Most people have an idea of what a sauna is. Maybe you’ve used one after working out or indulged while you’re on vacation. Perhaps you even have a home sauna.
Saunas can help relieve aches and pains, and ease tired muscles. Those who’ve used a sauna in the past have an idea of what to expect, but what about if you’re totally new to it?
There can be a lot to learn at first, from health considerations to etiquette. Let’s take a look at a few common sauna types before we explore what you need to know if you’re new to saunas.
One thing all saunas have in common is that they are small rooms heated to between 150°F and 195°F (65°C to 90°C). There are four main types of ways saunas are heated.
This is the most traditional method. Humans have been using wood for heat since long before saunas enter the historical record a couple thousand years ago.
It’s generally believed that saunas were invented in northern Europe, with Finland being popularly credited with the invention.
Wood produces a dry heat. To create steam, a ladle of water is drizzled over hot rocks every 10 minutes or so.
This method has its roots in Turkish saunas. These modern descendants of ancient Roman bath houses use boiling water to drive up the heat and humidity.
Due to its Turkish roots, they’re often referred to as Turkish bathhouses or steam rooms.
This delivers a comparable effect to wood, delivering a dry heat generated by electric heaters. Steam is generated the same way, using a ladle to drizzle water over the hot rocks periodically.
While not considered a traditional sauna type, infrared lamps provide targeted heat to your body rather than the entire room. They provide a slightly lower temperature in general, hovering around 140°F.
Home saunas are available in electric, wood burning, and infrared.
There are a lot of unwritten rules about sauna etiquette that can feel ovewhelming. While this can be offputting for a newcomer, there’s no reason for concern.
Just follow a few simple tips to make your experience great… without costing someone else their great experience, too.
Public Sauna Etiquette
A public sauna, such as at your gym, will often have posted rules. Check with a gym employee if in doubt.
You don’t want to commit a faux pas by carelessly wandering into a gender-specific or clothing-optional sauna! If clothing is allowed, make sure it’s comfortable and breathable.
Swimwear is an acceptable alternative.
Private Sauna Etiquette
At a private sauna, such as at a friend’s house, check with the host. Take a look at who’s coming and going, and how they’re dressed. Friends will have different comfort levels than the strangers at a gym.
You don’t want to cause a scene in what’s supposed to be a relaxed environment between friends. If you have a home sauna, etiquette is whatever you decide it is!
Sauna types and etiquette aside, there are a few more things to keep in mind to make your sauna experience the best it can be.
1.Aside from newborn babies and those with wounds or heart problems, a nice, hot sauna is safe and healthy for all users.
2.Be sure to stay hydrated. You’ll be sweating buckets while using a sauna, so plan ahead. Water is the most recommended, though if you have a home sauna you have more options available. Hydrate before, during, and after.
3.A full stomach may be less than pleasant in a sauna. Your body is going to be working harder than you may think with all that heat and humidity.
4.Don’t be afraid to experiment to find out where the best temperature is for you. The higher up you go, the hotter it will get. If there are higher and lower seating options, try them out. Don’t push yourself to get warmer than you feel comfortable getting.
5.If you have a home sauna, you can take your sauna experience to the next level with aromatherapy. Add just a few drops of an essential oil and you suddenly have a steam treatment!
6.If you need a break, take one! It’s okay to take a cool rinse and get back in the sauna for more.
7.After your sauna time is done, your pores will be open. Why not try an exfoliation treatment, followed by moisturizer or whatever skin care routine you enjoy the most.
Don’t Sweat It
If you’re totally new to saunas, there’s no reason to be intimidated. People have been enjoying the benefits of saunas for thousands of years, and you can, too.
Just keep some friendly, considerate tips in mind, and stay in tune with your body. This is when it’s a good time to break a sweat!