Posted on April 26, 2011
Sauna, which means bathhouse in Finnish, is an invigorating bath that uses dry heat to induce perspiration, and in which steam is produced by pouring water on heated stones. Just like nowadays, the purpose of the saunas was for cleansing and relaxing habitation; the bather is subjected to hot steam, usually followed by a cold plunge or by being lightly beaten with birch twigs.
Scientists have proven that sweating is an effective way to flush out toxins and diseases and helps to maintain optimal physical and mental health. Another benefit of the saunas is that they enhance circulation, and oxygenate the cells, tissues and organs.
It is interesting to note that for the Finns the sauna was a popular place to give birth. It is believed that the saunas were invented during the Byzantine or Scythian empires, carried by the Slavs when they migrated to the lands of the ancestral Finns as far back as two thousand years ago; various cultures around the world have close equivalents to saunas: the North American Indians call saunas inipi (not to be confused with sweat lodges), the Romans called it thermae, the Japanese onsen, the Russians banya, and the Turks Hamam.
It is worth noting that the first saunas used by the nomad people who later established themselves in Finland, were heated holes in the ground, covered with a tarp to have a warm place for bathing. A suitable sauna temperature is between 60C and 100 C (an equivalent of 140F to 212F) which induces relaxation and promotes sweating.
There are two types of saunas: the conventional that warm the air and heat the body indirectly via air or steam, and the infrared that’s designed to be absorbed directly into the body to increase circulation and nourish damaged tissue. Similarly to conventional saunas, the infrared are meant to increase circulation, enhance detoxification, and strengthen our cardiovascular system.
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