Saunas have long been valued around the world for the deeply healing and relaxing experience that they offer.
They exemplify the perfect intersection of mindfulness, relaxation, positive social interaction, and active healing. In Finland (where the practice originated), sitting in a sauna is even approached as a sacred activity deserving of reverence.
You’ve probably already experienced the blissful rejuvenation that a good sauna experience provides. If not, you’re missing out!
They’re great for more than just relaxation, though. When integrated into a healthy lifestyle, sauna usage can be powerfully healing for both the body and mind.
Isn’t it wonderful when things that feel good are also good for us?
Here’s some reasons this feel-good activity should be a part of your life…
They’ll teach you to let go
We might as well start with the most obvious benefit of sauna use.
In today’s hectic world, the value of any activity that allows us to unwind, let go, and reset shouldn’t be underestimated.
A sauna session is a great way to step away from our busy schedules and consciously direct our attention toward our health and wellness. Stress-tightened muscles and racing thoughts are no match for a nice, hot sauna sit!
And stress relief is not something to be taken lightly. Stress has been linked to every leading cause of death, and it’s estimated that 90% of all doctor visits are due to stress-related issues.
Through the simple action of setting aside time for a sauna session, you can begin to accustom yourself to prioritizing activities that minimize your level of stress.
They’ll take your detoxing to the next level
It’s nearly impossible to stay vibrantly healthy without regular detoxification practices. Every part of our daily living environment is rife with toxins—and thus, so is your body, unless you take the time to clean it out.
Saunas are an incredibly powerful detox accelerator. Anyone who’s ever used them knows how much they make you sweat—and sweating just happens to be one of the major ways in which the body excretes toxins.
Heat also increases vasodilation, which ensures that optimal blood flow flushes toxins out of muscles and tissue. This process is amplified when you interrupt your sauna session with a cold plunge, which causes immediate vasoconstriction and helps push out stagnant toxins.
The beneficial vasodilation caused by sauna use is so pronounced that one study even found that it increased the endurance of distance runners by up to 32%.
There’s even evidence that the specific kind of heat stress induced by sitting in a sauna raises the body’s levels of detoxification enzymes called catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD).
They increase vitality and decrease the likelihood of illness
Of all the magical feats that saunas can work upon your body, this one is perhaps the most surprising: studies demonstrate that a 30-minute, uninterrupted sauna session can raise your levels of human growth hormone (hGH), which many refer to as “the vitality hormone.”
Human growth hormone is absolutely central to the growth of our bodies and brains. Because of its role as a catalyst for muscle growth, athletes and bodybuilders work awfully hard to keep their hGH levels elevated. How ironic, then, that you can do so just by relaxing in a sauna!
The vitality enhancement offered by sauna use extends to your heart and immune system, as well.
The Cardiovascular and Prevention Centre at Quebec’s Université de Montréal discovered that exercise and sauna dramatically improves the symptoms of hypertension for 24 hours following the session, and a study conducted at the Austria’s University of Vienna found that regular sauna bathers have a far lower incidence of the common cold.
While the mechanisms by which saunas exert their healing power are undoubtedly complex, many researchers attribute it to their unique combination of detox enhancement and tendency to build stress resistance.
Think of a sauna session like a homeopathic dose of stress. Over time, your body develops the ability to deal with stressors in a more effective manner—which leads to a stronger heart, a more vital immune system, and enhanced overall health.
As wonderfully health-promoting as sauna use can be, though, there’s one way that you can take its healing potential to whole new level.
Supercharge your sauna experience with far infrared therapy
Far infrared saunas are similar to those that we know and love, with a slight twist: invisible waves of energy known as far infrared waves (FIR) are distributed throughout the enclosure.
These infrared rays are able to penetrate deeply into all layers of the body, thus deepening the already impressive detoxification, relaxation, and healing that comes along with sauna use.
If this all sounds like some scary new technology, don’t worry: far infrared therapy is an ancient practice. Modern science has shown that our hands, our bodies, and the sun emit FIR rays at all times. This is why “palm healing” and “the laying on of hands” have been such widely used healing techniques for thousands of years.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that far infrared saunas have numerous remarkable healing abilities. Among other things, they’ve been shown to…
Facilitate weight loss by increasing blood flow and stimulating metabolism.
Ameliorate chronic fatigue by relieving stress, decreasing inflammation, and ridding the body of toxins.
Clear skin conditions by cleaning the liver and kidneys, thus relieving the body of its toxin-processing burden.
Boost the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells and killer T-cells.
Far infrared saunas are now available for installation in your own home (and they’re more affordable than you might expect), and the trend is catching on at many spas and health centers too.
Far infrared or not, just make an effort to become a more regular sauna bather (if you’re not already)…your body and mind will thank you.