Austria’s benefits are not to be sniffed at
Breathing is an integral part of meditation and mindfulness, but sometimes in the capital it’s the last thing you want to do. Sure, you want to inhale and exhale deeply to experience calming breaths, but not if it means inadvertently hoovering up the scent of exhaust fumes or a crowded tube carriage.
Fresh air is something the capital certainly lacks in abundance, so to remedy that, you might want to head off somewhere where the earthy smell of pine needles is au natural, rather than the air freshener in your late night Uber.
A whopping 47.6 per cent of Austria is home to forests, the equivalent to 5.5 million football pitches. In turn, this boasts the fresh scents of earth and wet moss, connecting you to the land, while wood and pine needles give your nose further respite from the fumes of the capital. And if that isn’t enough to cleanse your pallet, the abundant flora including Edelweiss, Red Vanilla Orchid and Blue Monkshood will provide the smell of success.
Austria plays host to seven national parks and 48 nature parks, like Lungau in SalzburgerLand, a place made for slowing down, catching your breath and inhaling the revitalising aroma of 50,000 flowers every June, and the Silberregion Karwendel valley in Tirol’s Karwendel mountains, which boasts the sweet scent of 2,200 maple trees all year round.
If this isn’t enough to wipe away the stale smell of your local bus route, a herb hike in Hochkönig in SalzburgerLand will tantalise your nose at one of the 16 herb farms around Maria Alm, Dienten and Mühlbach. With the fragrance of oils, breads, liqueurs or jams hanging heavy in the air, you can even experience the fruits of your labours, with dishes, teas, salves, and spirits made from the fragrant local wares
The herb hiking trails also showcase the most natural of resources which Austria is famous for. For centuries, the characteristics of the wood known as Zirbe (Stone Pine) have been harnessed for good, and not only for building safe havens. The pleasant aroma is believed to help reduce heart frequency, improve sleep and promote wellbeing. The Piztal Valley in Tirol plays host to one of the largest Stone Pine populations in the Eastern alps, and as you wind your way through the tree-lined trail from the middle station of the Hochzeiger mountain railway, you’re quite probably breathing in a large dose of wellness.
It’s probably fair to say your mindset (and your lungs) could really benefit if you simply swap Wood Green for Austria’s woods and greenery