A good ol' sweat session (of any kind) always makes the body feel good. This is simply a fact. But let's be honest, even though I'm Finnish I generally opt out of a sauna. I'm just not into the whole heat blaring onto my skin while I sit there in pain situation. Not to mention that I feel completely knocked out and ready for bed afterwards. It's not the preferred sweat session I have in mind.
The infrared sauna totally changed the game for me though. After numerous articles touting it's benefits I decided to give it a go in the name of "health". And while I was expecting it to be similar to a regular sauna (and me not being stoked on it) I walked out pleasantly surprised with stoke levels high. Contrary to the way my body feels after a regular sauna, I was full of energy, completely content and in one of the best "zen zones" I'd been in quite some time.
Upon walking into Sweat Theory I was greeted by a sweet, smiley woman with glowing skin. Ah, the glowing skin gets me every time! If I sit sweating my ass off in a sauna enough I'll look like her - right? After taking my clothes off and jumping into my personal little sauna I was immediately itching for it to be over (que: conditioned behavior). I popped in a meditation CD (yes, they had physical CD's) and was well on my way to pure bliss. The timer was set for 60 minutes at 135 degrees. I was convinced I'd maybe last 15 minutes, max. 45 minutes in I was sweating (in a very different kind of way) without my eyes starring at the clock. The difference in infrared saunas is that it uses light to penetrate the skin but does not warm the air around you, which I found to be a much more pleasurable experience. The light warms your insides up quickly, boosting your metabolic rate so you're actually burning calories (say what?)! I hoped out, got into a nice cool shower and was on my way. Well, after a shot of black liquid they gave me to replace the minerals I lost during the sweat session.
After the sauna I felt perfectly peaceful yet completely awake and energized. I genuinely enjoyed it... and was immediately seeing my wallet getting smaller with this new addiction forming. I'm completely sold.
In case you're still not sure... here a few of the benefits to consider:
- CLEANSE - saunas have been used for hundreds of years (especially Scandinavian regions) for mental, spiritual and physical cleansing. Native American Indians also used "sweat lodges" for their cleansing and purifying abilities. I.e we have had CENTURIES of ancestors experiencing tremendous benefits of a sauna. You can't argue with that.
- DETOXIFY - while any type of sweating in nice and detoxing, the infrared sauna benefits the body by heading it directly causing a rise in the core temperature resulting in a deep, detoxifying sweat at the cellular level, where toxins reside.
- WEIGHT LOSS - the more you sweat, the less you weigh... but that is simply water weight. However, there have been studies done showing that infrared saunas burn anywhere from 200-600 calories in a half hour session. Yes, I just told you that you can sit on your ass and burn calories.
- PAIN RELIEF - people suffering from chronic pains have used thermal heating treatments to find relief for years. There have been countless studies showing that regular and repeated thermal therapies are promising methods for lowering chronic pain that can interfere with quality of life without the need for medications.
- RELAXATION + STRESS REDUCTION - infrared saunas help to balance your body's cortisol levels, which is your body's primary stress hormone. The heat also relaxes the muscles and relieves tension in the body for well after your time in the sauna. Not to mention that you can use it as your meditation space. We all know that does the body some stress-busting good.
I tested it out at Sweat Theory in West Hollywood for the first time, but with a little bit of google research I've found more than a dozen places within minutes of my home. (Gah, I love LA). I highly encourage you to check one out in your area!