Before you sauna
There are a few simple practicalities to ensure you have a great sauna experience.
Decide on your sauna garments. A swim suit or shorts are required for open sauna, but private sauna sessions are often taken in the nude. It's useful to bring a robe for the outdoor phases of the session. Wear your sauna garments under comfortable street clothes.
Take a shower within a few hours before sauna, for hygienic reasons and to remove lotions or skin oils, which delay the sweating process. Similarly, cosmetics and hair products can react poorly with heat and should also be removed.
Bring slip-on shower shoes, flip flops or some other easy shoe to put on outside. The ground is very cold.
Bring an extra towel to use at the end of the sauna.
Only bring the essentials, and leave behind large bags, extra clothes, jewelry, cell phones and valuables.
Eat an easily digestible snack or light meal. Too full or too hungry are both distracting.
Refrain from consuming alcohol.
Be sure sauna is right for your body. A heart condition, an injury, and pregnancy are common reasons not to sauna.
Set aside two hours for the sauna and plan to arrive 10 or 15 minutes early to settle in, drink water, and use the washroom.
At the SAUNA
When you arrive you'll chat with the host who will make sure you're ready for your sauna, and have you complete a waiver on your first visit. There is a shared vestibule where you can change and store your possessions, before entering the hot sauna space. The temperature will range from 70-100° Celsius.
You will sit on a towel in the sauna for about 10-20 minutes, and the goal is to be still, and sweat. This is followed by a cool down period of 5-20 minutes. It’s common to enter and exit the sauna a number of times, creating a hot/cold cycle. The cool down is an important part of the sauna experience. The cycle of increased body temperature followed by a return to neutral body temperature has an exhilarating affect and adds benefit to skin by opening and restricting pores. The cool cycle is augmented with a pour of chilly water over the body. The hot cycle is augmented with humidity and aromatic enhancements sought by throwing water over the stove containing a heap of stones to produce vapor.
Sauna is a communal experience that includes some etiquette. For comfort and hygiene all sauna goers always have a towel to sit on. The hot space is meant for limited purposeful conversation. It is a special opportunity to sit quietly with friends and acquaintances, without phones or distractions, and just do nothing together. it is a time to be very sensitive to the needs and comfort of the people around you. In contrast, the cool down time is energetic, with chats and stories flowing naturally from the exhilaration of the cool down.
after THE SAUNA
Plan to avoid strenuous mental or physical activity for a few hours afterward, and enjoy your sauna bliss! You may feel ready for some gentle yoga, a hearty meal or a deep sleep. It's pleasant to take some time for a nice shower and skin care at home, to share a meal with your fellow-sauna goers. Heading straight to bed is just as natural as heading out for a beer. Listen to your body and spend your post-sauna time doing what feels right.