Mindful Outdoor Guide Certification, Level 1: Forest Community



Now online! As a Level 1 Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Guide, you gain foundational skills to lead individuals and small groups in connecting mindfully with nature. This training is perfect for yoga teachers, outdoor guides and educators, Ayurvedic practitioners, yoga therapists, and anyone who is passionate about sharing with others the benefits of being in nature.

You learn the basics of nature connection and community-building, including:

  • The 9 Steps of a Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Experience This practice, a unique method that provides a complete experience of connection with self, place, and community that is accessible, potent, and intuitive, is a signature of Kripalu programming and philosophy.
  • Forest Bathing Fundamentals Forest bathing, or shinrin yoku, is the practice of taking in the forest’s atmosphere through all the senses. This practice is a potent, proven method for relieving stress, boosting mood and immunity, and fostering deeper bonds with nature.
  • Nature Meditation and Observation Sitting quietly and mindfully in nature is a powerful way to become a part of the forest community. Practice the art of sitting in nature to expand awareness and become one with your surroundings.
  • Group Facilitation and Council Practice For most of human history, people have gathered in a circle to share their stories. This practice, called Council, is an invaluable tool for building community, as well as developing communication and facilitation skills as a Mindful Outdoor Guide.
  • Efficacy of Nature Therapy Discover the latest scientific research on the health benefits of spending time in nature and learn to share these benefits with others.
  • Animal and Plant Connection, Level 1 Animals and plants have so much to teach us about living and being on the land. Join our expert naturalists from Mass Audubon and explore some of the common flora and fauna on the Kripalu grounds, including trees, basic animal tracks, scat, and signs. You also get to share your insights about the meaningful connections you have made with the forest community.
  • Birthing Fire, Level 1 Learning how to safely and responsibly birth and tend a fire is an instrumental skill for Mindful Outdoor Guides. Here you experience the fundamentals of fire-making and explore fire as a potent tool for practicing meditation.
  • Home Project Investigate opportunities to help connect people with nature in your community. During the break between Level 1 and Level 2, you will work on a personal project to present to your class. This project focuses on research you will conduct on some aspect of your home environment and how you plan to incorporate those elements into your work as a Mindful Outdoor Guide.

This program may be taken as part of Kripalu’s 1000-Hour Yoga Teacher Training or as a standalone program.

Listen to Micah's Favorite Part of Level 1 Training



Level 1 certification is comprised of approximately 75 hours of instruction and practice in the following categories:

  • Nature Meditation/Observation
  • Council Practice/Group Facilitation
  • Forest Bathing/Mindfulness
  • Naturalist Instruction
  • Science/Evidence
  • Outdoor Skills

Reading List

Required Reading

  • Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv
  • Your Brain on Nature, Eva Selhub and Alan C. Logan
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, Robin Wall Kimmerer
    Please read ‘Learning the Grammar of Animacy,’ ‘Allegiance to Gratitude,’ ‘In the Footsteps of Nanabozho: Becoming Indigenous to Place’.
  • The M iracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature, M. Amos Clifford
  • Rewilding: Meditations, Practices, and Skills for Awakening in Nature, Micah Mortali
  • What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World, Jon Young

Suggested Reading

  • The Way of Council, Jack Zimmerman and Virginia Coyle
  • The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, Richard Louv
  • The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, Florence Williams
  • Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America, Roger Tory Peterson
  • National Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees: Eastern Region, National Audubon Society
  • Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Signs, Paul Rezendes

Gear List

Shoes and Clothing

  • Comfortable hiking shoes (waterproof recommended)
  • Mud/rain boots (optional)
  • Rain pants
  • Jacket with a waterproof shell
  • Wool or synthetic top/bottom base-layers
  • Wool or fleece top mid-layers
  • Hiking Pants


  • Day Pack (20 liters)
  • Rain hat
  • Warm hat/beanie
  • Gloves
  • Matches and/or lighter
  • Journal
  • Trail seat/sit pad (for sitting on wet ground, ex. Therm-a-Rest Z Seat)
  • Wristwatch
  • Small fixed-blade knife (Mora brand: Eldris, Companion, Spark, or Kansbolrecommended)
  • Headlamp
  • Water bottle (1 liter)
  • Mug and/or thermos
  • Outdoor chair (optional)
  • Basic first-aid kit (optional)
  • Sunscreen (optional)
  • Emergency whistle (optional)
  • Sunglasses (optional)
  • Gaiters (optional)

Note For on campus trainings, students will be sleeping and eating meals in the Main Building during the training.

