The sauna is most often identified with Finland, where the hot, steamy and relaxing ritual originated. The bathing practice is believed to be good for the circulation and for opening the pores for a deep cleansing.
Since saunas can be placed in relatively small spaces in the bathroom, even in a bathroom closet, they are gaining popularity in this country as part of the at-home personal spa experience. Traditional saunas, entered right after showering, use stones on a heater to create the steam, which is accomplished when water is thrown over them to increase humidity. Modern versions of saunas sometimes have limestone panels instead of stones.
The faint lighting inside the wooden sauna adds to the calming effect as the bathers relax on wooden benches, sitting high up in the sauna to better take in the hotter air. After resting in the sauna, many people then take a second, cooler shower (in Finland it’s often taken in an icy river) and return to the sauna for another period of relaxation and warmth.
For the modern home, saunas can be purchased in ready-to-assemble form, or may be custom-built and installed to suit your particular desires and space considerations. There are also suppliers for authentic sauna accessories such as scents, soaps and large, thick towels to sit on and warm yourself in after unwinding in a relaxing sauna.