In Finland sauna is a national obsession. According to the data, there are now up to three million saunas in Finland, for the 5.5 million population available - that’s one sauna for every 1.8 people.
There are public saunas and private family saunas and each has its own unique etiquette, often with the rules or manners clearly signposted as you enter.
People eat, drink, hold business meetings and even traditionally gave birth inside the sanctity of the sauna. Sauna use in Finland is at times punctuated by a dip in a frozen lake and the gentle slap of a vasta/vihta (a bunch of tied birch twigs and leaves) to increase circulation. In Finland sauna is more than a few quiet moments in the heat, it has been elevated over the centuries to an art form and is considered a sacred space. The Finns have a saying: “Saunassa ollaan kuin kirkossa.” It translates, “One should behave in the sauna as you would in the church.”
For many in Australia the sauna experience is vastly different to that of Northern Europe. It is often seen here as an individual choice for people who add it to their health regime and to help with relaxation and stress reduction in their busy lives.
Some common guidelines will ensure you have a pleasant sauna experience:
Shower before and after your sauna session.
Enter and exit the room swiftly to avoid unnecessary heat loss. Never leave the door ajar.
Do not disturb other sauna users with loud noise or conversation.
Make sure you sit or lie on a towel to protect the sauna benches. Have another fresh towel outside the sauna to dry off with.
Stay well hydrated. Drink water before, during and after your sauna session.
Move to the higher benches to increase the heat benefit and let others who don't like it so hot occupy the lower seating.
Limit sauna sessions to 10-15 minutes at one time. Repeat as desired.
If feeling faint or unwell, immediately leave the sauna room and seek assistance if required.
Always respect other sauna users.