The Art of Sauna
- by yoga facilitator Hanna Huhtonen
To take a sauna in Finnish culture, is to rest and just be, without making a fuss out of it. For Finns, going to the sauna is something super normal – we sauna year round. It's not something we need to rationalise for ourselves. We are taught as little kids that sauna is a tie to be in the moment with nature and with our bodies, and view it as a peaceful and calm experience.
And where some countries have sauna rituals with essential oils and extra steam, we Finns tend to do as little as possible.
That is our ritual. The art of just being.
But in midsummer, it's all about birch leaves in the Nordics. We like to use birch leave bush to hit our backs in the sauna. It promotes blood circulation, which is great for the skin. And the young leaves in particular smell divine! (But they also leave a lot of mess!)
We do not need to know how healthy it is for us to sweat and sit in a heated room, we do not need to know all the statistics or wellness benefits of sauna as they are touted in spas and wellness centres, we know it in our bodies. We feel it.
It just feels good and that is enough.
It's the feeling when you walk into a serene body of water. When you feel safe with someone. When you hug your pet. When you wake up on Sunday morning and take a stretch. The moment when you end your meditation. The movement of your body. The feeling when are enveloped in your favourite colour or smelling your favourite scent. The 'sauna effect' can show up in many ways, but they all have the same outcome: a sense of peace and calm.
images L-R by lassi and Santtu Perkio