Healing Power of Saunas (5 in series of 5)

loyli, temaxcalli, inipi, sauna . . .

These are all words for the universal use of heat for ceremonial healing and cleansing: the steam that bursts forth when the water hits the rocks, the house of heat, the earth womb, to strengthen the WILL in a sacred way, the spirit…. These are all expressions of the sacred gift of heat and cold, of human homeostasis, and of community that rises from the rocks in the sacred sauna steam.

“Sweat bathing–be it in the form of the Finnish sauna, the Russian bania, the Turkish hamman, or an American Indian sweatlodge– is as common to the world as the baking of bread and the squeezing of the grape.” (Mikkel Aaland)

Pretty much every culture in the world used heat for cleansing and ceremony.

The word sauna means “spirit” and the Russians, Greeks, Japanese, Turks, Indians, Irish and Muslims all used the sweat bath. Traditionally heated by fire either through hot rocks or a wood burning stove, saunas use heat to cleanse and purify.  The Baths are a temple housing the purifying power of fire, cocooning the bathers and releasing them afterward transformed, reborn. The sauna, steambath and sweat are all our birth rite.

Like breathing and eating, sweating is essential to life.

Our heart contracts and expands, our lungs fill and empty, and our skin pulls in medicine and releases that which is unneeded. Through 15 minutes of sweating, the skin releases as much heavy metal as the kidney would take 24 hours to process! It’s no wonder that… “death by accumulated poisons occurs in a matter of hours if the skin, and its sweat passages, are smothered.” (Mikkel Aaland)

Sweat baths are used around the world for psycho-spiritual purification, physical resilience and detoxification as well as for fertility, pregnancy and especially postpartum healing.

Today our bodies are surrounded by more toxins than ever.

Yet, we inhibit our ability to fully utilize our largest detoxification organ. Our pores are clogged by antiperspirants, chemicals in our environment and synthetic clothing. With little daily physical exertion and climate controlled everything, the only place where sweat isn’t deemed improper is the gym.

More than ever, we need to claim our birth rite to sweat and the ancient sacred womb of the Sweat Bath is the perfect place to start!

A much more modern version of the sauna idea is the electric light near infrared lamp sauna.

John Harvey Kellogg, MD of Michigan is credited with its invention about 100 years ago.  The electric light bulb had just been invented by Thomas Edison.  Early units made use of 40 small regular bulbs.  It was found to remove toxins faster than the traditional saunas available.  However, it is not well known or understood well at all.

“Saunas can be of three basic types.  Convection saunas move hot air around the body.  Radiant saunas use heat rays generated by ceramic far infrared elements, electric light bulbs or by the sun.  Conduction saunas heat the body by direct contact with steam or hot sand.” (Larry Wilson)

Some holistic healthcare providers believe that because of the direct penetration of the skin by beneficial infrared waves, the newer saunas have a superior parasympathetic affect on the body to traditional convection sweat baths. Though this may be true, only you can choose the right kind of sweat for you.

“The sauna you will use the most is the best sauna.”

Factors to consider when choosing the sweat bath that is best for you include:

  • Temperature – Infrared saunas can operate and much lower temperatures – about 50′ lower than traditional sweat baths—with the same overall benefits. Some bathers find the lower temperature to be more comfortable and so can spend more time enjoying their sweat.
  • Humidity – Traditional saunas give a large range of variability to humidity. The bather can add a little, a lot or no moisture to the air by splashing water onto the heated rocks. This can add comfort, cleanse nasal passages and allow for aroma therapy by adding essential oils to the air. Infrared saunas do not offer this customization and tend to be on the drier side.
  • Size – Because of the need for the bather to be in close proximity to the infrared emitters, infrared saunas tend to be on the smaller side, housing one or two (rarely up to 3 or 4) bathers at a time. Traditional saunas, however, have no such size constraints and can house the whole family and even the neighbors! Because bath houses have always been a place for communal cleansing of body and spirit, we believe that the benefits of social bathing cannot be understated.


Jokaisen on kayttaydyttava saunaaa samalla tavalla kuin kirkossa.
In the sauna one must conduct himself as one would in church.
~ Finish Saying


Sources: Mikkel Aaland, Larry Wilson



You might be interested in our Seasonal Cleanse Kit:

Seasonal Cleanse Kit



  1. Elizabeth says:

    Krista, Is a really hot bath a good substitute if one doesn’t have access to a sauna?

    • krista says:

      Although soaking in a hot bath can be a great way to relax and has its own benefits, like inducing an artificial fever and stimulating the immune system (Stay Healthy with Steam Therapy it cannot replace the benefits of an authentic sweat bath. Because the skin is immersed in water, the body is not able to release sweat (and the toxins that accompany it) effectively.

  2. Gretchan says:

    How often do you recommend using the sauna? Are there any special protocols that you recommend as adjuncts while in sauna or after?

    • krista says:

      For general wellness and prevention, I recommend bathing twice weekly; however, during a cleanse, or if toxicity is particularly high, you can bathe up to twice daily. In our Nutritional Therapy program we use hair tissue analysis to assess toxicity levels. All practices described in our Cleanse Series as well as those provided in our Seasonal Cleanse Kit are compatible with sweat bathing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Instagram feels @tierrasoulvillagefarm