We all know the feeling of long, stressful days. Those days when you just need to sweat it out.
That could mean going for a run, lifting weights, cycling, or using a sauna.
Saunas are a great way to sweat your stresses away without the physical toll on your body and injury risk associated with running or weightlifting.
I often use one in the evenings to decompress from my day.
Even though you’ll feel relaxed after, just sitting in a sauna can be intense. You will have this disphoric feeling towards the end of your session.
Sweat will be dripping down your face, in the last few minutes of your session.
Your heart beats faster.
You think “I can get out now. I’ve been here long enough.”
But you stay in a few more minutes. You have more left in the tank.
By the time you get out, you’ll feel like you float like a feather.
It’s like exercise. It may be hard in the moment, but leave you feeling much better.
So what do you do in a sauna for a great experience? How do you manage your time inside a sauna?
Let’s specifically focus on the time you are inside a sauna. This applies to infrared and traditional saunas, whether they are public or private.
Sit or lie down
Saunas have 2 or 3 rows of benches inside.
Sit on the top bench because hot air rises. The bottom bench is not as hot.
Always sit or lie on a towel for sanitary reasons.
You can sit upright or lie down. Lying down elevates your feet. This heats your leg muscles more because they are higher up, where the air is hotter.
I make sure to get my legs up on the top bench after working out my legs, or if they are sore.
Don’t lie down and take up the full bench if you are in a public sauna, unless nobody else is in it or there is plenty of room.
Meditate inside a sauna
Meditation and exercise are the two best ways to decompress from the day. So combine them.
You’ve heard about meditating unless you’ve been living under a rock.
It’s become very popular now because of the constant stress we are under 24-7. New advancements in technology and research on the effects of meditation, combined with excellent marketing, have brought it to popularity.
We all know the benefits.
Meditating helps with better focus, cognition, memory, empathy, sleep, better sex, and improved ability to handle stress, fear, and anxieties, among other benefits.
But most people love to decide they can’t meditate.
“I can’t sit still for 5 minutes.” “I don’t have time to meditate”. “I don’t know what to do.”
You have no excuse, especially now that you are sitting in a sauna for at least 20 minutes.
I found that meditating is the best way to handle the heat.
Before the euphoric runners-high feeling when finished, you go through dysphoria when you’ve been in the sauna for a while and it’s the last few minutes before you’re done.
This is when it gets hard.
Meditating helps focus on your breath.
It’s very helpful to calm that voice in your head telling you to get out. Bring your focus back to your breath, instead of focusing on how hot it is.
Joe Rogan said how much deep breathing gives him a euphoric feeling. His voice in his head tells him to get out. But deep breathing techniques allow him to relax and stay in longer.
The body scan is a common meditation technique. It brings awareness to certain parts of your body that you don’t notice during the day.
Relax the tension in your face, right now. Focus on the areas around your eyes and your jaw. We normally hold a lot of tension here.
People constantly hold tension in their bodies. Common areas are in your face, shoulders, neck, and shallow breathing.
By bringing awareness to these areas, you are releasing tension.
Can you socialize inside a sauna?
Socializing is another key component of the sauna experience. This can be done in a public sauna as well as a private sauna.
I’ve met many people in public saunas. Most people are pretty quiet; however, people are often willing to chat.
Sauna has always been a communal experience. People have gone with friends and family forever.
Going together as a family or friends is a great activity, and very common in Europe.
We’ve stayed at a number of mountain resorts. They’ve had private saunas where we all packed in and hung out. We got to learn more about each other, share laughs and enjoy the experience.
Everybody is equal in the sauna. We are just human bodies sweating it out. None of us have fancier clothes, fancier jobs, or whatever.
It’s easy to develop a relationship with the people you regularly see inside the sauna.
You can also meet new people, as long as they are willing to talk.
You want to be mindful of others, and not be loud and disturb them.
It’s been more recently with headphones that people usually stick to themselves.
Listen to Audible, a podcast, or music
Many people love podcasts, audiobooks, and music; but don’t have time during the day to listen. A 20+ minute sauna session is a great time to catch up.
You should leave your phone outside of the sauna because it will eventually overheat. AirPods work in the sauna to listen via Bluetooth.
If you are one of those people who will bring your phone into a sauna regardless, you can wrap it up in a towel to keep the heat away as long as possible.
Some people have speakers in their sauna. A private sauna with a group of close friends and family is a fun environment to play some music.
One problem with this in public saunas is that people inevitably are rude, or have completely no awareness of other people.
People will play their music, podcast, or scroll through Tik-Tok with their phone on speaker. Therefore everyone in the sauna has to listen to everything on that phone.
This is the pinnacle of being clueless about other people.
Don’t be that person.
Like with Audible, a lot of people don’t have time to read during the day.
I’ve even seen some people bring books and magazines into the sauna.
You can even bring in a kindle or iPad, but understand it will eventually overheat. Physical books are better.
Just as long as you don’t mind dripping sweat on your book or your hands being sweaty.
I’ve never read a book in a sauna. I imagine that it may be hard to concentrate when the going gets tough towards the end of your session.
Ben Greenfield reads in his sauna, so it can be done.
Hopefully, this answered the common question of what you actually do in a sauna.
You can just relax, meditate, chat, listen to or read a book.