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Sauna bathing is what it is

photo: Jim Brandenburg, Ely, MN, USA

Consider that sauna is bathing.

Yes, sauna provides a lot of other great things – like relaxing of mind, muscles.  the mental reset button.  But fundamentally sauna is bathing.

  • A hot tub is NOT bathing.
  • A steam shower is NOT bathing.
  • Sauna is bathing.

For centuries, saunas tucked in rural farmlands and dotted along shorelines have provided a functional bathing experience for their users.  Traditionally, Saturday is sauna night.  The weekly ritual of a family sauna.  Often women and children first, then the men.  Then a family dinner, all clean and happy as a set up for Sunday church or chilling out as a day of rest to follow.  Many homes in Finland and Northern Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have resisted modern plumbing, and “conveniences” of a bathroom with a modern shower.   The resistance is not because of luddite stubbornness or frugality.

People at their cottages, cabins, hunting shacks, etc. maintain the sauna bathing tradition by choice.

nw514-trip-to-the-sauna
Trip to the sauna. Photo by Jim Brandenburg

Today, we are full of abundance.

When we built our cabin, for example, we designed and built a shower in the bathroom.  In 20 years, I have never used our cabin shower.  Come to think of it, I hope I die never having used our cabin shower.  I don’t know about you, but I hope I go out like one of those old souls, marching down to sauna with his bucket of water well into old age.  I hope I die within 24 hours of my last sauna.

When you have a sauna, you don’t need a shower.

Sauna bathing is what it is.

photo (1)
sauna bathing: providing a better view than a bathroom shower.

5 thoughts on “Sauna bathing is what it is”

  1. Well said. There’s no clean like sauna-clean. Besides, I’m not allowed to beer in the shower anymore, so…

  2. Great post! I’m chuckling as I type my comment. We also have a shower in the cabin bathroom that I seldom use. When I do use the shower, even though I feel like I’m the king of the lake with that hot running water, I still prefer the sauna or lake because as kids, we were relegated to scrubbing up in the lake. As an adult, I’m trying to teach my own kids the joy of cabin living and cabin bathing. Anyone can step into a shower anytime and clean up. It’s only the lucky few that can slow down and bathe in a sauna or grab a bar of soap and jump into a pristine lake. Cheers, my friends and keep the steam going!

  3. Yes, Mike! “slow down the bathing process.”

    My friend Barbara, of Finnish descent, compares sauna bathing to the current rage of “slow cooking”. I’m not brushed up on slow cooking, but I think it is a chic thing because it is the equal and opposite reaction to our current culture of being over programmed, over worked, over scheduled.

    We sauna enthusiasts don’t need to sign up for this noise. Sauna bathing is our time. And another thing, we don’t need any of those products filling up the isles at Walgreens.
    http://www.saunatimes.com/health-and-wellness/sauna-your-best-hair-tonic/

  4. Excellent, and necessary post!
    I have a good friend who has developed this whole emotional cleansing ritual around sauna. “The first heat is for setting intentions, the second is for bringing up obstacles, the third is for letting it go.” Or something silly like that. Anyway, if that works for her, that’s fine, but she tries to teach other newbies her system.
    I’ll agree the spiritual potential of the sauna environment can be most evocative. The wood, the cedar scent, the heat, the dark and quiet, the close space, the vulnerability of nudity, etc.
    But, I always try to correct her, “Sauna is primarily about one thing: bathing.” I also talk about it being “Slow Bathing”, ala the Slow Cooking movement. When a group of new people are over, I say, “Sauna Saturday is about getting together for an evening of socializing and bathing.”

  5. This post still resonates. We spent part of last weekend at the cabin, where there’s no running water in winter. I used the sauna both days we were there and as usual, felt great afterwards. . The whole process is different in winter. Chop some kindling. Get the fire started. Auger a hole in the ice for bath water. Fill buckets and carry them up the hill. Stoke the fire. Relax for awhile as the hot room warms to 150° F. And then….head in and ride the temp up to 180° F or so and enjoy.

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