A sauna is historically how Finnish people bathed. It consists of a small room or hut, which is heated to approximately 80°C (175 °F). Sitting in this heated room causes the sauna user / bather to sweat out impurities and cleanses them, while also relaxing the body and the mind. For many people partaking in a sauna bath is as much a mental cleansing as a physical one. This time allows for contemplation and relaxation.
A few things to consider before you enjoy a sauna session:
- You should not use a sauna if you have a heart disease, diabetes, high or low blood pressure, circulatory or respiratory problems, seizures, epilepsy. Also pregnant women, those who are using prescribed or illegal drugs or are under the influence of alcohol should refrain from sauna
- Children age 5 and under are not permitted in the sauna. Children between the ages of 6 and 14 must be accompanied by an adult in the sauna at all times
- Limit yourself to 15 minutes in the sauna
- Allow yourself at least 5 minutes after exercising to cool down before entering the sauna
- Hygiene is essential: always shower before entering the sauna, always use a towel when sitting in the sauna
- Strenuous exercise is prohibited in the sauna
How to sauna
A sauna bath starts with a cleansing shower. Following that you enter the sauna until your body tells you that you have spent enough time in the high heat. Then you re-enter the shower to cool off and rest for a while (depending on your well being). Return to the sauna for another session. This is usually done 2 or 3 times, but length of time as well as number of sessions will depend on the individual.
The sauna was invented in Finland, although it has close ties with the Russian 'banya', the Native American 'sweat lodge', the Turkish 'hamam', and the Japanese 'onsen'. Since its creation it has been a dominant part of the Finnish culture. There are currently more than 2 million saunas (public and private) in Finland, at a population of only 5.2 million.