Saunas have long been recognized as a way for users to boost their health and well-being. The dry, high heat of saunas keep your body’s thermoregulatory processes into gear. As your body attempts to regulate its core temperature, your circulation increases, your heart rate rises, more blood is sent to your skin, and you begin to sweat. This physical process starts automatically. While these physical aspects occur, you can work on calming your mind through meditation as well to get even more benefits from your time in the sauna.
Meditating and sauna use both offer incredible health benefits, and combining them can be a very efficient use of your time. To meditate in a sauna, simply bring your normal meditative practices into the sauna room with you or, if you’re new to meditating, review a simple breathwork or bodyscan technique outside the sauna, then bring it in.
Meditating in a sauna is a fantastic way to reduce stress. Coupled with the physical stress-reducing benefits of pain relief and reduced inflammation, meditation provides mental stress relief. Reducing physical and psychological stress simultaneously results in a great net effect of using your time this way. While we don’t have ways to medically measure how relaxed a person is, it stands to reason that combining these mindfulness and physical practices together can give you more benefits than using either one individually.
What are the Benefits of Meditating in a Sauna?
Saunas have many physical health benefits in their own right: increased cardiovascular health, reduced inflammation, and prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If you couple your sauna sessions with meditation practices, you can reap even more positive outcomes. Like sauna use, meditation comes with an impressive suite of positive health effects including:
- Reduction of anxiety
- Improvements of the immune system
- Increase in serotonin production
- Better concentration and focus
- Improvement of exercise tolerance
- Decreased muscle tension
- Decrease of breathing rate
And this isn’t all just hearsay. Scientific studies such as this one show that meditation lowers anxiety, depression, pain, and other ailments in a measurable, provable way. As you can see, mediating in a sauna can have compounding effects on your health and well-being. If you’ve never meditated before, you might practice meditation at home first before bringing it into the sauna. Learn how to meditate first, then add it to your sauna sessions.
Sauna Meditation Steps
Meditating in a sauna is relatively easy to accomplish. The intense heat of a sauna prompts your body to enter a more relaxed state. Relaxation, in turn, provides a sense of calmness. To begin meditating in a sauna, you should follow these easy steps:
- Heat the sauna to at least 120°F (49°C) or higher if you’re comfortable with it.
- If the sauna has speakers, play some soothing music. But not distracting music, also be mindful of other guests if you’re using a public sauna and avoid using AirPods and other electronics like we advised in our other article.
- Find a comfortable seat and sit with your back against a wall.
- Place your hands in a comfortable position on your lap.
- Take in the heat for a few minutes, relax, and close your eyes.
- Start paying attention to your breath, and ease into any meditation practice your familiar with, whether it’s around breathing, a bodycan, or some other mental focusing practice.
While this articles isn’t focused on teaching you how to meditate, for a beginner there are some great tips on getting started. As you enter a deeper state of relaxation, slow your breath and let all of your worries escape your mind. Focus on the now and where you are, and the sensations you’re experiencing. Some users find that counting down from a certain number helps them focus, while others may like to visualize a relaxing setting like a beach or some other popular vacation destination.
Mediation Aids in Saunas
Some people can easily meditate even when many distractions surround them. Others have difficulty meditating, even in the quietest places. If you sound like the latter, you may benefit from mediation aids. The top mediation aids in saunas follows:
- Aromas– Special smells can stimulate relaxation aiding in meditation. If you’re in a sauna that you can add aromas too, you can sprinkle herbs such as sage onto the sauna rocks. Additionally, you can add essential oils into the sauna water before pouring over the hot sauna rocks. Lavender is a top essential oil choice to promote relaxation. Although aromas are a useful way to help with meditation, they are not for everyone. If you’re in a public sauna, ask the other visitors if they’re okay with it first.
- Comfort– A big part of meditating is getting comfortable. You should make sure to wear clothing that you’re comfortable in. Loose cotton clothes or cotton towels or robes work best. Tight-fitting, synthetic garments should be avoided in saunas. Also, bring an extra cotton towel or two to sit on if you find the wooden bench too hard.
- Music– Many modern saunas have built-in speakers with audio connections outside of them. You can play soothing classical music or sounds, white noise, or calming sounds like running water in the sauna. There are many apps available with free meditation sounds. Again, if you’re in a public sauna, make sure the other guests are okay with your music.
Create Your Own Sauna Meditation Ritual
Visiting a sauna and mediating should be a fun and therapeutic experience. If you’re just starting with saunas, meditation, or both, it may be frustrating if you cannot clear your mind. However, if you keep practices and stay hydrated (to prevent headaches), it will get easier. Once you develop your own sauna-meditation ritual, you will be able to enter a meditative state with no time wasted at all. Additionally, make sure you understand the different types of saunas out there (our guide), that way you have the type you want and need.
Creating your own sauna meditation ritual is all about doing the the things that work for you, and building your own routine based on experience. If you do the same routine every time, your body and mind will be fully intuned when you enter the sauna which is ultimately what you’re after.