I sit in an unreal, ubiquitous comfort, disarmed by the natural milieu, and nursed by the heat I’ve created. The sun in the horizon saturates the scene before finally fading away. As more wood catches fire, the light lost resumes. When the water hits the sizzling stones like the tide, the heat rises back like a phoenix.

Before going to Finnish sauna:
Peaceful preparation

Finnish sauna is a room heated with the sauna stove. The stove is a sort of fireplace inside the sauna that is open from the top. It is filled with stones that are made hot by either burning wood or using electricity. The stove needs to be lit or turned on well before entering the sauna room. This allows it to have time to heat up entirely.

Preparation for the sauna often involves cutting, gathering, and lighting up wood. The patient wait before the sauna can be considered a sacred, relaxing, and crucial part of the whole sauna experience.

There are countless ways of perceiving and experiencing the act of sauna. Although sauna bathing is a routine, no two sauna experiences are identical considering how many details go into it. Sauna is a flexible tradition, and everyone has their personal preferences.

During the sauna:
Thinking inside the box

throwing water in sauna

While in the Finnish sauna, people sit on a bench, with a piece of cloth underneath them. They take water from a bucket with a ladle and throw it on the hot stones on top of the stove. This makes the water evaporate, creating a wave of heat that increases the feel of the temperature already established.

Besides sweat forming across the skin, one will notice a rapid heart rate. This makes staying hydrated especially important, with a drink either brought inside the sauna room or prepared to be enjoyed soon after leaving. It is also common to swim or grab some fresh air just outside the actual sauna but then go back into the heat. This back-and-forth motion may go on for hours, but one can also choose to spend only a moment inside the sauna.

harvia

Being nude is practical due to the heat, but some feel more comfortable wearing a towel or swimsuit. Whether the sauna is private or public, it is an environment where everyone is meant to feel safe.

Photo: Harvia

After the sauna:
Prolonged pleasure

laituri mies

After exiting the sauna for the last time, it is time to cool off, a process that only starts with a shower. The washing away of the sweat and the settling of the heartbeat make for a strong physical and psychological sense of purification. It has a long effect that feels much more wholesome than just having a quick shower or a bath, more euphoric than exercising and subtler than sleeping.

eating ice cream after sauna

Passing time after the sauna is usually all about enjoying the relaxed state that takes over the body. This often means socialization, eating, as well as adoring and absorbing nature. Encompassing all the five senses, sauna offers a multisensory symbiosis with nature, stretching over the entire experience.

Sauna offers prolonged pleasure, and it doesn’t vanish until sleep. This is only one of the ways in which sauna is a natural prescription that brings and sustains both physical and mental health. Wellbeing increases by consciously alternating and trying different forms of saunas.

More information about Finnish sauna

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