Traditional saunas originated during Neolithic times and have existed around the world for over 10,000 years. They’ve come a long way from being simple fire pits dug into the ground and enclosed with animal skin, but never lost their purpose as places of cleansing, healing, relaxing, bonding, and promoting overall wellness. Rancho La Puerta has three traditional saunas on property, as well as two infrared saunas.
On a lazy day, I found myself at the Women’s Spa Center for an infrared sauna session. I brought a good book and a quiet mind so I could spend the time reading and meditating. Luckily, I came prepared to sweat! After 30 minutes in the 151-degree Fahrenheit sauna, my skin was glistening like I’d just jumped into the pool. I drank nearly the entire pitcher of the orange-infused water provided in the private room like I was a fish out of water. I felt a little wiped out, like I often do after a day spent in the sunshine, but after a cool shower I felt more awake and ready to take on the day. When sleep came to me that night, I was out like a light until morning.
Infrared light is the type of light we perceive as heat. Infrared saunas use ceramic heaters to penetrate skin on a deeper level than regular saunas, providing all the health benefits of natural sunlight, without the dangerous effects on the skin. This means that the temperature in the infrared sauna can remain cooler than traditional saunas, which require much higher temperatures. Since the temperature reading is not an indicator of the benefit received from the use of the infrared sauna, maximum benefits are received regardless of the ambient temperature due to the penetration of the infrared rays into the body. The infrared sauna lamp penetrates the skin the deepest (up to three inches!) because the heat source is concentrated in a small area. While some people like the intense heat of the traditional sauna, many find it difficult to tolerate.
The benefits gained by a 30-minute session in the infrared sauna are so plenteous, they seem to never end. They include reduced stress, weight loss, detoxification, better skin, improved cardiovascular health, and relief from pain and chronic conditions. The targeted heat inhibits the sympathetic nervous system, enabling the body to relax, heal, and regenerate itself faster, causing recovery from many types of ailments. In a sauna session, you will naturally lose water weight quickly due to excessive sweating; you could burn up to 250 calories, which is equivalent to jogging 1.5 to 2.5 miles! Sweating is also a safe way to detoxify bodies of chemicals present in our environment, such as heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. The skin is the largest organ of the body and a major eliminative channel. For most people, the skin is congested with toxins. Sauna use eliminates those toxins through the sweat. Sweat allows dead skin cells, dirt, and bacteria to be flushed from pores, allowing them to detoxify at the cellular level and your skin to regain its natural glow.
Use these tips to help you achieve the most positive experience possible with maximum benefits:
- Do not exercise before using the sauna. Exercise stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which prohibits the body from receiving the wonderful benefits of the sauna.
- Drink 8-16 ounces of distilled or spring water before, during, and after a sauna session.
- Relax and rejuvenate in the sauna: sleep, meditate, read, or listen to music or an audiobook.
- Use one of the cool aromatherapy towels provided next to the infrared sauna to wipe sweat periodically throughout your session.
- Begin with only 20 minutes in the sauna. After a few uses, if you feel well enough to do so, you may increase to 30 or 40 minutes. Never begin with sessions longer than 20-minutes once a day, as this can cause healing reactions that are unpleasant and even dangerous. If you’re disabled or very heat sensitive, begin with 15 minutes or less in the sauna.
- Always rest for at least 15 minutes after a sauna session. Shower off and relax after your session to allow your body to readjust. Do not go right back to daily activities. It is best to use a sauna first thing in the morning or the last thing at night. These are the times when one is most relaxed, making it the most effective. The more you relax, the more you will sweat.
- Use a sauna twice a week, or as often as twice a day. Begin with a maximum of one session daily for no more than half an hour and work your way up.
- In the rare event that you experience pain or discomfort, feel faint, stop sweating, or if your heart starts to race, immediately discontinue sauna use.
- Consult your physician prior to sauna use if you have diabetes or heart disease, are using prescription drugs like beta-blockers or antihistamines, are intoxicated, are pregnant, are predisposed to bleeding, use a pacemaker, or have any neuropathy conditions that are associated with impaired sweating.
Be sure to schedule an infrared sauna session on your next Ranch visit to enjoy these impressive benefits!
Thank you to Kimberly at the Women’s Spa Center for scheduling my infrared sauna session and educating me about the benefits of proper sauna use. I can’t wait to try it again soon.