A Beginner's Guide to Saunas: Everything You Need to Know thumbnail image

A Beginner's Guide to Saunas: Everything You Need to Know

Redwood Outdoors - Apr 29th 2024

Welcome to the world of saunas, where relaxation, rejuvenation, and wellness converge. Whether you're a seasoned sauna enthusiast or someone just dipping their toes into the world of heat therapy, this comprehensive guide is your passport to understanding the ins and outs of saunas. Join us as we explore the history, health benefits, types, and etiquette – just about, well, everything you need to know about saunas, brought to you by Redwood Outdoors, your premier destination for sauna and cold plunge experiences.

The History of Saunas:

The sauna, an enduring symbol of relaxation and rejuvenation, boasts a history as rich and diverse as the benefits it generates. Originating in Finland, this timeless tradition traces its roots back thousands of years, evolving from humble beginnings into a cornerstone of Finnish culture.

A couple holds hands during meditation in Redwood Outdoors panorama sauna.

In its nascent form, saunas emerged as dugouts within hillsides or simple log structures, serving as sanctuaries for communal gatherings and cleansing rituals. These early saunas weren't just spaces for sweating out toxins; they were hubs for social interaction, where neighbors and families came together to unwind, share stories, and forge bonds. The sauna's significance extended beyond mere relaxation; it became a cornerstone of Finnish identity, embodying the values of community, health, and well-being.

Today, Finland boasts an astonishing statistic: approximately 3 million saunas dot the landscape of a nation inhabited by just 5.5 million people. This prevalence underscores the lasting importance of the sauna in Finnish life. Whether nestled in the tranquility of a lakeside cabin or settled within the confines of a bustling city, the sauna continues to serve as a sanctuary for Finns, offering respite from the stresses of modern life and a haven for cultural traditions.

The allure of the sauna isn't confined to Finland alone. Its popularity has transcended borders, captivating people around the globe who seek its therapeutic benefits and communal spirit. From Scandinavia to Japan, from Russia to the United States, the sauna has woven itself into the tapestry of diverse cultures, adapting and evolving while preserving the essence of its ancient roots.

Health Benefits of Saunas:

Saunas, with their enveloping warmth and therapeutic steam, offer a holistic approach to health and well-being, encompassing both the physical and mental realms. The benefits they provide extend far beyond mere relaxation, touching upon various aspects of human health and vitality.

At the core of sauna therapy lies the profound effect of heat on the body. As temperatures rise within the sauna, the body responds by increasing circulation and inducing sweating. This natural process serves as a powerful detoxification mechanism, allowing the body to expel toxins through the skins' pores. The result is a deep cleansing of the body's systems, helping to rid it of impurities and promoting overall health.

Celebrity fitness and nutrition expert, Thomas Delauer, investigates the countless claims and scientific discoveries surrounding such health benefits, answering the question: does saunaing really live up to the hype?

Moreover, the relaxation induced by the sauna's heat can have profound effects on mental well-being. As the mind unwinds in the tranquil environment of the sauna, stress levels decrease, and tension melts away. This meditative state not only provides relief from the pressures of daily life but also promotes a sense of calm and inner balance.

For those seeking to enhance their physical performance, saunas offer a natural edge. The increased circulation and improved cardiovascular function resulting from sauna use can translate into enhanced athletic performance. Notably, the heat exposure can stimulate the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, providing athletes with a natural boost in endurance and recovery.

Beyond its physical and athletic benefits, the sauna holds promise for those struggling with sleep disorders or chronic pain. The deep relaxation experienced in the sauna can promote better sleep patterns, allowing individuals to achieve more restful and rejuvenating sleep. Furthermore, the heat can provide relief for conditions such as arthritis and respiratory ailments, soothing sore joints and easing breathing difficulties.

In essence, saunas offer a comprehensive approach to health and well-being, addressing both the body and the mind. From detoxification and cardiovascular support to stress reduction and pain relief, the benefits of sauna therapy are as diverse as they are profound, providing a sanctuary for healing and rejuvenation in an increasingly hectic world.

Types of Saunas & Which One’s Right For You:

Saunas come in various forms, each offering a unique experience. Traditional saunas typically use dry heat generated by pouring water over heated rocks, while infrared saunas use infrared lamps to directly heat the body without significantly warming the surrounding air. Other variations include steam saunas, which produce moist heat by boiling water, and portable saunas, which can be easily set up in homes or offices.

