s classes) and just kept right on going (with my teacher’s consent, of course).
At about the same time, I began my foray into Applied Eco-Psychology, and after a decade of study, in 2016 I earned my Doctorate of Philosophy in Applied Eco-Psychology from Akamai University. I have been asked to develop a certification and run the NatureConnectYoga program – and that’s what I am creating now.
Over the years, I have realized that my definition, understanding and insight into Yoga is very different than what is most commonly thought of – the physical practice is merely one leaf in a tree full of ways to practice yoga. My favourite and most valuable aspects of the practice are not the postures (although I do love how physical movement can filter, settled and restructure my mental and emotional states). And although I see this shift changing in Yoga studios, to me, the practice must be freed from the box and back into the wilds of intimate in-the-moment presence that includes honouring our senses and the information they share with us (not something to overcome or withdraw from).
Blending Applied Eco-Psycology with my personal yoga practice as well as in my teaching was a wonderful fit, and it only made sense to me to offer a more formal exploration of the relationship between the self, yoga practice and nature: welcome to Nature Connect!
We've plucked the asana flower from its garden, taken it from the very thing that makes it unique and beautiful, cut it off from it's wholeness.
We've put asana in a vase on our tables and exclaim how beautiful it is seldom realizing it's cry to be reconnected to the very thing it was plucked from.
Yoga isn't stretching, the asana are the conversation starters, an entry into understanding the interconnection of our bodies, minds, emotions, energy, others, life, and (imo) Nature.
The process of yoga is synonymous with Applied Eco- Psychology.
- you feel a draw to Nature, both your inner nature and the external nature – and how they weave together,
- have a desire to experience Yoga, and want to know how to use the yogic tools to have an organic experience of Yoga,
- you are seeking a practice that allows you to feel more than yourself,
- yearn for a practice that is deeply fulfilling and is more than the asana,
- you appreciate being able to look within and find insights and answers – and want to enhance or embrace that ability.
We’ll probably love working together if you…
- are open to contemplation and examination of self, and providing a supportive space for others as they do the same
- have an abiding love of nature, and desire a stronger understanding of connection in your practice,
- are a dedicated yogi at any level seeking to expand your knowledge and delve deeper into your practice,
- love nature, earth,
- see Yoga as a tool for realization – and a gentle activism.
EcoYogaTherapy arose organically when the parallels between Yoga and Applied EcoPsychology became apparent to me. I was helping yoga practitioners understand and language their eco-psychology, and in doing so, we found that their practices deepened and rooted in a way that was delightfully unexpected.
What arose was a deeper sense of connection, peace, and what dissolved was a desire to overcome the body but rather to listen to the communications and whispers. I believe the word used most often was a sense of relief and of coming HOME.