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Sauna Protocols

This section is intended to benefit experienced sauna enthusiasts and novices alike. Below you will find two sauna protocols; one for novices and another for seasoned aficionados who are looking to hone their sauna skills. 

Basic protocol for novices

Welcome to your sauna journey. Our aim is to help guide you through your experience so that in time you will have all the tools required to enjoy an immersive and fulfilling sauna experience like the most seasoned Finns. 

 

To summarize what you are about to read, start slow and low. Ensure proper cool downs between rounds. Build up over time. Have patience and you will grow to love it. 

 

The Basics

 

Sauna bathing is at the core of the Finnish identity. An integral part of the culture for thousands of years, today most Finns take at least 2-3 saunas a week, either alone, with family or friends, or at one of the many public saunas dotting the Finnish landscape. 

 

Proper prep

 

Ensure proper hydration. Drink lots of water in the hours leading up to your sauna as drinking water during your sauna session isn’t nearly as effective as pre-hydrating. 

Try not to eat anything substantial within the two hours leading up to your sauna session as your body needs the energy it would use for digestion to process the heat. Do have a light snack in the hours leading up to your sauna as your body will want some energy to deal with the heat. 

 

The Sauna Session

 

Allow for 2-3 hours for your sauna experience. 

Bring on the heat

 

Sauna bathing is not automatically pleasurable. This is ok. As you acclimatize to the heat; both during the individual session and over time, the heat will begin to be enjoyable. Key to your enjoyment is having access to a cold water or at least cold air source in between rounds. 

 

Depending on the temperature of the sauna (assuming a standard range of 70C-90C) choose either the higher or lower bench, whichever feels more comfortable. Aim to spend at least 15 minutes in the heat – the longer you stay, the more your core heats up which makes your cool down session more enjoyable. NOTE: you will probably feel like you are too hot within a few minutes. Much like at the outset of a workout, there is a level of discomfort to work through. Work through it, you are not in danger.

 

Bring a water bottle with you as occasional sips throughout your session will extend your cycle lengths. For the first few cycles and even sessions, don’t worry about throwing water on the rocks; while the steam this generates (löyly) is a key part of a sauna experience, the effect of it on your skin can be a bit much right out of the gates. Work up to it and you will grow to love it. 

Time to chill

 

When you start to feel like the heat is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate exit the sauna and slowly immerse yourself in cold water. Aim for 15C water to start off with. It’s plenty cold enough.

 

Lower yourself into the water up to your waist. Acclimatize then continue until you are fully submerged. Spend a few seconds under water and then bring your head back above the surface and spend another 3-5 minutes in the water with it up to your neck. This is an important step in the cool down process as if you leave the water too quickly your core temperature won’t have had a chance to come down enough and your next sauna round will be compromised.

 

After exiting the water take another 5 minutes in the natural environment to continue allowing your body to return to its normal state. Repeat the cycle 2-5 times (each cycle should last between 25 and 35 minutes). 

 

Note if you don’t have a body of cold water available spend 2-4 minutes in a cold shower, roll in the snow, or spend 15 minutes in cold, outdoor air. In the absence of any of these, have buckets of cold water at the ready in your sauna and douse yourself thoroughly before exiting and resting outside the sauna room. 

The final cool down

For your last cycle abbreviate it in the following manner. After your last cool down spend only 5-10 minutes in the sauna to warm up. This will help you avoid chills after your sauna session. Then rinse off; either a quick plunge into your water source or a brief shower. This will a) rinse off the sweat and b) help close up your sweat pores. 

 

Post Sauna

 

Once you have enjoyed several sauna cycles – either a predetermined number or whenever your body tells you it is content (knowing this feeling will come over time) – and have rinsed off, take 10 minutes to rest comfortably to allow your body to adjust to normal conditions as well as close up its sweat pores. You don’t want to get dressed before this so you don’t get clammy and sweaty in your clothes. 

 

Drink more fluids. Consider adding electrolytes to your beverage.  Enjoy something to eat; not too heavy but substantial enough to ward off hunger pangs which often accompany sauna sessions. 

 

Timing

 

Most people enjoy their sauna either in the morning or evening. Morning sessions are usually shorter so as to not drain you of too much energy – remember sauna sessions are equivalent to moderate workouts. Evening sessions can either be taken before dinner, usually resulting in a ravenous appetite, or later in the evening (at least 2 hours after eating) before bed, leading to deep, restful sleep.

Advanced protocol for serious enthusiasts

COMING SOON!

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