If you think about the benefits of taking a sauna, how you will feel after a good sauna bathing session, then your list will probably include:
• A sense of relaxation and calm.
• A feeling of health and wellbeing.
• The knowledge that you have purged your body of toxins and freshened and cleansed your skin.
• The feeling that you will get a good night’s sleep.
• The sensation that you have done your mind and body some good.
The sauna has been making people feel this way for hundreds of years if not longer and of course, over that time, people have discovered how to get the best out of their sauna bathing sessions.
Little rituals for a reason.
To get the most out of your sauna, there are things that you should do beforehand, during and after. That, of course, includes paying attention to the amount of time you spend in the sauna.
First of all, you should wait for an hour or two after you have had a meal. The sauna’s heat will draw blood to your skin to make you flush and sweat. In doing that, it draws blood from your internal organs so it’s a good idea if your stomach isn’t trying to digest a meal at the same time.
It is a good idea to drink a glass or two of water before going in to the sauna though. You are going to be sweating in there so drinking water will make sure that you don’t get dehydrated and will help your body flush out those toxins.
‘Just as nature intended’ is the best way to take a sauna; that means no jewellery and no clothes. Jewellery has the potential to get hot and burn; even a bathing costume can feel uncomfortable in a sauna. If you want to or need to protect your modesty, then a towel is a better option.
How long should your sauna session be?
So now you are in the sauna, sitting on your towel.
If you are new to the sauna experience then sit on the lower bench – which will be a little cooler.
Your first session should probably be no longer than 10 minutes. Taking a sauna is not a competitive sport and there is nothing to be gained by trying to stay in longer than you feel is comfortable.
After 10 minutes, get out, take a cool shower and then go back in for another session of perhaps the same amount of time.
After your second session, take a warm shower and a glass of cool water, then take it easy for a little while.
As you get more used to the sauna you may want to extend your sessions to 15 minutes. This seems like a sensible amount of time and its no accident that most sauna sand timers are marked in 5-minute intervals up to 15.
Again, you should take a cold shower between each section of your sauna session. Most regular sauna bathers will end up with a sauna session that runs to a maximum of 30 to 45 minutes.
You should always listen to your body though, your tolerances for the heat of the sauna can change dependant on how you feel on the day and if you have a sensation of light-headedness or feel faint, then take a break.
Some other sensible advice for sauna safety.
The times that we talk about above are for people who are generally fit and healthy.
There are people who shouldn’t use the sauna or who should take medical advice before doing so.
Pregnant women shouldn’t bathe in a sauna and neither should young children.
If you are on prescription drugs, particularly for circulatory problems or diabetes, then you should definitely avoid the sauna until you have consulted with your doctor.
Saunas aren’t a hangover cure and should never be used as one. Saunas and alcohol don’t mix well at all.