Dates and Costs

Level 1: Forest Community | On Campus | May 3–12, 2024 Register Now
Level 1: Forest Community | On Campus | September 20–29, 2024 Registration Coming Soon
Level 1: Forest Community | Online | November 1–December 15, 2024 Registration Coming Soon


Daily Schedule

When you train with the Kripalu Schools you benefit from a unique immersion experience in our beautiful setting. While you’re here, you develop tools to cultivate health, create community, and encourage a quest for knowledge.

Student and Faculty Testimonials

Kripalu Staff Micah Mortali

Founding Director of the Kripalu School of Mindful Outdoor Leadership

Faculty Katie Hagel

Kripalu Faculty

Frequently Asked Questions


Is the curriculum different for the online versus the campus training?
There is no difference in the curriculum. However, there is additional one-on-one mentoring with Kripalu Faculty made available to our students taking the training online.

How will the trainings be shared?
All sessions of the training will be held by Zoom video call. Links, passwords, and more information will be shared once you are registered in the training.


Is the whole training outdoors?
Yes, barring extreme or unsafe weather conditions the entirety of this training is held outside on the land surrounding Kripalu Center. As a Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Guide in training it is important that you prepare for the training by spending regular time outdoors in a variety of weather conditions before arriving.  Proper clothing and gear is also essential.  You will receive a complete gear list when you are accepted into the training.


Why is Kripalu starting a school of mindful outdoor leadership?
The average American spends eleven hours per day on a screen and more than 90% of their lives indoors.  As human beings we spent the majority of our history as a species living very close to the Earth, the seasons, other creatures and the elements.  The dramatic transition to an indoor, sedentary lifestyle has serious health consequences and research is now showing what indigenous peoples, mystics, poets and ecologists have known for a long time, which is that mindful time in nature is profoundly good for us on all levels.  The Kripalu Schools are launching this new school to take the tools of yoga, Ayurveda, and mindfulness off of our mats and cushions and into the outdoors so that we can train mindful outdoor guides who can go back to their communities and guide people back into relationship and connection with the Earth, one breath at a time…

Do I need to be an experienced outdoor leader to take this training?
No.  You do not need to be a seasoned outdoor guide to take this training.  The Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Guide certification teaches you how to lead others in connecting mindfully with nature.  You do, however, need to be able to be outdoors for up to twelve hours each day for seven full days in a variety of weather conditions.

What is Mindful outdoor Leadership?
Mindful outdoor leaders use mindfulness, which is the practice of cultivating non-judgmental awareness in the present moment, to help those they are guiding get out of their heads and into their bodies in order to connect more deeply with nature and the outdoors.  In our modern society people are spending less and less time outdoors and more and more time on their devices.  Mindful outdoor guides help people to open their senses in nature for greater health and quality of life.

What is Nature Deficit Disorder?
In 2005, author and journalist Richard Louv added a new word to the English lexicon, Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD).  Louv defines NDD as, “The human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.”  Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder”, framed the loss of connection with nature as a public health issue and challenged the trajectory of our current course of unbridled and unquestioning integration of tech into all aspects of our lives to the exclusion of time spent in nature. 

Do I need to be a yoga or meditation teacher?
No.  In this training you will learn to lead short centerings, simple breathing and mindful movements within the context of nature immersion.   You do need at least two years of experience with a mindfulness based practice, such as yoga, meditation, mindful walking, Qi Gong etc.


Admissions to the programs are determined on a rolling basis. Given high program demand, a maximum number of students per training, and limited housing availability, we strongly recommend that applicants submit applications as soon as possible (two–four months prior to the program start). Trainings typically fill to capacity about one month in advance.

We rely on information provided in the application to make informed decisions about your capacity to fully participate in and benefit from all aspects of the program. Please answer the questions honestly and completely. The Kripalu Schools do not discriminate in admissions, administration, or educational policies with regard to race, ethnic origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, creed, or religion.

Application Process

  • Review information on program dates, costs, faculty, curricula, certification criteria, and general information about Kripalu on our website.
  • Complete the appropriate application for the program for which you are applying in its entirety, including the short-answer questions. Be sure to indicate your preferred program dates. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Kripalu reserves the right to require a phone interview or take other steps to supplement your application, if needed, in order to arrive at an informed admissions decision.
  • You will be notified of your admissions decision via email. If you do not have an email address, we will send your admissions decision by regular mail and also call you to inform you of your status.
  •  If you are accepted in the training and the course you are interested in is full, you may register for the waitlist, which will remain open until the program’s start, or you may register for any training date within one year of your acceptance.

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