How do you create joy out of nothing? Take a Joy Walk in nature to unlock the happiness hidden within your body. Joy Walk is a unique experience filled with fun activities that show you how to tap nature and movement to make the invisible, visible.
Our modern lifestyles often fix our body posture into set routines. You follow a daily and weekly schedule with a limited range of activities. As a result, a lot of our actions and emotions become restricted and brittle. The negative effects reveal themselves over time.
The Joy walk releases trapped emotions and hidden stress within the body. Through the creative ideas, you bring fluidity and flexibility not just to your body, but also to your mind.
Joy Walk Guidelines
Here are the simple principles of Joy walk, captured in 3 lines.
When you move, create harmony
When you are still, create awareness
Being in rhythm with nature, create joy
Do not force you body to perform. Let the movements happen naturally. Create a flow and go with it. There is no need to carry any props or music for the walk. The sounds and gifts of nature are enough.
Joy Walk Activities
Typically the duration of the Joy Walk ranges from 60~120 minutes. Take a slow walk through nature and pause at regular intervals to carry out the different activities mentioned below. The design of Joy Walk moves from group engagements to pairs and ends with solo time in nature. Feel free to experiment, modify, and adapt.
The group forms a circle and raise their hands up in the air. Pretend the hands are leaves on a tree. A gentle breeze blows, creating a wave that moves along the circle. Slowly the wind starts picking up speed swaying the leaves with increasing gust. And then a storm comes and blows all the leaves away. The leaves dance away in the wind and finally come to rest on the ground.
Who am I dance
Each person introduces themselves as an object from nature. Instead of stating the name, the participant has to depict the nature object through movement or a dance.
After each introduction the entire group copies the move.
Weather In Your Heart
A variation of the introduction exercise: Participants are asked to introduce themselves through a movement that depicts the weather in their heart. It’s an interesting way to connect with our inner state of being. Also to observe that just like the weather, it keeps changing.
Tiger and Deer (Optional)
In this fun activity, we mimic a play from nature. The group forms a circle. A moderator takes a round outside the circle and secretly taps any one participant on the back. The chosen member is the tiger, while the rest of the group are deer. When the moderator gives the signal, all members start walking around inside the circle.
The deer have to try and guess who the tiger is. If anyone makes a wrong guess they will have to move out. Meanwhile the tiger can kill any deer by looking into their eyes and blinking. Any deer who gets blinked at, has to quietly fall to the ground.
In the next round, moderator can choose more than one tiger without telling the others. Sit back and enjoy the confusion that ensues.
Form small groups. The moderator calls out any landscape or creature from nature. All groups have to arrange themselves in a form that depicts the landscape or creature. The moderator does a reverse countdown: 10, 9, 8,…1
On the count of 1 all groups have to freeze and hold still.
When the moderator points at any group, they add movement to the formation that has been created. For example: If they made a cow, then the cow has to move when the moderator points to them. If they created a rainforest, then the group brings the rainforest to life.
Form pairs. One person from each pair becomes a silent still lake, and mirrors the actions of the partner. Reflect not just the actions but also the emotions.
Switch roles between the partners after a few minutes.
Prey and Predator
This activity is also done in pairs. Choose any prey and predator from nature.
Each pair has to create a one minute performance – revealing the prey first, then the predator and finally the confrontation between the prey and predator.
Create small groups of 4-5 people. One person in each group becomes the sound for the team. Together the group has to pick up any species in nature and depict its entire life-journey in 2 minutes. The performers can move but not speak. The voice person can narrate the story or add sound effects.
Dance of Stillness
End the walk by giving each participant 5 minutes of quiet time in nature. Ask them to observe the dance of nature. Notice not just the things which are moving but also the movement within stillness. Imagine the flow of water pulsing within trees. Imagine the blood coursing in our body. Imagine the Earth moving through space. And imagine the river of time carrying us all. Every atom in the universe is in motion.
At the end of the quiet time, there can be a closing circle for participants to share any insights or experiences from the Joy Walk.
Joy Walk: Movement, Mind, Nature
53 years ago Marian Chace began using dance to help severely disturbed psychiatric patients in a Washington hospital. Her pioneering work and teaching lay the groundwork for the field of movement therapy, which its practitioners define as the guided use of movement to bring about changes in feeling, cognition, physical functioning and behaviour.
“There is a misconception that movement therapists work just with the body. In fact, they work through the body to make the unconscious available.”~ Jean Seibel
By combining Movement and Nature we are able to amplify the benefits of both. The latest research has shown that connecting with Nature has a wide variety of benefits for our mind, body, and relationship skills. You can learn more about it through the charming Japanese practice of Forest Bathing.
Given the limited time we get to spend outdoors, this Joy walk can help you bring about a range of positive changes. It allows people of different age groups to come together for a joyful experience – creating happiness, wisdom, and growth.
Let us know what you think of the Joy Walk. We rely on you to helps us spread the joy. Please share this page with friends who might find it useful.
If you haven’t already, you can join our Nature Inspiration Newsletter to get new ideas and inspiration each month. To collect more walks and many other tools, try our Nature Calm course.
Healing Forest is a volunteer driven project that aims to bring people and forests closer to each other through creativity and mindfulness. Our aim is simple. Helping people heal. Helping forests heal.
One day a few years ago, I got very creative. This only happened once. The trees were dancing in the wind. It was a hot July day and the endorphins must have been working overtime. I was running down the forested trail and thoughts of big dinasoars approaching from the trees made me run even faster. I really got my heart rate up and felt like I was in a scene from Jurasic Park. It happened only once. Usually I stop and walk fast intermitently with running. That day, nature tooking me back millions of years and I had a unique adventure!