To the lay person, a sauna can merely refer to the wood or tile room where people sit and sweat it out. To a sauna aficionado, the sauna is a full sensory experience, and an integral part of the overall spa experience: from warming up on wood benches or lounge chairs with the source of heat (either dry or steam) emanating from a room's center, to going out beyond that room into the most luxurious lounge areas, pools, hot tubs, and outdoor areas that offer massage or treatments like facials, manicures and pedicures. In some countries, such as Germany, spa visits are not a luxury but a necessity. In Finland, there are built-in saunas in almost every house. And, at last, these sauna-spa services are now being offered by world-class residential towers as the new must-have luxe amenities.
The prepping phase involves a two-step process. First step to prepping for the sauna experience: Rinse off in the showers. This is no quick dip, you must be clean to enter the sauna. Soap and shampoo are often provided.
The Sweating Phase
Have you heard about the Aufguss ritual? Aufguss is the German word for infusion. Based on an ancient practice, this ritual heightens the effects of the traditional vaporization technique by using water enriched with natural essential oils. So when the water is poured onto the heated stones of a sauna, a burst of vapor with health enhancing properties is released.
Will it be a refreshing eucalyptus or honeysuckle today? And so, the sauna-goer's ceremonial experience reaches new depths.
And new heights.
Cooling down is a part of the sauna cycle and is as important as the heating. Among sauna-goers, it is considered good practice to take a few moments after exiting a sauna before entering a cold plunge, and to enter a plunge pool by stepping into it gradually, rather than immediately immersing fully.
A therapeutic sauna has been shown to aid adaptation, reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular conditions. Much like this scenic view, eh?
And cooling down even further with some bubbly, brings any sauna ritual to the perfect, ceremonial finale.
Except as otherwise noted, all images courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty