Sauna Q&A / Jan Seepter

Expert advice on getting steamed

03 Jun 2021

To heat your body, it is good to lie down on the sauna bench – its size permitting, of course. If needed, the bench should be cooled with water or, if you do not want the steam room to become too humid, place a towel underneath. Lying on the sauna bench allows for a uniform temperature for both the top of the head as well as the soles of feet.

If you sit in the steam room, your head will be in the hottest part of the bench area. Those with a lower tolerance of heat should use a felt or woollen sauna hat to protect the head from overheating.
Do not throw copious amounts of water on the stones until your body has started to sweat profusely. The humidity introduced to the sauna room by vaporisation condensates on skin surface and covers pores, thus, the intensity of sweating is greatly reduced and the toxins accumulated under the skin cannot be released.

When using herbs or essential oils in the steam water, their effect on the mood should also be considered besides their healing properties. The rule of the thumb is: do not use scents that you do not like. It would be good if you have someone to entrust with whisking. In such a case, your body will be whisked evenly and you can focus on relaxation while still in the sauna room. Provided that you cool your head with cold water from time to time you can enjoy whisking longer and heat can penetrate deeper inside the body.

After having been in the heat for some time, it is highly recommended that you cool down properly. A cool/cold show is perfect for this. You may also have cool water poured down on you. It is important to cool down the head as almost 25% of the blood circulation is busy with servicing the head. Cooling the head and changes in the blood supply (contraction of the vessels) gives the wings to your sauna flights.

The most effective way to bathe after proper steaming is to get in a body of water, pool or a vat. There you can submerge your whole body in the water, let the water carry and evenly cool you. Going into the water, staying there and coming out must be made so safe that you can concentrate solely on your sauna experience. You should also take into account that after some proper steaming and cooling down, the feeling in your body may substantially change due to the effects of endorphins and endocannabinoids, which may affect your coordination (spinning/roller coaster effect). Thus, it would be good to have somebody to accompany you in deeper waters and lend a helping hand if needed.

After bathing, it would also be good if it is possible for you to lie down and let the sauna procedures take effect. You may want to choose a place away from noiseoutside in the yard or inside. If it is cold outside/in the room or the surface is unpleasantly hard, lie on a mattress and cover yourself with a big towel and/or blanket. To achieve a deeper state of relaxation, lie on the back and relax the chin (let it rest on the breast, so to say). During the whole lie-in exercise, you should inhale and exhale in deep long breaths through the mouth. Exhalations should be steeper, with a sigh. In this way, first your facial muscles and then the rest of the body will relax, disrupting the ever-spinning thread of thoughts, which in turn allows even deeper relaxation of the body.

Jummal sekka!*

*This is how Estonians would greet those joining a sauna party.