Tips for visiting a sauna
Have you ever experienced a traditional wood-heated sauna or smoke sauna? Do you dare? We encourage you to give it a try - you may like it so much that you come back for this over and over again. Here are some tips to start with.
Drink plenty of water or tea before, during, and after your sauna experience. A light meal before you go is also recommended.
Get Comfortable with Nudity
Locals usually sauna-bath in nude. However, if you feel more comfortable bathing with a towel around you, that ́s totally OK. But actually it can be quite liberating to give up on any attempt at modesty.
In the smoke sauna, however, be prepared that the walls are dark and your towel can be stained.
Watch and Learn
Simply observe and listen the sauna patrons and follow their lead. The most important thing is to relax, socialize and enjoy the moment.
Begin your sauna ritual with a wash or shower. Rinse off thoroughly with warm water. The temperature here is moderate and gentle. Sit and relax for a while if it is needed.
Sweat It Out
When you are acclimated to the temperature and well hydrated, it’s time to enter the main sauna. The atmosphere here will be extremely hot and dry thanks to a well-stocked fire.
There are usually multiple levels of wooden benches, with the heat intensifying as it rises. Sauna aficionados will recline on the top benches and wear woolen caps to trap even more heat in their body, but you should listen to yourself. It’s important to know your limits. You can always sit on a lower bench or go outside to cool down whenever you feel like it. Using your personal bench towel makes your sauna experience more comfortable.
Throwing water onto the stones of the stove
Hot steam awakens the spirit of sauna. When you get used to the initial heat of the sauna throw small amounts of hot water onto the stones of the stove. Relax, listen to the sound and enjoy the warm humid steam. Start easily and throw amounts that feel good for you.
Once your skin is warm, it’s time to exfoliate. Herbs, salt, honey, yoghurt and different mixtures, even special mud or peat – it will really deep-clean your pores. Different sauna entrepreneurs offer different options and mixtures and all of this is good for you and your skin health.
Sauna whisk massage
Now comes the most interesting part of the sauna ritual - whisking. The sauna whisks are used for gently patting yourself on the legs and upper body. Wet leaves flying through the heat help mix the layers of air in the room and act as a gentle massage increasing blood circulation in your body. Whisks can be made from a range of trees, birch, oak and maple being the most popular, but also juniper, linden and pine tree are used. The whisks are made of young twigs of the trees and different herbs are sometimes added for aroma or healing purposes. At the beginning of the summer, making your own sauna whisk is sure to be an experience as well.
Sauna can be hot, but it ́s not dangerous to your body It ́s totally normal for your skin to flush and sweat. Hurry and noise are out of the question and so is reckless competition about who stands the heat best. The temperature should be 80-90°C; one session of ten minutes at a time will be enough In between the sessions take a break, cool down, hydrate and then go for another exhilarating round When it gets too hot in the sauna, it is recommended to either move to lower levels, go outside to cool down, take a shower or go for a swim. Sauna is all about relaxation and enjoyment, listen to your body and cool down when needed.
Warming up and cooling off can be repeated as many times as feels good. The optimal time one should spend in the sauna hot room should be no longer than 30 minutes.
When you feel all heated up, get ready for the fun side of sauna - rolling in the grass during summer or in the snow during winter, going into a lake or in an ice hole during winter or just letting the steam evaporate on a quiet evening in the nature.
Remember - it’s important to give the body a cold contrast, after being in the heat and steam. Then rinse your body with water and all the sauna procedures can be repeated again.
In the end remember to enjoy the blissful post-sauna feeling of having cleaned your body, mind and soul.
And please note, whatever is your sauna experience, it is deeply personal, and not always possible to put into words.