A Simple, Sample Sauna Session
Part of the joy of taking a sauna is its simplicity and lack of rules -- just get in the sauna and enjoy yourself. That said, there are a few accepted procedures that are wise to follow, especially in a public sauna. Observing some basic guidelines will show respect for your fellow bathers and assure you of a good sauna experience.
If you are using a public sauna, you must abide by their regulations. Some require bathing suits, while others prohibit them. If bathing suits are not allowed and you don't feel comfortable being nude, you can wrap a towel around yourself. In either case, you should bring a towel into the sauna to sit on.
Always take a shower before entering the sauna, but do not use soap or shampoo. The perfumes in soap and shampoo will fill the air in the sauna and be unpleasant for other bathers.
Some Like It Hot
In a public sauna you can't control the temperature, but if you are using a private sauna and are new to the experience, you should begin with a lower heat. Some sauna aficionados will heat the sauna up to 210 degrees Fahrenheit, but for your first few sessions you should set the temperature between 160 and 175. That's still plenty hot!
On entering the sauna you can sit on the upper or lower benches. The upper benches are hotter, so move to the lower benches if you find it too hot. After 5 or 10 minutes pour some water on the rocks to create a cloud of steam. This raises the temperature and humidity, which will cause you to sweat even more.
Don't stay too long, especially when you are starting out. 10 or 15 minutes is plenty -- you can always go back for more. After each session take a cold shower or quick swim and relax for a while before going back in.
Relaxation Is Key
Relaxation is central to taking a sauna. The sauna can clear your mind, refresh your body, and leave you feeling rejuvenated. Keeping this in mind, avoid talking about business or controversial subjects in the sauna. It's a place to get away from the stresses of the world, and any conversation should be light and friendly.
In Finland it is traditional to use leafy branches from birch trees to gently beat the skin. This produces a tingling sensation and is quite invigorating. Your local health club isn't likely to have a supply of birch branches, but if you can take a sauna in the countryside, you might be able to experience this old tradition.
A Roll In The Snow, Anyone?
Another Finnish tradition is rolling in the snow after a sauna. "Those crazy Finns!" you may be thinking, but this can be very revitalizing after a sauna session. Whether you take a shower, a swim, or a roll in the snow, the effect is quickly cooling off to feel refreshed and relaxed.
The cycle of heating in the sauna and cooling off can be repeated as many times as you like. Most sauna experiences last about 30 minutes to 1 hour, including 2 or 3 cycles of heating up and cooling off. But if you have the time, you can continue for hours.
Do It, But Don?t Overdo It
Saunas are a time-proven method of bathing, and are quite safe for just about everybody. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, leave the sauna right away. Taking a sauna should not be a contest to see who can take the most heat. There can be dangers if you overdo it.
About the Author: Ron King is a full-time researcher, writer, and web developer. Visit http://www.sauna4u.com to learn more about this fascinating subject. Copyright 2005 Ron King.