Planning to go in for a Finnish sauna? Read the following article before you do that as it covers everything, right from history to etiquette to be followed while in a Finnish sauna to what makes them unique.
You would be surprised to know that almost every house in Finland has its own sauna! Saunas are a part of Finland’s culture and are included in many of its festivities and celebrations. Nowadays, however, owing to the benefits of Finnish sauna, it has become popular all over the world. You will find many spas offering Finnish sauna in various countries. A typical Finnish sauna involves heating the room to around 70 to 100 degree Celsius, so that the humidity is increased manifold. This heated temperature has numerous advantages for the mind and the body and that’s precisely the reason why Finnish sauna is being enjoyed by people all over the world today.
The Finnish Sauna
If you look at the statistics, in the year 2002, there were around two million saunas in Finland, while the country’s population was estimated to be around five million! This shows how popular and common saunas are with the locals as well as the tourists.
History and Significance
A Finnish sauna is conducted in an insulated room, which has a number of stones and rocks in it. These rocks are then heated with wood, gas, oil or electricity, to raise the temperature of the room. People sit nude in this room and bathe in the hot air. This improves the circulation in their body and relaxes them as well. If you look at their history, Finnish saunas were originally a smoke sauna.
In earlier times, fire was lit under the stones and this produced smoke. There used to be a hole in the wall of the room, through which the smoke escaped. When the room reached the desired temperature, the hole was shut. By this time, the room used to be full of fresh air and thus, ready for a sauna. Such a sauna is believed to be the most bacteria and germ free of all the types of saunas.
In Finland, saunas have a special spiritual significance. They are compared to the womb of a mother, from where a person comes out reborn. That’s why, there are some rules which are followed by everyone entering a Finnish sauna. For instance, shouting and swearing are not allowed in Finnish saunas. In earlier days, a person had to even bow to enter the sauna, signifying the fact that taking sauna bath was considered to be a spiritual experience. Shedding of clothes and reducing oneself to the bare minimum, while taking saunas, in a way meant shedding of one’s outer mask, to reveal one’s real identity.
Just like any other sauna, Finnish sauna is very relaxing for the body as well as the mind. Secondly, it is very good for the health of the skin. It washes all the toxins, impurities and wastes, thus revealing a fresher, newer skin beneath. Finnish sauna has many benefits for the heart. It lowers the blood pressure and enhances the heart health. Lastly, people who are trying to lose weight, will find Finnish sauna very advantageous. Due to the high temperatures in the Finnish sauna, it helps a person in losing fat from all over his body.
Finnish sauna sessions today last for about an hour and a half. In a Finnish sauna, everyone who enters, is naked. Before entering, one has to take a shower to maintain the hygiene factor. In some saunas, men and women may sit together, while in others, the men and women may sit separately. A person sits on a small towel and enjoys the hot air of the sauna. When he feels that the air is too hot to bear, he goes outside to take a shower and after a couple of minutes, enters the sauna room again. Taking breaks in between sauna ensures that a person enjoys the session and does not feel overtly hot.
In the end, cold water shower is taken again to close the pores. However, as Finnish sauna can lower the blood pressure, so people who already suffer from low blood pressure should preferably avoid it. Those who have heart problems and women who are pregnant should not use a Finnish sauna, as it can create some health risks for such people.
The sauna culture has survived in Finland as Finns enjoy being in the midst of nature and in the outdoors. For them, saunas are all about health and a way of life. They do not consider anything erotic about being naked in a sauna. Thus, anyone can enjoy Finnish saunas and feel comfortable while taking them, provided they understand the whole concept and significance behind them!