How to take a sauna - Finnish style

Posted on June 24 2020

How to take a sauna

I grew up with saunas. My Finnish grandfather made sure that everyone in our family had a sauna. He blowtorched the wood to make it look authentic - pale, pine wood wall was for Swedes, who knew nothing about saunas.

A sauna is one of my favorite self-care rituals, it’s relaxing & reinvigorating at the same time. Most of my problems are solved & ideas are born in the sauna. It should be done properly though; sitting in a warm room with pale pine walls for a few minutes is not taking a sauna. There is more to it than that.

How to take a sauna

There are many views on how to take a sauna, when to take it and for how long. I’m a strong believer in that if it feels good for you, you’re doing it right. However, if you want to stick to tradition and do it like the Finns here’s how:

Dry sauna
  1. Heat the sauna to 85-95 degrees Celsius (if you’re a rookie go for the lower temperature).
  2. Start with a dry sauna, no steam, just heat. Sit until you can’t stand it any longer. (It’s important to listen to what your body is telling you and not challenges from the person next to you)
  3. When you can’t stand it anymore jump in the ocean/lake (or a cold shower). In winter, the classic way of doing it is to go outside and roll in the snow.
  4. Once you cooled off, go back in side the sauna. Now is a good time to pour water on the heater to produce steam. A real Finn would also have birch rods that are used to hit oneself with. I guess it’s a form of massage – never tried it, but it’s the traditional way of doing it. An alternative is to use a dry brush and brush your entire body. A great exfoliator & increases blood flow.
  5. Stay in the sauna until you can’t take it anymore, jump in the water, then go back to the sauna and so on.
  6. Once you’ve had enough of the hot & cold treatment finish off with a final dip in the ocean/ shower.

 Afterwards it’s important to drink plenty of water to rehydrate.


When to take a sauna

Anytime is a good time. Personally I prefer it early morning or late at night. If I have a sauna in the morning I make sure my final shower is cold. That gets the blood pumping and you feel energized. If I take a late night sauna I end it all with a warm shower (or just sit in the sauna to warm up before I get dressed). The heat relaxes the muscles & lays a solid foundation for a goodnights sleep.

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