Despite differences, traditional saunas are often favored for their authentic ambiance and wellness benefits, with modern electric variations mitigating some drawbacks such as requiring longer sessions and more extensive maintenance; drawbacks that still plague different sauna types like the infrared sauna. Ultimately, the choice of sauna type depends on personal preferences and health goals.

When selecting a sauna, consider factors such as space availability, budget, and personal preferences. Traditional saunas provide a classic experience with dry heat and the option for adding water for steam, while infrared saunas offer a more gentle heat that some find preferable, especially for those sensitive to high temperatures.

Redwood Outdoors offers a diverse selection of saunas to suit various properties and budgets, guaranteeing there's something for everyone. Customers are encouraged to consider their preferences and needs, ensuring they select the perfect sauna for their home.

How to Take Your First Sauna Bath:

Stepping into the sauna for the first time can be daunting without proper guidance. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience, it's essential to understand the basics of sauna etiquette and best practices. From temperature settings to post-sauna rituals, we’ll walk you through the steps of taking your first sauna bath, providing valuable insights on how to maximize the benefits while staying comfortable and safe.

  • Temperature and Duration: Start with a moderate temperature, typically around 70-80°C (158-176°F) for your first sauna session. Begin with a shorter duration, such as 10-15 minutes, to acclimate to the heat.
  • Entering the Sauna: Before entering, take a quick shower to cleanse your body and remove any lotions or oils. Enter the sauna and find a comfortable seating position, either sitting or reclining on a towel.
  • During Your Session: Relax and breathe deeply, allowing the heat to penetrate your muscles and promote relaxation. Use a towel to wipe away sweat from your body as needed. Avoid engaging in loud conversations or disruptive behavior to maintain a peaceful atmosphere.
  • Exiting the Sauna: When you're ready to leave the sauna, exit gracefully and slowly to prevent dizziness. Take a cool shower or jump into a cold plunge to help regulate your body temperature and promote circulation.
  • Rest Period: After your sauna session, allow your body to rest and cool down for at least 10-15 minutes before considering another round. Use this time to hydrate and relax before deciding whether to continue with another sauna session.
  • Additional Rounds: Depending on your comfort level and preferences, you may choose to do multiple sauna rounds. Start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration and number of rounds as you become more accustomed to the heat.

By following these guidelines, you can have a safe and enjoyable first sauna experience while reaping the benefits of relaxation and stress relief.

Sauna Etiquette:

Sauna etiquette is just as important when enjoying the sauna in the comfort of your own home. Here are some essential guidelines to enhance your at-home sauna experience:

  • Founder of Redwood Outdoors, Killian Lannen, uses his Redwood Outdoors shower to rinse off before getting into the sauna.

    Pre-sauna Shower: Before entering the sauna, take a quick shower to cleanse your body and remove any lotions or oils. This ensures a clean and hygienic sauna session.

  • Towel Usage: Place a towel on the sauna bench to sit or lie on. This helps to absorb sweat and keeps the benches clean for future use.
  • Respect Others: If sauna-ing with others at home, respect their privacy and personal space. Before your session, discuss expectations and comfortability with temperature and steam. Maintain a comfortable distance and avoid loud conversations to ensure a relaxing environment for everyone.
  • Know the Cultural Norms: In some cultures, nudity is common and expected in saunas, while in others, it may be less common or even prohibited. Familiarize yourself with the cultural norms and expectations regarding nudity in saunas, both in public facilities and at home. If you're unsure about the nudity norms in a particular sauna setting, it's generally acceptable to wear a towel or swimsuit to cover yourself. This can help you feel more comfortable while still respecting the sauna environment.
  • Refrain from Conversations: Saunas are meant to be peaceful and relaxing environments. Avoid loud conversations or disruptive behavior that may disturb others' experience.
  • Exit Gracefully: When you're ready to leave the sauna, do so quietly and quickly as leaving the door open or constantly coming and going can reduce the heat of the sauna. Use caution when standing up to prevent dizziness or lightheadedness.

Adhere to these simple etiquette guidelines, and you can fully enjoy the benefits of your at-home sauna while promoting a comfortable and respectful atmosphere for yourself and others.

