A few months ago, when I sat down with my Doctor he recommended weekly sauna (amazing, yeah?) I needed to chill out and get my digestive fire back up to par. But despite all my efforts I didn’t get around to taking him up on that suggestion until this past weekend. I snuck away to the Hotel Viking in Newport, RI and knew I would take some time for self-care with a sauna visit.
I geared up by drinking a lot of water. I had a few drinks the night before and while I wouldn’t normally hop in a sauna the day after in fear of becoming too dehydrated, I knew this was my chance. After getting into the spa and getting cozy in my rob, I was taken upstairs to the infrared sauna. The air inside was hot but since there weren’t any coals, it felt lighter than most saunas.
What the infrared rays do is similar to that of the sun rays, sans harmful effects. It penetrates deep into the body helping to dislodge toxins. It’s said that infrared saunas can help reduce blood pressure, speed up metabolism, enhance immunity, burn calories, create radiant skin, give relief from pain or injuries and relax the body. Yes, just some more magic for you in this mystical Ayurveda world.
I did a 30 minute session and about halfway through I got out for a minute as to not overheat too much (pitta’s be warned). During the last few minutes I also opened the door a few times. During my time in the sauna I focused on relaxing my body by leaning back (do the roc-away) and taking deep breaths. I tried to release tension in my body by imagining those areas relaxing and bringing fluidity into them. At one point I attempted alternate nostril breathing but I started to get angry so I stopped and returned to my normal breath.
After my time was up, my skin was angel soft (ya heard). I also felt calmer and less rushed. There was a steam room that I hopped into for a minute, only because it was infused with eucalyptus oil which I thought was a brilliant way to cool down and bring moisture back into the body. I was careful not to wipe any of the sweat back into my system and instead hopped in a lukewarm shower. My mouth had a metal taste in it meaning I released some serious toxins, which was pretty exciting. I made a mental note to pack my tongue scraper and toothbrush next time. My only other wish was that I could do this once a week.
As for the doshas, saunas are typically best suited for Kapha types and Kapha conditions such as phlegmatic conditions, arthritis or increase in weight. But there is a time and place for Vata and Pitta types to use these treatments as a form of invigoration. The best time to use the infrared sauna is the early morning. I would avoid saunas if you are on or soon to be on your ladies holiday or pregnant.
For the Vata dosha it can be beneficial if you suffer from stiffness of joints, body aches, lack of digestive fire and arthritis. While it is good because it increases heat in the body and Vata’s typically are cold, it can also be very drying. If you are a Vata I would recommend being well hydrated. A quick steam after can add a little moisture back into the body and I’d recommend some cooked veggies with ghee as a post meal.
For Pitta conditions such as headaches, excess bodily oils, indigestion, nervous tension and body aches it can be of aid as long as they are mild conditions only. I would step out every 10 minutes to put inflammation at bay. Avoid any use of saunas in the summer and if any serious Pitta conditions exist.
For all doshas, post sauna take a lukewarm shower or bath and relax for about 15 minutes.
Have you ever used an infrared sauna? Did you feel it was any different then a regular sauna?