Friday, December 08, 2006

The Sauna Experience

On the Frostbite Paddle, I experienced my first true sauna. Although I had several experiences in electric-heating saunas (one being in the basement of FMI next to the gym), this was a true wood-fired stove heated sauna on an island in the sea.

In Finland, the 'au' sound is pronounced like the 'ou' sound in 'south', so it's pronounced "sow-nah."

When pioneer Finns built their homes, they would build the sauna first and live in it (because they could heat it) until they finished the rest of the home. Families would share the sauna regularly each week, if not more often. Clothes, of course, are never worn in the sauna. (The ones at FMI are separate by gender.)

One of the rituals in the sauna is to whack your skin with a bundle of short branches from birch trees (common deciduous tree in Finland), called vihta. It sounds painful, but the leaves get tender when soaked in the water. Before the era of the washcloth, there was the vihta to clean your skin.

Stones are heated on the stove, then water is poured over them to create a hot steam in the sauna. After we were sufficiently heated, we ran naked out into the sea and jumped in. Given that you've been heating your body for 10-20 minutes, it is very refreshing. (Although you do have to get back inside the sauna to avoid getting chilled toes.) You can sit outside naked for quite a while as steam evaporates off your skin. Of course, once all the moisture is gone, you start to get cold, so back into the sauna you go. This process can last an hour or so.

Although I still prefer a hot tub, I like the sauna, too.


At 3:05 AM, Blogger Time Freedom Fighter said...

red saunaThere are five million inhabitants and over two million saunas in finland which equates to an average of one per household. Saunas help in burning sizeable amounts of calories; most people trying to loose fast usually sit in the sauna for several hours during a day.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Neil Dalby said...

After I read your blog post, I’m going to pronounce sauna as “"sow-nah". LOL! Anyhow, I’m a sauna fan. If a friend is looking for a companion, I’m willing to join him. Others might not believe it, but it’s one of the things that I really enjoy! :'D

Neil Dalby

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Lucy Eury said...

One of the best things that makes sauna fulfilling is that it cleanses our body - inside and outside. It guarantees you a soothing and relaxing effect after spending precious minutes inside the hot space, where you'll sweat toxins out.

-Lucy Eury @ iHealth Saunas


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