Enhancing Your Sauna Experience:

Make the most of your sauna experience by incorporating additional elements to enhance relaxation and wellness.

  • Professional baseball player, Kike Hernandez, enjoys cooling down after his sauna session in the Redwood Outdoors cold plungeAromatherapy: Adding essential oils like eucalyptus or lavender to your sauna can transform the atmosphere,
    creating a soothing and therapeutic environment. Eucalyptus oil is known for its invigorating scent that can clear the sinuses and promote easier breathing, making it perfect for respiratory congestion relief. Lavender oil, on the other hand, offers a calming aroma that helps reduce stress and anxiety, enhancing relaxation during your sauna session.
  • Soothing Music: Playing calming music while in the sauna can further elevate your relaxation experience. Choose gentle, instrumental tracks or nature sounds like flowing water or bird songs to create a serene ambiance. The rhythmic sounds can help quiet the mind, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the moment and unwind from the stresses of daily life.
  • Meditation: Practicing mindfulness meditation in the sauna can deepen your relaxation and rejuvenation. Focus on your breath, the sensation of warmth enveloping your body, and the present moment. Allow any tension or stress to melt away as you cultivate a sense of inner peace and tranquility. Mindfulness meditation can also enhance your mental clarity and emotional well-being, leaving you feeling refreshed and centered.
  • Cool-Down: After your sauna session, it's essential to cool down gradually to allow your body to adjust to the temperature changes. Consider taking a cold plunge or a refreshing shower to invigorate the body and promote circulation. The contrast between the heat of the sauna and the coolness of the water can stimulate blood flow, reduce inflammation, and boost your overall sense of vitality.

By incorporating these additional elements into your sauna routine, you can create a holistic wellness experience that nourishes both your body and mind. Whether you're seeking relaxation, stress relief, or rejuvenation, these practices can help you make the most of your sauna sessions and enhance your overall well-being.

Safety Precautions:

Ensuring a safe and enjoyable sauna experience involves more than just basking in the heat; it requires a mindful approach to health and well-being. Here are some important safety precautions to consider:

  • Alcohol Avoidance: While a refreshing beverage might seem appealing, it's crucial to abstain from consuming alcohol before or during your sauna session. Alcohol can lead to dehydration, intensify the sauna's effects, and increase the risk of dizziness or fainting. Opt instead for water or other hydrating beverages to maintain your body's fluid balance.
  • Medical Consultation: Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or other cardiovascular issues, should seek guidance from their healthcare provider before stepping into the sauna. Sauna use can affect heart rate and blood pressure, so it's essential to ensure that it's safe for your specific health profile.
  • Special Populations: Pregnant women, young children, and elderly individuals should approach sauna use with caution and consult with a healthcare professional beforehand. Pregnancy alters the body's physiology, and exposing oneself to high temperatures may pose risks to both the mother and the developing fetus. Similarly, young children and the elderly may have difficulty regulating body temperature, making them more susceptible to heat-related complications.
  • Hydration: We’ve stressed it before, and we’ll stress it again: maintaining adequate hydration is paramount when using a sauna. Sweating profusely can quickly deplete the body's fluids, leading to dehydration. Before entering the sauna, ensure that you are well-hydrated and continue to drink water throughout your session. Avoid caffeinated beverages, as they can exacerbate dehydration.
  • Time Management: Keep your sauna sessions within a reasonable duration, typically around 10-15 minutes, to prevent overheating and discomfort. Listen to your body's cues and exit the sauna if you start to feel lightheaded, dizzy, or excessively fatigued. Allow yourself ample time to cool down afterward to avoid any adverse effects.

By adhering to these safety precautions, you can enjoy the myriad benefits of sauna therapy while minimizing the risks and ensuring a safe and rewarding experience for yourself and others. Remember, your health and well-being always come first.

Learn More About Our Saunas

Congratulations, you've completed your crash course in sauna basics! Armed with this knowledge, you're ready to embark on your journey to sauna bliss with confidence. Whether you're seeking relaxation, rejuvenation, or improved health, saunas offer a time-honored tradition of wellness that continues to captivate people around the world. So go ahead, step into the warmth, and let the healing power of saunas embrace you. Experience the ultimate relaxation and wellness with Redwood Outdoors, your trusted partner in sauna and cold plunge experiences.