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The first time - authentic Finnish sauna

This is my little story about the first time: Sauna! About what it's like to have a sauna in Germany and Finland and what sauna has to do with overcoming fears and shame. And you can read here how sauna is related to the feeling of beauty, freedom and bliss.


In harmony with nature, close to the elements, that is part of the Finnish sauna tradition.


Sauna 1.0: The first time

I tried to throw fears overboard, because after all, like real grown women, we wanted to find beauty and relaxation in the sauna.

Sitting naked in a room with strangers used to fill me with fear and shame. Undressing in front of others was unthinkable for me. As a teenager I always had something to complain about about my body, nothing was right, everything was bulky and unsatisfactory. When a friend then made the suggestion to have a nice "wellness evening" in the sauna, curiosity was great, I tried to throw my fears overboard, because after all, like real grown-up women, we wanted to find beauty and relaxation in the sauna . After studying the German sauna rules, we took a shower and then went into the sauna. Wrapped in a towel, I sat stock still in a small, dark room, trying to move as little as possible. Just don't attract attention, I thought and kept feeling the unpleasant looks of the others. After fifteen minutes we left the sauna and took a shower. Then the rule says you should rest for 30 minutes and then go back to the sauna for fifteen minutes, shower, rest, and so on. Three to four sauna sessions are required. Sometimes a sauna master comes and makes an infusion and waves the towel. But that's more for advanced sauna-goers, not for beginners, the others told me. When we left after four sauna sessions, I felt neither relaxed nor beautiful.


My first sauna experience in Germany was a flop. That was no fun. Lots of regulations to be followed and sitting naked for fifteen minutes in a dry room with strangers, silent people, wasn't particularly pleasant. So it happened that I didn't go to the sauna for many, many years.


Löyly [Finn. f. infusion]. Löyly is an old word and can be translated as soul.


And then I met Sami. When he told me at the second meeting that he was Finnish, I was shocked. Oh no, what if he asks me to go to the sauna together? After all, the Finns are known for their passion for saunas. And that's how it happened. The first time I could find an excuse why I can't go to the sauna right now. Because the memories of my first visit to the sauna were anything but pleasant.


Update Sauna 1.1: The second first time


Three months and nine days later I found myself in a small lakeside sauna in Finland, near Ähtäri. We were vacationing with Sami's relatives at Mökki and now there was no turning back. Sami heated up the sauna.


After cooling off in the lake or river, you can quickly go back in.


My first sauna time: Sami taught me how to tie a vihta before my first Finnish sauna session. This is a Finnish bundle of birch twigs that is heated on the stones of the sauna stove so that the saponins and essential oils in the birch leaves can unfold. Then you whip yourself with it in short, powerful strokes, which cleanses the skin and deeply relaxes the muscles. For our first sauna session we took a cool Finnish Karhu (bear) beer into the sauna, talked, drank and made a "Löyly" - an infusion. I will never forget this infusion. A really hot steam filled the sauna, gripping my skin, my muscles and penetrating deep into my body. I could hardly breathe from the heat. The blood was pounding and sweat covered every inch of my body. After a second “Löyly”, I ran out of the sauna and jumped into the cold lake, steaming. Adrenaline and endorphins animated my body in an unusual way. I lay on the water and floated, filled with bliss. Completely intoxicated, I went back to the sauna. Sami heated the vihta on the sauna stones and we whipped each other - what a joy! Like little children we giggled and laughed and enjoyed the slaps on the skin. We did what we enjoyed. With no rules, no regulations, no fears, we were free and happy. We wrapped a sauna makkara (sauna sausage) in aluminum foil and placed it on the hot sauna stones. Later we ate them with rye bread and mustard for a midnight meal. Our sauna sessions never ended. It was still as bright in the middle of the night as it was during the day.


"Women are most beautiful after the sauna" says a Finnish proverb.

Your own sauna is the most beautiful: Real Finnish sauna in Lapland.


Dare you!


For me, both first times in the sauna meant mustering up the courage to do something that felt strange and uncomfortable at first. Ultimately, doing so was incredibly liberating. I felt incredibly happy and strong after my first time in a Finnish sauna. I grew beyond my limits and dared to do it again. It was an experience that has stayed with me to this day: overcoming fears, crossing the limits you set yourself, trying things again and seeing what happens. And once this limit has been overcome, you create completely different challenges. For me, there were two “first time” saunas. I was able to have two very different experiences and I am happy to have overcome my fears the second time, because otherwise I would have really missed something! Today you can meet me in the sauna several times a week and I have not only turned my newly discovered passion into my job; no, sauna is also a way of life that I have carried with me ever since.



 

Tips


Sauna health

Sauna calms and relaxes tired muscles, relieves stress and physical and mental exhaustion, stimulates blood circulation, lowers blood pressure, ensures restful and deep sleep, naturally strengthens the immune system through the formation of interferon, among other things, and ensures clean and healthy skin. Is not that great!


Other websites

On the Visit Finland site you will find 10 basics for the most Finnish of all Finnish experiences - sauna.


A nice and informative page with many blog posts about Finnish sauna culture can be found under World of Sauna.


 



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