The sauna is an ancient ritual that comes from Finland, a country where the culture of wellbeing has always had a central role for people and in the society as a whole. The activities that are recommended to improve one's physical and mental wellbeing often require at least one hour; consequently, only a few people manage to reconcile their daily commitments with wellbeing. On the other hand, compared to the majority of "wellness rituals", the sauna stands out because it provides numerous beneficial effects in less than 30 minutes, allowing everyone to enjoy daily life to its fullest without altering its rhythms.
Inside the sauna, the air temperature varies from 60° C to 100° C and humidity is almost absent, to allow sweat to evaporate, thus preventing it to remain on the skin. Therefore, the sauna is a warm embrace that induces sweating, fostering the expulsion of fluids and toxins from the body; it is a purifying moment, which frees our body from any unnecessary and harmful substances.
Precisely because the sauna requires a short time, our body temperature experiences a sudden change: this is why a healthy sauna session needs to be taken with some precautions to ensure true benefits to our body. Here are our tips to illustrate how to take a proper sauna maximising its benefits.
One of the most important recommendations for first-time sauna users is not being on an empty stomach. However, it is also not recommended to use the sauna after consuming a rich or heavy meal, since digestion could require a great use of energy from the body, thus becoming a stressful process for it. Vegetables, fruits, yoghurts and whole grains are perfect as a pre-sauna snack, because they energise the body without tiring it.
Proper hydration is another fundamental aspect: it is indeed important to have a good reserve of fluids in our body to increase sweating without causing dehydration. Water, unsweetened infusions and herbal teas are ideal drinks, while the consumption of too sugary beverages and alcohol is not recommended.
The skin must be clean, in order to avoid pores obstruction and therefore to facilitate the expulsion of fluids and toxins. Consequently, before entering the sauna it is advisable to wash the body with soap and water, being careful not to use cold water, to keep your feet warm and to dry the skin completely.
Once you have followed the recommendations about food, moisturizing and cleansing the skin before the sauna, you can step inside the cabin, either naked or wrapped in cotton towels without synthetic fabrics. For the warm-up phase, the recommended position is lying or sitting on the wooden bench, bringing your feet over it and then bending your legs.
During the first few minutes, it is advisable to keep the air dry, and later on, if desired, water can be poured onto the hot stones, causing an increase in humidity. Before leaving the heated cabin, it is important that the body gets used to the standing position again. For this reason, we suggest you to spend the last 2-3 minutes sitting, but with your feet on the ground, and then getting up and moving slowly, to avoid the unpleasant dizziness from low blood pressure.
The step after the heat bath, according to Finnish tradition, would consist in a plunge into icy water or a dip in snow.
Since our latitudes do not allow it, we can replace this step by taking a shower or dipping into a bathtub with cold or barely warm water. To avoid abrupt changes in blood circulation, it is important to let the water wash your feet first, to arrive gradually up to the head after pouring it on your legs, arms, and trunk.
Once the two previous steps have been completed, whenever possible, both phases should be repeated, taking a new heat bath of another 10 minutes and with a subsequent final cold shower.
Once the body has cooled down and the skin has dried, we suggest you comfortably lay on a bed for about ten minutes. This short rest allows your body to gradually get used to the new temperature, regulating blood circulation and raising blood pressure.
Furthermore, since the heating up results in a lot of sweating, those lost fluids must be replenished. Fresh fruit and vegetables juices or saline supplements are suitable compensatory beverages for the loss of electrolytes; otherwise, it is sufficient to drink a good amount of water.
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