From Native American inipi sweat lodges to Japanese onsen springs, people have enjoyed hot steam baths all across the world, for thousands of years.
The most well-known steam bath is the sauna, originating in Finland and still a very popular part of Finnish lifestyle. Did you know that the word ‘sauna’ is actually Finnish – the only Finnish word you can find in the English dictionary.
Meaning ‘bath’ or ‘bathhouse’, the word has become associated with relaxation, indulgence and glowing good health, and it’s not hard to see why. Modern saunas are connected to increased circulation, greater weight loss, more relaxed muscles, and other great benefits.
Today we’ll look at how Finnish culture contributed saunas for the rest of the world, giving us a wonderful way to improve our health and wellbeing.
Traditional Finnish Saunas
It’s believed that the first saunas existed in Finland more than 2000 years ago.
These oldest form of saunas in Finland were made from simple holes dug into the ground, or in embankments, with a fireplace used to heat stones up to a high temperature. Water was then poured onto the hot stones, making steam and heat rise throughout the air.
Later, saunas were built above ground, in the form of small cabins. No chimneys were installed, meaning smoke from the fireplace would fill the interior space and the room would become very hot. People would then enter the heated room to enjoy the freshness and relaxation benefits of the steam bath.
To this day, you’ll still find steam saunas in many Finnish homes, based on the same principle of pouring water onto hot coals to produce heat and steam.
The Progression of Saunas, Worldwide
As Finnish and Scandinavian people moved to different areas of the world, they took their traditions with them – including the sauna. They soon became popular in America and other regions of Europe, particularly popular in Baltic countries. While the traditions and the concepts of the sauna remained true, they didn’t always retain their design.
Other cultures experimented with sauna designs, and towards the 1940s electric sauna stoves became popular for leisure use.
Today’s Modern Infrared Saunas
Today, infrared saunas lead the way in technology and design, and are far removed from steam baths of the past.
These modern saunas harness infrared technology to heat up your body, from the inside out. Whereas traditional saunas work with steam, created from pouring water onto hot rocks to warm your body, infrared saunas use bands of far infrared to deeply penetrate your skin and warm your body throughout.
This gives them an advantage over simple traditional style saunas, with natural health benefits far more advanced than older steam baths.
If you’re interested to find out more about the history of saunas, and how they’ve evolved to the infrared saunas of today, talk to the team at iHealth Sauna. They can introduce you to the wonderful benefits of infrared technology and help answer any of your questions.