The use of the term ” Sauna ” as it has been referred in most of North America has truly been abused and over-used to such an extent that it has lost its true meaning. When a person mentions the word ” sauna ” in North America, visions of seedy bathhouses and steam rooms come to mind. The home sauna is in most instances a pleasant enough enclosure heated by various devices that range from electric sauna heaters to far infrared units. These saunas are what have interestingly enough been called a ” dry sauna “. There is no steam .The one thing these home saunas have in common with a traditional Finnish sauna is the generated heat because there really is no such thing as a dry sauna.
The true ” sauna ” has lasted for well over a thousand years. It has been tweaked and minutely altered over all those years but in its true essence, very little has actually been changed. Any changes that have occurred have been mostly health improvements like better ventilation and heating units. The form and function of a traditional Finnish sauna remain intact.
Another term that has taken a pounding in North America is the ” sauna session ” or ” sauna ritual “. A sauna session has come to mean nothing more than a naked or semi-naked individual or individuals sitting in a nice wooden cubicle and just plain sweating. This of course is followed by the occasional dip in the pool or a nice invigorating shower. Although this is so-called sauna session is better than no session at all (at least you clean out and purify your skin pores a little), it is hardly worthy of the term.
The original Finnish sauna incorporates several elements that make up the actual sauna session or sauna ritual. The primary difference between the Finns and most North Americans is the abundance of time that they lavish on the experience. In a Finnish sauna, time is not of the essence. The pleasure of the ever-evolving moment is.
The different elements of the true sauna are the Preparation, Perspiration, Lowly (does not quite translate the right characters here, but it means the hot steam of the sauna), Whisking, Cooling, Washing and finally, Relaxation. There is no schedule or timetable whatsoever and a watch is definitely an optional attachment. Plenty of time is allotted for a true sauna session and many of the actual elements are repeated more than once.
The sauna was introduced to North America in the 1960