The un(known) sauna
Sauna is an ancient Finnish word meaning their traditional bathroom. In other Scandinavian languages, it bears the meaning of a small building, house or hut. The word “sauna” today marks the Finnish steam bath, gained world renown and long left the borders of Scandinavia to sweat the people worldwide.
In essence, traditional sauna is a separate building with a small size, or a room from wood, in which there is a bench and heater covered with special stones. The temperature of the air in the sauna is from 70 to 100 degrees, and the humidity is adjusted by water, poured over the stones, with result clouds vapor. The high temperature and vaporization lead to sweating of the person, chosen to heal body and soul in the sauna, which in turn, they say results in better physical condition and Zen soul state.
The other maintype saunas besides the traditional steam one is the infrared sauna that does not warm the air but the skin and other open surfaces.
In Central America and Mexico, since ancient times, there is the so called “temazcal” or “house of heat” (the word comes from Nahuatl (Aztec). This is a special bathroom, much alike sauna, but built not of wood but of clay or stone. It was part of the home, of poor and rich both, sweat lodge, but also a kind of temple to purify the body and soul of Aztec, Mayan and Zapotec. There were performed a number of complex rituals, plus the accompanying mantras, shamans, drums and all traditional for the beliefs of these ancient peoples. Similarities, except with the sauna, temazcal has too with the Turkish hammam and Russian bath. Today temazcal also has its place in the lives of the descendants of the ancient. Apparently, all ancient and wise people were aware of the usefulness of these sweat lodges and the way they bring together the main elements earth, air, fire and water, creating favorable conditions for bringing the man close to nature and its elements and clear ones body and soul. Temazcal, like the other types of steam baths – treatments, ends also with the logical immersion in cold water in order to wash away the toxins from the skin, and with them the bad thoughts and energy.
Quite similar is the Russian bath, also with deep historical roots. It is built of round logs of pine and fir and consists of two rooms. The first one served for dressing and rest and the second was the actual thing with a stove with stacked on it stones, called “kamenka”. The principle is the same – hot water is poured over the kamenka. Here, however, one may pour not water, but herbal infusion selected according to the needs of the person using the steam bath, or gifts of nature – coffee, cinnamon, cocoa, why not beer or horseradish – to add their advantages to the treatment and turn the steam bath to aromatherapy too. Besides the benefits of the steam, the Russian bath harnesses to tight work in favor of the health and tone of the man the power of essential oils too. This is done by use of birch, juniper, linden branches. They are dried, then before use are soaked in hot water to release their oil that will be absorbed by the skin of the one using the bath. The finish again, is cold water – toxins are washed away, and the soul – relieved.
African sifutu, Roman Balnea and Thermae, Turkish hammam “radiant heat” (actually invented by the Arabs), the Japanese “Mushi Buro” … also use the miracle of steam for cleaning and well-being of the human on physical and spiritual level.
Sauna, as today is called the most common type of steam bath is a place for solitude too. Or gathers a kind of small socium sharing about life while sweating and cleaning toxins together. The sauna is a place for relaxation and recreation in a quite warm place, where nestled like “in the womb” to forget the troubles of everyday life and merge with nature and yourself. After the cold shower – end of the experience, life is brighter, vivid and lively, and the body – renewed and full of energy and strength.
In general, today the types of saunas are many. Their heat sources include lumber, electricity, gas, as well as solar energy. There are wet, dry, smoke (the oldest type – a room with stones, no chimney), steam or infrared saunas.
Give yourself this healthy pleasure favorite to the ancients today. It is proven, sauna reduces stress hormones, helps with colds, rheumatism, depression, chronic fatigue … The pleasure of sauna is available. Make sure yourself.
Source: www.banispa.com; www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauna; www.kinderhotel-almhof.at