10 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Sauna Session
I am head over heels in love with sauna time; whether it’s a traditional finnish sauna or an infrared sauna- sitting on those wooden planks and sweating is just one of the best things ever. The benefits of sauna are extensive-
Benefits of Sauna:
1. Detoxifies Heavy Metals, BPA, PCB’s and other toxins
2. Boosts Metabolism
3. Boosts circulation/ blood flow
4. Boosts immune system
5. Boosts performance in endurance sports
6. Promotes faster recovery
7. Promotes healthy, vibrant skin
8. Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia
9. Boosts longevity
10. Improves joint mobility
11. Strengthens the heart
12. Reduces stress
I’ll explore the benefits of sauna more in depth soon, but today let’s dive into how you can get the most out of each session!
10 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Sauna Session
1. Workout first
The benefits we receive from heat shock proteins in the sauna are actually the same anytime the body heats up (exercise, hot bath, sunbathing), and having a vigorous workout before the sauna will not only pre-heat your body (and give you a better sweat in the sauna), but jumping in the sauna has proven to also increase the benefits of the workout and increase the speed of recovery.
2. Get Naked
Nudity not only enables your body to sweat freely, but more importantly: spending time naked is one of the best ways to promote self-love and acceptance. It can be a little scary at first to be so vulnerable, but it has been one of the most transformative habits in my own journey to self-acceptance. If you are going to be clothed, opt for as little as possible and breathable material (100% organic cotton).
For more on nudity and the power of self-love, I go in depth about this subject in Get Naked: The Healing Power of Nudity which you can read by licking the link below:
3. Dry Brushing
Dry brushing your skin will promote lymph circulation and has become a non-negotiable for me when it comes to a sauna session. Spending the first 5-10 minutes of the sauna dry brushing enables me to have a sweatier session, like tenfold. Dry brushing encourages cell renewal, exfoliates (smoother and brighter skin), improves digestion, boosts kidney function, detoxifies, cleans your pores, and boosts your energy. Learn how to dry brush below:
4. Gua Sha
Gua sha is like dry brushing for the face, but is performed with a particular scraping tool. It is an ancient oriental art, and is actually known as the “the Eastern facelift” because of how instant the results are. Draining excess lymph fluid will restore your face’s natural bounce and glow, and I find that doing your gua sha in the sauna just increases the results. Read all about the benefits (and how to do it!) in my Gua Sha 101 article below:
5. Stretch/ breath
Boost detoxification and improve flexibility with some gentle stretching and breathing exercises. Don’t go crazy because the sauna itself is a lot of (good) stress on the body, but some gentle stretching (particularly digestion boosting yogic moves like pulling your knee(s) to chest and cat/cow), neck stretching, etc, will get the blood flowing and boost detoxification; or some gentle pranayama breathing (like single nostril breathing) is also fab. Watch video below to learn how to single-nostril breath:
6. Essential Oils
Essential oils are powerful concentrations, and the sauna is a great time to get the benefits of aromatherapy. How you will use them depends on which type of sauna you use, and if its a personal or public sauna. If you are applying them directly to your skin be mindful of always diluting the essential oils before putting them on your skin. Some of my favourites are frankincense, neroli, rosemary, or eucalyptus. To learn the benefits of the most common essential oils, read the article below:
Clean water (spring or filtered) is a must, but why not take the opportunity to super-charge your water with:
Minerals: your body will be depleted of many minerals (you sweat them out!) so consider adding a pinch of sea salt and lemon to your water, or some humic fulvic minerals (FHC), or an electrolyte mix (avoid anything with added sweeteners or artificial flavours).
A detoxification agent: there are multiple detoxifying agents you can use to maximize the detox-aspect of your sauna session, including activated charcoal, or MSM powder.
Herbal infusions: is a great way to get a plethora of plant minerals, learn how to make your own by clicking the link below:
8. Podcast/ audiobook
Make the most out of your time in the sauna by listening to a podcast or audio book! Sometimes if I’ve had a really busy week I just sit in silence and use the time to meditate (aka chill the F out), sometimes I play a kirtan and chant (shoutout to the women who have walked in on me chanting- ha!), but most often I take the time to catch up on podcasts or listen to an audiobook.
Be mindful of other humans that are in the sauna (or enter!), I always turn off my audio stuff when someone else comes in.
One of my favourite chants:
9. Soap off
The sauna is a serious detox session, and the heat therapy is particularly good at getting out heavy metals like cobalt, cadmium, aluminum, and lead, as well as BPA’s (aka plastic poison). You want to make sure, however, that your skin isn’t reabsorbing the toxins by properly rinsing them off in the shower post-sauna with a non-emollient soap, like Castile (as explored by Dr. Dale E. Bredesen - see interview below with Dr. Rhonda Patrick below). I use Dr. Bronner’s tea tree soap.
10. Cold Shower (or plunge!)
Hot/ cold therapy has incredible benefits, and my personal favorite is how absolutely energized and alive I feel right after. Cold therapy improves circulation, relieves depression, strengthens the immune system, boosts testosterone, stimulates weight loss (burn fat), improve fitness performance, boost recovery, and much more.
Going straight from sauna to an ice cold shower can be a little much for some people; what I like to do is soap off (see #9) with some Dr. Bronner’s soap in lukewarm water, and then blast myself with as cold as the shower for 5+ minutes. Start slow (10 seconds, then 30, a minute… etc) and then make sure you wait a few minutes after shutting off the water before toweling off. A shiver is a good sign that your body is activating all those beneficial pathways that cold therapy has to offer!
Ben Greendield Fitness Podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/biohacking-podcasts/how-to-use-heat-exposure/
10 Benefits of Sauna: https://www.mamanatural.com/sauna-benefits/
11 Benefits of Sauna: https://www.finnleo.com/pages/health-and-wellness
Benefits of NIR: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC152311/
Boost brain function: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00691246
Reduced all cause mortality: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150223122602.htm
Sauna detoxing heavy metals: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21057782
Sauna and Alzheimer’s https://academic.oup.com/ageing/article/46/2/245/2654230