3/24/2010

THE FINNISH SAUNA

Sauna: What is it? Webster defines it as "The Finnish bath in steam from water thrown on heated stones, accompanied by stroking with cedar or birch boughs; also the bathhouse." The Finns have had sauna's as long as history remembers. In Finland they were and still are, log cabins built just for this purpose. The Finns who immigrated to the New World built a sauna, first and their house later, on their homesteads.

A sauna consists of a well insulated building or room, family size sauna rooms are generally 6 feet by 9 feet containing a heater which can be electric, gas or wood burners. Each heater contains the required amounts of stones onto which small quantities of water are thrown to increase the humidity and induce faster perspiration. These stones are very important as heat retainers and for producing different degrees of humidity. A sauna room must also heat until all the interior surfaces of the walls are saturated with heat, this generally takes about 45 to 60 minutes. Operating temperatures depend often upon the individual, the novice should begin at about 175 degrees F. and work his way up to about 200 degrees F. At the higher temperatures less water is used on the stones.

What benefits can be expected? The hot dry air induces perspiration throughout the body. This cleans out the pores, which is not possible in a hot shower or shower bath, this will also loosen the dead outer skin. The sauna makes the limbs feel supple, the entire body is relaxed and it will induce deep sleep. Sauna heat will relax stiff muscles in the body. If one has been chilled by cold rain or winter weather, the best thing is a good hot sauna bath which will increase the body temperature and circulation. A sauna bath being taken in the morning before breakfast is the most inspirational and invigorating activity before one tackles the rush of our modern world.

Saunas are becoming more and more popular; motels, hotels, clubs, private homes and apartment houses are installing them in record numbers. They are also becoming a new status symbol replacing the swimming pools. A good sauna bath, then a quick shower and top it off with a swim, that's the way to live.
That, my friends, is a Sauna. My sauna is heating up now.
Norman Manninen

(Source: The Bulletin, Vol. 12 No. 7, July, 1963)


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