In the maddening rush of our modern world, stress is the enemy. Too much of it can wreak havoc on our bodies, and in some cases, even send you to an early grave. And as we age, life becomes more hectic, responsibilities heavier, and high-level stress more dangerous. It’s no wonder then that people look for more ways to reduce stress.
The next big health fad on these shores may very well be one that has flourished for centuries: the sauna. This type of steam bath traces its roots to the Finnish tradition of using heated water in an enclosed space to heal and refresh the body. In this culture, the sauna figures greatly in the practice of traditional medicine, as well as being a sacred social venue—it was where children were birthed, the dead prepared for burial, and where families and communities congregated. The modern sauna has also been influenced by the bathing practices of other cultures, such as the Turkish hammam, the Japanese sento, and the Korean jimjilbang.
Where to go for relaxation and more
The enduring appeal of the sauna lies in its perceived health benefits. It has long been believed, across cultures, that steam draws away toxins from the body, curing it of illness and fatigue. Steam does bring immediate relief to sufferers of certain conditions—it clears the air passages of those with colds or allergies. The heat in sauna rooms also relieves muscle pain and alleviates the persistent and intense pain of arthritis by increasing blood circulation and relaxing the muscles. The sauna is also frequented by those who seek clearer skin. Steam opens up the pores, sweat rids them of dirt and impurities, and humidity infuses the skin with moisture.
You don’t have to fly all the way to Korea or Japan to enjoy the sauna—Manila has a multitude of reputable steam baths. Many spas and health clubs feature sauna rooms, usually the traditional type made of wood, where one can control the level of steam and degree of heat.
City Lifestyle and Spa, on Tomas Morato, Quezon City, is a large health center where you can use the sauna room free of charge when you avail of a massage service. Also in the area is Wensha, which styles itself after the jimjilbang—where you can enjoy delicious shabu-shabu along with your steam bath.
If you haven’t tried going to the sauna, now is a good time as any. Self-pampering would be the least of your reasons, and well-being, the greatest.