A sauna is one of the most enjoyable ways to enhance well-being. For thousands of years, people worldwide have benefitted from this tried-and-tested treatment. If you have just begun to recognize the benefits of a traditional sauna but don't know where to start, don't fret. While it entails a list of do's and don'ts, a sauna session is hardly daunting. Over time, you'll ease into the process and learn to make adjustments as you go.
Let's go over how to use a sauna so that you can make the most of your first session.
A Quick Introduction to Traditional Saunas
Before we delve into the specifics of a sauna routine, let's understand what a traditional sauna is.
The classic sauna has existed for thousands of years after originating in Northern Europe.
While it has evolved to meet modern needs, its core remains unchanged. A traditional sauna is a wooden cabin that produces heat with an electric or wood-burning stove.
A wood-burning stove uses natural wood such as cedar, pine, or spruce for burning. Additionally, a pile of stones atop the sauna stove helps to generate and maintain the heat throughout the room. This differs from an electric sauna heater, which uses a thermostat to control the temperature.
In a traditional setup, sauna temperatures can reach 175°F. You can modify the temperature of the sauna heater to suit your preferences.
Traditional saunas provide many health benefits that encourage people to use them. Some of these include:
Better cardiovascular health
Lower stress levels
Relief from muscle/joint pain
Improved skin health
Improved mental well-being
Why Do I Need a Sauna Guide?
A sauna has health benefits, but its positive effects will manifest only if you follow proper guidelines. There are many factors to consider before jumping into a sauna session, such as:
Each of these factors determines the effect of a sauna session on your well-being. For instance, entering a sauna without hydrating yourself is a big no-no, so is sitting in a sauna for an extended time without intervals. Ignoring these key aspects and going in unprepared can be detrimental.
Some ill effects you may experience with incorrect sauna use include:
Blood pressure fluctuations
Light-headedness or dizziness
A Detailed Guide on How to Properly Use a Sauna
These simple sauna instructions can go a long way in helping you optimize your sauna session:
Saunas are designed to make you sweat. A sauna session might cause your body to shed up to a pint of fluid. This calls for a mandatory hydration session before your sauna. Drinking water aids in fluid recovery and encourages your pores to open up. This leads you to sweat, which is what a sauna session is supposed to do. With that in mind, drink at least two glasses of water to replenish the amount you lose during your sweat session.
You can drink something other than water, such as light tea or fresh juice. Additionally, you should avoid drinking sugary drinks or diuretics, which will make you more prone to dehydration.
Take a Quick Shower
Rinsing your body with clean water is a must before entering a sauna. It doesn't have to be a full-fledged shower; a quick cleanse will do. You can also rinse your skin clean with a mild loofah or exfoliator.
Rinsing off helps moisten the skin and removes lingering scents and oils. Since these scents become more potent in a humid sauna, it is necessary to rinse yourself for a pleasant communal experience.
Rinsing also removes any remaining dirt from your body. It cleans and exposes your pores, allowing you to sweat properly.
Undress and Climb In
Beginners may be curious about what to wear in a sauna. Traditionally, sauna goers wear minimal clothing (most prefer to wear nothing at all) to effectively reap its benefits. If you're comfortable, you can enter a sauna in the nude, or you can don comfortable swimwear.
Sauna sessions do not permit wearing jewelry, as the high heat can react adversely with metals. There are also strict rules about bringing a phone into a sauna.
You should also bring a towel to lie on instead of sitting straight on the wood for sanitary reasons.
Have a Short First Session
One of the most important sauna tips for beginners is to keep your first sauna session short. For first-timers, the heat may feel too harsh. Limit yourself to 10-12 minutes during your first sauna session. If you feel unwell, exit the sauna and cool off before entering again.
As a beginner, avoid extreme activity, such as cold showers, during the cool-down period. To rinse, take a brief, mild shower. You can also drink something refreshing like juice, coconut water, or plain water.
With regular sauna use, you can gradually increase the amount of time you spend in the sauna. Remember, the maximum time you spend in a sauna in one go shouldn't exceed 30 minutes.
Relax and Repeat
A sauna experience includes several rinse-and-repeat motions. After your initial cool-off period, you can return to the sauna for a second session. Two sauna sessions are an excellent starting point for beginners.
If you feel up to it, you can warm your sauna during your second session by ladling water onto the heated sauna rocks. You can also incorporate vihta or birch twigs into your second session. Tap your skin gently with these twigs. This gentle whipping technique is a traditional Finnish treatment that promotes muscular relaxation and supple skin.
What Do I Do after a Sauna Session?
You've just had an invigorating sauna session. What happens next? How can you maintain this renewed state while still working to restore your body's normalcy?
Follow these after-sauna tips:
First off, Replenish with Water
The post-sauna period is the ideal time to rehydrate with water or a drink loaded with electrolytes.
Your body temperature rises significantly during a sauna session. It is critical to restore this temperature to normal after a sauna session. While sauna tradition dictates you cool yourself by leaping into a cold lake or rolling in the snow, this is not always feasible.
Salty snacks like cheese or pretzels are ideal for replenishing the sodium lost during a sauna session. You can also fill up on vitamin-rich fruits such as Granny Smith apples.
Wear Breathable Clothing
Wearing tight and uncomfortable clothing after a sauna will make you perspire much more. Swap these for loose, organic clothing to allow your skin to breathe.
Don't forget to unwind! After a sauna treatment, do something relaxing, such as reading or taking a long nap.
Any Other Tips on How to Use a Sauna?
If you're new to saunas, consider sitting on the lower benches, where the heat is less intense.
General sauna etiquette mandates you enter and exit the sauna as quickly as possible to keep the heat confined.
While stretching or lying down in a sauna is acceptable, assessing the room for space constraints is best.
Once you're accustomed to sauna temperatures, you can alter or adjust them during your regular sessions. If, for some reason, you're not hot enough, you can make the sauna hotter by ladling water onto the sauna rocks. This creates steam and increases humidity in the sauna. Ensure you check in with your sauna peers before you do this in a communal sauna.
Do not use a sauna if you're ill or suffer from medical conditions like low blood pressure or heart issues. Always check in with a medical professional to assess and understand associated risks before using a sauna.
FAQs on How to Use a Sauna
Here are some commonly asked questions about sauna use:
When Should I Use the Sauna?
You can use a sauna at any given time, but you can maximize the benefits of a sauna by pairing it with your workouts. Many believe the best time to sauna is after a rigorous workout session.
Learning how to use a sauna is like learning to ride a bicycle, only much easier! It may take at least two to three sessions for you to acclimate to the subtleties of a sauna session. We recommend at least two to three weekly sauna sessions to experience the best effects.
If you're considering investing in a private sauna for your home, check out My Sauna World's high-quality collection of traditional saunas that provide incredible value for money. Feel free to contact us for further details as our friendly staff is ready to assist you with your inquiries and guide you in selecting the ideal model that best suits your requirements.
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