Hi friends! Thanks for checking in today at The Sensitive Soul Blog, I really appreciate it! As I continue to heal my body and detox all the “nasties” out of me, I have gotten turned on to infrared saunas.
As you may know, sweating is an amazing and natural way for our bodies to release toxins. Given the fact that my body is seemingly packed with various unwanted toxins (aka: environmental grossness) and my energy levels have been so low that vigorous exercise is out of the question for the time being, I have tapped into the healing powers of infrared saunas.
If you haven’t heard of infrared saunas before, let me give you a brief rundown of how they’re slightly different than other saunas. In an infrared sauna, it uses light to generate the heat. The heat waves penetrate our bodies and heat us up.
Typically these saunas get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit whereas traditional saunas heat the air around you at a higher temperature to bring your body temperature up.
I’ve been using both types of saunas, but I have to say, I feel more comfortable at the lower heat levels and I feel like I am getting a deep detoxification. You can read more about my sauna experience below.
Benefits of Infrared Saunas
- Detoxification: Our skin is the body’s largest organ and one thing it’s great at is helping our body detox through sweating! Compared to dry heat saunas, infrared saunas allow our bodies to eliminate 7x more toxins!
- Pain Relief: I have needed this one! My joints have been so achy and sore, but the soreness has definitely lessened since using the sauna. Infrared can relieve inflammation and relax our muscles while increasing circulation.
- Improved Circulation: I typically have cold hands and cold feet (my husband can attest to that!) so the sauna feels so great. Within ten minutes in the sauna, my hands and feet are flooded with better circulation. The heat of the sauna increases body temperature and circulation increases as well. For those who have muscle pain, soreness, or fatigue from intense workouts, this would be perfect for your recovery! Also, as your circulation improves, blood pressure does too! Score!!
- Relaxation: One thing is for sure, both during and after a sauna session, I feel relaxed. Believe it or not, the infrared light and heat help balance cortisol levels (the infamous stress hormone) in our bodies inducing a more relaxed state. The heat naturally relieves muscle tension.
- Weight Loss: While I’m not using the sauna for this purpose, it’s a nice benefit for those who want to lose a little weight. The heat causes the body’s heart rate to increase just as if you were exercising. As your body attempts to lower its core temperature, it burns calories, hence the weight loss. Just remember to rehydrate!
- Skin Purification: People often experience better-looking, clearer skin after using the infrared sauna due to eliminating toxins and increased circulation.
- Improved Cell Health: As circulation improves and cells are oxygenated, toxins flow from the cellular level and out of the body through the skin, ultimately improving cell health. As cell health improves, muscle recovery is aided as well as your immune system. For those reasons alone, I’m all about the sauna!
My First Infrared Sauna Experience
So, I have used traditional saunas at my local gyms for many, many years usually after a workout but never for healing purposes. I never really thought of it as a “healing tool”, but more of a way to relax and get an extra sweat sesh.
In fact, years ago, my friend and I would make “sauna dates” and that’s where we’d catch up with each others’ lives while reaping the benefits of the steamy, hot sauna!
Fast forward to now. My reason for visiting the sauna is much different. Now, I am much more aware of the healing qualities it provides and my functional medicine doctor recommended that I try it if I had one accessible to me. If not, he recommended I still use a traditional sauna at least 3x/week to help remove the toxins residing in my cells.
So, I did a quick Google search hoping I would find a spa or treatment center near me that offered sauna sessions for a reasonable price. I don’t have tons of money to be tossing around, but my health means EVERYTHING to me right now (and it always should…).
To my amazement, there was a spa in the town right next to me that offered infrared saunas for a very reasonable price. One hour sessions cost no more than if I were walking into a yoga class. Better yet, there was a discount if I bought the bundle of 10 sessions, so I hopped on the phone and scheduled my first visit.
I was so curious about how my body would feel sitting in a “hot box” for 30 minutes. The recommended time for first-timers is 30 minutes, so I cautiously set the timer for that amount. Would I feel faint due to the heat? Would I be bored? Would I hear my heart pounding through my chest? Would I be able to withstand 30 minutes?
My head swirled with questions, doubts, and insecurities due to the unknown. So, here is the low down. The room was adorned with water to drink, towels, and a full length sheet that I was given to drape around myself. And while it’s not mandatory, I decided to undress fully to let my body sweat without restriction. Plus, I hate the feeling of drenched wet clothes against my skin, so going au natural seemed like the best fit for me. Ya know what I mean?
So, I wrapped the sheet around me and made my way into the dimly lit sauna. The space was certainly small, only a tiny bench to sit on. The glass door helped me not feel claustrophobic, which I greatly appreciated given the tiny space and the hot heat. The spa had soft music playing, which was a nice way to feel like I was doing something special for myself.
To combat boredom, the bonus of an infrared sauna versus a traditional sauna is that it will not harm electronics, so I bought my phone in with me. I used the time to listen to podcasts, catch up on neglected emails, and read the news. When else do I have time in my day to do those things? The answer is hardly EVER! This was awesome!
Around the 20 minute mark, I felt my body heating up. I felt anxious knowing that I only had 10 minutes left in my session and my body was just starting to sweat. Drip. Drop. Drip. Sweat started pouring out of my pores giving me a euphoric feeling of pleasure. Ding! Time was up! What? No! I wanted more time!
I peeked my head out of the treatment room and requested an additional 30 minutes to complete my first one hour session. 30 minutes was simply too short.
By the time everything was finished, my body was thoroughly drenched. I drank two full bottles of water on the spot to replenish the water I had lost. I was feeling good but tired. My body was clearly doing work! All in all, I loved the experience and couldn’t wait to book my next session.
My intention is to do two infrared sessions each week, if my schedule permits. While I write this, I have completed three sessions thus far. After my first two, my body felt extremely tired in the hours and days following. It had me a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to handle more than one session per week, but I wanted to keep it up to see how I felt.
After the third session, I have noticed a considerable lessening of joint soreness! I will take it! Achy joints have been a daily struggle for me over the past several months and so to have any sense of relief from this pain is a welcomed experience. Also, after the third session, I didn’t have the total drop in energy for the rest of the day which was a marked difference.
Could it really be helping me heal? I’m inclined to say yes, but I will keep you posted as I continue to sweat it out to see if symptoms continue to improve.
As with any healing journey, there will be good days and there will be bad days (just like Intention #2). I am learning to accept the easy along with the hard. I am trusting that my Higher Power is steering me in the right direction for what my body needs.
I’m thankful for this journey because it has opened my eyes to new holistic “tools”, like infrared saunas, available for health and healing.
If you’re on the fence about trying an infrared sauna, I would absolutely recommend it. If you’re nervous yet curious the way I was, try it out for a short amount of time and see how you do. Bring water with you (not in a plastic bottle), some entertainment if you want to be occupied, or a good book to read.
Trust me, the time will go by quickly and I’m pretty sure, you’ll be hooked just like me. Happy sweating!
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