“ah” of sauna
Branch out. Add an
element of massage and
aromatherapy to your
sauna by using a whisk,
a bundle of leafy birch
branches you tap against
The sauna elf.
Legend says saunas are
protected by elves who
ensure that bathers follow
proper sauna etiquette.
Elves can be grumpy,
so make sure you keep
the sauna elf happy by
following sauna rules.
How sweet it is.
Some people apply
honey while in a sauna,
which is said to help
cleanse and moisturize
Take it all off.
Clothing may release dirt
or chemicals into the
sauna as well as trap
sweat and block pores,
so going nude is the best
way to take a sauna. But
wrapping up in a towel is
a perfect option for those
uncomfortable in their
OK, you can
wear a hat. Many
say wearing a hat in a
sauna allows you to tolerate high heat better and
also protects your hair
from heat damage.
sense. You can
use essential oils like
eucalyptus and lavender
in the sauna. Add a
few drops to the water
ladled on the hot rocks—
and breathe deeply.
Cool down. In
Finland, taking a sauna
can be a two-hour experience. Sauna bathers
break periodically for
hydration, snacks and
a breathtaking dive into
a cold pool.—PS
Costco.com offers two kinds of saunas for the
home: infrared and traditional. Both are available
in sizes that accommodate one to six people.
BY PEGGY SIJSWERDA
OR CENTURIES, humans around the
globe have been gathering in enclosed
spaces to sweat—a practice that continues today. Native Americans conduct
sweat lodge ceremonies. Koreans and
Mexicans sweat in dome-shaped structures. In
Finland, where the word “sauna” originated,
small wood-paneled rooms or buildings provide the setting.
All of these practices share the goal of bringing people together in a hot space to sweat. Sauna
bathers believe the experience offers physical,
spiritual and mental benefits. Many say it promotes relationship building and togetherness.
In fact, Finnish business meetings are sometimes held in saunas. But why?
Hot can be healthy
Experts say sauna bathing is a healthy activity for most people. A National Institutes of
Health study in ;;;; that found sauna bathing is
associated with a reduced risk of sudden cardiac
death and is linked to better overall cardiovascular health. More-recent studies say regular
sauna bathing may lower the risk of dementia
and Alzheimer’s, reduce the possibility of developing hypertension and provide relief for those
with acute and chronic respiratory conditions.
Most sauna fans claim that, in addition to
physical benefits, they experience a mental and
spiritual cleansing. Costco member Rusty
Everett, executive vice president of a tech firm in
California, heads for his outdoor barrel sauna
when he needs to do a lot of “deep, critical think-
ing.” It frees his mind and allows him to think in
different directions, he says.
Everett’s children, ages ;; and ;;, also enjoy
the sauna, which they call the “hot box.” In fact,
Everett and his wife are convinced that using the
sauna helps their family ward off colds and illness. (Consult with your doctor before jumping
into the heat, and kids should be supervised.)
Sweating the details
Costco member Rick Mouw, owner of Almost
Heaven Saunas, a Costco supplier, says not
everybody understands the differences between
traditional versus infrared saunas.
Traditionally, a dry sauna uses rocks heated
in specially designed heaters to increase the
temperature of the air to ;;; F, while reducing
the humidity to a bare minimum. A wet (or
steam) sauna occurs when water is poured on the
rocks, and the resulting steam makes the air feel
even hotter. Infrared saunas use heating panels,
which produce infrared light, as opposed to radiant heat. The infrared light rays increase your
body temperature by penetrating your skin, and
can do so at a lower temperature than traditional
saunas. Infrared saunas warm up faster than traditional saunas but are not designed to use water
or generate steam.
Whichever method you prefer, Mouw says a
hidden benefit of sharing a sauna is that it’s one
of the few places where you can still enjoy the art
of conversation. “You talk with your spouse or
your kids or your friends,” he says. “You get the
cleansing, you get the endorphin release in your
body and you relax. You sleep better than ever
because you’re just so cleansed and relaxed. It’s
absolutely delightful.” C
Peggy Sijswerda writes about wellness and travel.
The heat ıs on
FOR YOUR HEALTH
Almost Heaven Princeton
6-Person Outdoor Steam
Sauna (Item #1198572;