How to take a sauna in Helsinki

From what to wear to what to do, here are 10 tips for sauna newbies.

sauna Helsinki

article excerpt from cnn

1. Wood works: Finnish saunas are dimly lit and made of pine wood. You won’t find colorful lights, fragrant aromas or music.
2. The heat is on: The Finns like their saunas hot, usually up to 100 C. So keeping hydrated and drinking lots of water is crucial. It’s not a competition to see who can last the longest — breaks should be taken to cool down.
3. Keep it clean: You should always take a shower first so you enter the sauna clean. Showering in between or taking a dip in ice-cold water or even snow is all part of the experience. The cold is a shock to warm bodies at first, but is quite exhilarating.
4. Clothing is optional: While Finns don’t hesitate to go nude (there are separate areas for men and women in public saunas), there’s no obligation to strip down completely. Wearing a swimsuit or covering up with a towel is totally acceptable.
5. Follow the vibe: While most Finnish sauna experiences involve getting naked, there’s nothing sexual about it. Any innuendo won’t be well received by the locals.
It’s about physical and spiritual cleansing and well-being. It’s also about bonding and socializing, but it’s a place of reflection too — take in the vibe when you enter and follow that as a social cue.
6. Towels rule: Naked skin should not hit the pine wood of the sauna. Sauna-goers should sit on their towel or use the ones provided in many of the public sauna complexes.
7. Food is fine: Seeing Finns eating and drinking in saunas is normal. This is part of the cultural experience.
8. Steam to taste: There aren’t really rules about creating löyly (the steam that comes off the rocks after water hits them). So if you enter a sauna and you’d like it a bit warmer, it’s OK to take charge and throw some water on the stove (kiuas).
9. Whipping is normal: A vasta or vihta might be offered. This bunch of birch twigs is traditionally used to gently whip skin, especially over the shoulders. It’s said to improve circulation and Finns maintain it enhances the overall experience.
10. It’s for everyone: The sauna is for everyone, men, women and children — although those with serious health conditions should seek medical advice beforehand.
By Maria Pasquale, CNN
View complete article

Leave a Reply