How a Finnish Sauna Can Benefit Your Body and Mind
The Finnish sauna has been an important aspect of Finnish culture for centuries. Finns have been using saunas for over 10,000 years, dating back to the Stone Age, when they were dug into the ground. Since then, the Finnish sauna has evolved significantly, and it is now common to enjoy saunas in public places such as swimming pools, sports halls, and independent establishments. Fun fact: there are more saunas in Finland than cars!
A Finnish sauna is a place for relaxation, socializing, and cleansing. It is typically a wooden room heated by a stove filled with rocks. Water is poured over the stones to create steam, increasing the room's temperature and humidity. Remember that the door stays closed when someone pours water into the sauna heater. Saunas are traditionally enjoyed in the nude, although you can use a towel or sometimes a bathing suit. When men and women go to the sauna together, they usually have separate turns, but it is also typical that women and men share the sauna experience together. In Finland, it is considered polite not to stare at other people's bodies, as they value body positivity and comfort.
Benefits and rituals
For centuries, saunas have played a crucial role in Finnish culture, with many believing in their therapeutic benefits. They were traditionally used for various purposes, from aiding childbirth and treating wounds to washing the deceased before burial. Scientific research has found that regular sauna sessions can positively affect cardiovascular health, reduce stress, and enhance athletic performance.
Saunas and aromas
When cooking sausages on a sauna heater, it's essential to prioritize safety measures. Some Finns like to add beer to the sauna for a more masculine scent, while others prefer oils like eucalyptus, salmiakki, or birch tree perfumes mixed with sauna water for a more pleasant aroma. Just make sure to incorporate these oils with caution and care.
Are you familiar with using birch twigs in saunas? These twigs, vihta or vasta, are used for a soothing body massage. Despite the initial discomfort of witnessing people whipping themselves, this practice provides several health benefits. Additionally, it can alleviate muscle and joint pain. Birch branches have saponin and essential oil that can cleanse the skin by eliminating dirt, grease, and dead skin cells.
Different ways of heating a sauna
Saunas are a significant part of Finnish culture, with many people using them regularly. Typically, Finns use the saunas once a week, with temperatures averaging around 100 degrees Celsius. Electric saunas are mainly used, which take approximately 30 minutes to an hour to heat up.
On the other hand, wooden saunas are prevalent in cottages and take around an hour to heat. Heating a wooden sauna involves several tasks that require some practice to perfect. These tasks include fetching water from the well and lighting the sauna heater with wood. Once you get the hang of it, this can be a very calming and enjoyable experience.
However, the smoke sauna, also known as "savusauna," takes almost a day to heat up. If a Finnish individual extends an invitation for you to partake in a savusauna, it would be considered courteous to accept and participate in the experience graciously.
The Finnish people possess an exceptional tradition of exuding natural amiability, which gives us comfort within our skin. Relish in the festivities of Juhannus and immerse yourself in the diverse array of saunas available.