Friday, March 8, 2013

The Spirit of Sauna

I've been having some issues with my email, so if you would like to receive a message when I post, please email or click "Subscribe by email" at the bottom of this post

One of the things in my new normal has got to be exercise and so far this week I've made it three times.  To be truthful, the first two days I only worked on machines for 20-30 minutes but today I did an hour-long Nia class.  If you don't know Nia, 

"Nia is a sensory-based movement practice that draws from martial arts, dance arts and healing arts. It empowers people of all shapes and sizes by connecting the body, mind, emotions and spirit." 

I only know that it's a very freeing and physical way to get your workout and so count on me to be there Thursday mornings.  The real motivation for the trips to the gym is the reward of being able to enter the sauna and bake, because for me, a visit to the sauna is almost spiritual.

My first experience with a sauna was in the 70s when this New York power couple I babysat for built one in their home on Fire Island.  Sitting naked in that hot, hot wooden room was liberating. Taking the wooden scoop and splashing a ladleful of water on the hot rocks made the room hiss and the heat rise.  Following the Scandanavian ritual, we'd take a shockingly cold outdoor shower to wash away the sweat and tighten the pores.  It felt like you were new. In the 80s when I went to visit my friend Ann, she had a sauna built in her home (as well as an indoor hot tub), at the top of her solarium. You reached it by climbing a spiral metal staircase  in Chickasha, Oklahoma!   

When you first open the wooden door of a sauna, you get hit by a blast of hot air and then you settle in. I like the upper level where the heat is most intense.  I settle up there  wrapped in my towel enveloped by warmth and dark. The hot dry air encases you and soon makes your skin tingle.  A drop or two of sweat drips down the back of your neck.  If you move, your skin touches the burning cedar surrounding you. I breathe deep and my nostrils feel tinged by the fire of that air.

If I'm alone, basking in the sauna, I close my eyes and talk to my sister.  I feel as if she's there listening  but she doesn't respond.  Still it makes me feel her presence and that comforts me.  In the quiet and the dark, I lose myself in my emotions.  Then the door opens, someone enters, the blast of regular air cools the intensity down, and I've lost the connection to Donna.  The entering sauna-lover doesn't know I'm crying, because after ten minutes you expect rivulets of sweat running from your eyes down the sides of your cheeks.

Twelve minutes and I'm feeling a bit light-headed  I need to hit the shower.  But I'm smiling because it's the third time this week that I got to recharge my battery in the house of sauna.  One of the perks of my new normal.


  1. Nice.....embrace the "new normal"

  2. Yes sounds like the beginning of a nice new structure! :)

  3. Having a healthy lifestyle is what most people concerned about, that’s why a lot of people are discovering or inventing more ideas on how to achieve it. Sauna is one discovery that people loved the most nowadays, because it has a benefit that’s not only focus in physical but also in emotional aspect just like you experienced. It’s a stress reliever and helps one person to achieve a relaxing sleep and more. Anyway, thank you for sharing your experience.

    Neil Dalby