SAUNA: AN ANCIENT HEALTH PRACTICE WITH POWERFUL CONTEMPORARY BENEFITS
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The time-tested benefits of sauna have been known for millennia. In fact, cultures on every continent unanimously recognize the healing quality of heat. Whether they call it a spa, sauna, sweat lodge or bathhouse, global communities dating back to the Byzantine and Scythian empires have made saunas part of their hygienic routine, sacred practices and medicinal backbone.
And for very good reason.
Sauna is far more than sitting and sweating. Steam-opening the pores and purifying the skin no doubt makes you feel better, profoundly relaxed, and more capable of overcoming fear, stress, environment and disease. Yet it goes even beyond that. Studies done in Europe over the decades show that people who sauna regularly have lower risks for stroke and heart disease.
The process of sauna-ing also inspires one’s creativity and divine connection to oneself and a higher power. In our modern high-tech era, taking time to unplug and tap your inner wisdom, just as our ancestors have done for thousands of years, is more important than ever.
Thermae Retreat’s founder Kelly Doyle understood the healing magic of sauna from the moment she first experienced it while spending a month at a retreat in Holland. Totally transformed by the experience — not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually — she was inspired to bring it to the U.S. and create an entirely new business concept around it.
Finnish vs. Far Infrared
Today’s far infrared sauna is the most contemporary and effective expression of this ancient health practice. The difference between Finnish and far infrared is basically how the sauna heats the body.
A traditional Finnish sauna is dry and uses steam (wet heat) during an “‘aufguss”, or infusion of oils onto the stones to warm the air. The hot grey stones help heat the sauna to temperatures ranging from 169 to over 200°F. Infrared saunas, conversely, use a softer heat. Unlike Finnish sauna, which heats you from the outside in by heating the surrounding air, infrared directly heats the body through the use of infrared heaters, which send out waves in a specific energy range called the “far infrared wave range.” This makes the sauna experience more comfortable since the body is heated on the inside rather than heating the sauna itself.
This “heating from the inside out” is proven to have powerful therapeutic benefits. Among them: pulling toxins/metals out of the body, lowering blood pressure and strengthening vascular function, eradicating oxidative stress and inflammation, boosting the body’s immune response, cleansing the skin and providing pain relief. Coupled with a cold plunge or rinse (which we have at every Thermae Retreat), it aids in muscle recovery, relief from soreness on the body, and healthy blood flow. Sauna can also stimulate the production of feel-good hormones such as endorphins, which reduce stress and improve mood.
We want you to understand exactly how all of this is achieved, so here is more research on the major positive effects of far infrared sauna:
Infrared speeds up the metabolism and, as such, can aid in weight loss. Basal metabolic rate (BMR), the rate that the body burns calories when at rest, is enormously affected by body temperature. Body temperature can easily rise in a 30-minute infrared session, which increases calories burned (approximately 300-500 calories per session) without exercise. Repeated sessions can lead to weight loss and the removal of toxins during times of weight loss is of tremendous importance.
Toxins are poisonous substances that when exposed to our bodies can cause injury by weakening our systems and organs. This can lead to disease and block our bodies from absorbing nutrients and cause imbalances on many levels. These harmful materials are all around us and are increasingly becoming more common in the environment of our modern lifestyles.
Safe removal of these substances from our bodies improves total wellness. Infrared provides an effective way to detoxify. Some of the most common environmental toxins are the heavy metals arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. These elements are excreted by sweat glands; therefore, sweating is an important pathway to removing them from the body. Regular sauna users can expect, on average, 25% of their sweat to carry away toxins in an infrared sauna.
The use of heat for pain relief has a very long history. It is commonly used to treat muscle pain in sports medicine, as well as in physical therapy. Infrared is especially useful for non-localized pain, such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, or chronic fatigue syndrome. It helps blood to flow more freely into tense and injured muscles and joints, thereby quickening the healing process and calming inflammation throughout the body caused by injury or disease.
Applying heat to tissue increases blood flow to that tissue by dilation of the blood vessels. Repeated sauna sessions can improve the hemodynamics and clinical symptoms in patients with chronic heart failure. Essentially, it makes the blood vessels function better. The benefits of cardiovascular movement are equal to a jog outside.
Want to know even more? Feel free to ask your retreat guide when you visit Thermae Retreat. We’re passionate about sharing the benefits of sauna. It’s time to bring these long-term benefits into your life regime.
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