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Sauna Talk: Mikkel Aaland reporting from Ukraine

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Today on the global sauna bench, we Sauna Talk with Mikkel Aaland from inside and just back from war torn Ukraine.

Introduction from Minnesota

Before we dive into this episode, I’d like to paint a picture of where I am sitting and what i’m thinking about. I am speaking to you while sitting on my deck at our island cabin in Northern Minnesota. I can see about 8 miles to the East, along a shoreline dotted with islands and outcroppings of birch and pine. It’s a crystal clear day with light puffy clouds across the horizon.

I am wearing shorts. I am barefoot (vs. military boots), and I have just immersed myself from a cool morning swim. Random cold exposure being that much more effective than deliberate. There are no airplanes overhead. The aura is of calm and peace.

To my right, 25 or so steps down a walkway through the woods, sits our cabin sauna that we built in 1996. Original stove. Original design, it’s been my thermal tranquil oasis for decades. It exudes spiritual patina. Those of you with your own saunas know what i’m talking about. In sauna we are transformed with peace and tranquility.

I recently turned 60. I am scaling down my professional career in the food industry. Gratefully, I am free from contractual bullshit in the sauna industry. I get to work with who I like, and most all of us are really cool, thoughtful, conscious people. I am feeling mighty blessed, and in times like these, sitting quietly on the sauna bench or on the dock between sauna rounds, If i listen quietly enough, i can hear soft voices of people, even half way around the world, miles less fortunate.

Can you listen quietly enough to hear their voices?

And speaking of really cool, thoughtful, conscious people, I’d like to reintroduce to you Mikkel Aaland. Let’s have Mikkel help us hear these voices.

Sauna Talk: Mikkel Aaland in Ukraine, talking Sauna-Aid on local radio

Mikkel from Ukraine: three time Sauna Talk guest

It’s hard to put into words the respect and appreciation I have for Mikkel. With this episode, he has become a third time guest to the Sauna Talk podcast, outnumbering most all others by two. It’s a lot of Sauna Talk. Yet Mikkel, to me, brings Sauna Talk up a notch. Where many see a crescent, Mikkel sees the whole of the moon.

During our July 2016 podcast, we discuss his iconic book Sweat. On our September 2020 podcast, during sauna and the time of Corona, we discuss his Perfect Sweat Documentary project. And now today, you will hear in Mikkel’s voice how Ukrainians are dealing with the invasion of their country from within Ukraine. This is his third trip into Ukraine since the invasion. And with each trip, Mikkel is facilitating bringing a sauna with him to the war torn country of Ukraine.

But this Sauna Talk with Mikkel Aaland episode isn’t a downer. I promise you. You will hear about the wonderfulness of what sauna is bringing to the people of Ukraine. And we sauna enthusiasts can put two and two together to get an idea what sauna can do for people in distress. I get choked up during this interview, and that’s what sauna can do for us. Like many of us, we can take a lot of good löyly, but our edges can be soft.

I don’t know about you, but when I read and hear about the sacrifices and perils happening with the people in Ukraine, I get very bummed out. Can we do something is a valid question. And I’m happy to report, Mikkel Aaland is doing a lot more than just something.

Mikkel in the hot room with several appreciative Ukrainian girls from the village.


Yes, Sauna-Aid!  Mikkel is quick to compliment many others, yet he is leading the charge on behalf of Sauna Aid, a multinational initiative sponsored by the International Sauna Association.

This is a beautiful story of the magic of sauna. The power of sauna as community, therapy, healing, comradeship, wellness, mindfulness, peace. So many great attributes, let’s hear it from the words of Mikkel Aaland.

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1 thought on “Sauna Talk: Mikkel Aaland reporting from Ukraine”

  1. What a great idea. Sauna is restoration and contemplation. I learned new English word and more about sauna. Thank you for bringing it up to Ukraine!

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