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Sauna bathing plays a big part in Scandinavian cultures, especially with the Finnish. For centuries, the spa has been a place for physical and spiritual cleansing and for many, going too long without visiting a spa would leave them feeling incomplete. Understandably in the Mediterranean it is a little bit different, but we can learn a lot from the Nordic approach to saunas and sweating.

To Sweat or Not to Sweat?

The first things that come to mind when one talks about sweating are not too pleasant. Most of us feel embarrassed, unclean and generally uncomfortable. So the question is: to sweat or not to sweat? The wiser option would actually be the first one. Why? Well firstly because it is natural but also because sweating has so many benefits. Forget all those ads of non-perspiring ladies on Women’s Fitness magazines. The fact is, you need to sweat to feel and be in good health. Getting rid of all those bad toxins that you accumulate during the day is super important. The skin gets cleared and you can say goodbye to pimples and blemishes. If you suffer from mood swings, sweating it out could be the best option. The more you sweat, the more you produce feel-good hormones, endorphins.

Exercise also builds up a lot of waste in your muscles and joints, which can be carried by the blood to the surface of your skin and eliminated. So if you’ve just been to the gym next door, there is no better time to jump into the sauna. The blood vessels closest to the surface of the skin dilate, increasing the volume of blood. This causes your blood pressure to drop, which stimulates your heart to beat faster and more efficiently. This heart rate is similar to mild cardiovascular exercise (such as when you press ‘cool down’ on your treadmill). The only difference is that you are just sitting in a room, earning the relaxing benefits through the heat whilst speeding up the body’s natural healing processes.

Almost identically to the sauna, a steam room opens up pores and cleanses the skin. The only difference is that a sauna creates dry heat while a steam room generates moist heat. The latter makes it easier for your skin to get rid of toxins, clearing any sinus irritations as well as clearing the lungs, throat and chest from that extra flem. Steam rooms are great for people with respiratory problems, making everything easier to clear with a humidity level of 100%.

Just as relaxed and warm as you might feel after the sauna or steam room, don’t skip the thermal hot to cold shower! Alternating thermal showers and ice chip bathing are available at Sanya. These leave you feeling seriously invigorated and energized. This in and out circulation of the blood is very beneficial for assisting detoxification. It also boosts your immune system, increasing your metabolic rate and hydrating the cells leaving your skin looking radiant.

Whilst sauna & steam room bathing are undoubtedly a key component of detoxification on a physical level, they also have benefits for our mental and emotional states. The physical benefits to our major organs, especially the kidneys, liver and heart help promote emotional balance and harmony. Often the physical detoxification and renewal translate into more subtle levels leaving us feeling emotionally renewed and ready to face life’s challenges.

The winter season in Malta is a short one, so enjoy feeling the heat whilst it is still an option