Photo courtesy of Little Box Sauna
The interior of a sauna
If you’ve seen people around the Twin Cities this winter wearing nothing more than a swimsuit, Little Box Sauna is likely why. A collab between Molly Reichert and Andrea Johnson, the mobile hot spot’s been popping up in different parts of town and inviting locals in for a solid sweat sesh. But while the ancient custom of sauna itself is nothing new—especially among Minnesota’s most stringently Scandinavian—we’ve been slow to fully embrace the tradition, and maybe that’s because, well, we’re not really sure how to do it. We are modest Minnesotans, after all, and saunas put us up close and personal with rooms full of sweaty, unclothed others. In order to put your mind at ease about how exactly to sauna, we asked some local steam-scene thought leaders about proper sauna etiquette.
Keep talking to a minimum
“If there is silence, respect the silence,” says Glenn Auerbach, founder of The Sauna Times blog. “It’s a very spiritual thing; it’s a place for introspection.”
Don’t splash water on the coals
There are two ways to add water—which increases the heat sensation—to the coals: “soft and softer,” says Auerbach. But don’t do so until you get the permission of everyone in the sauna, our gurus agree.
“There’s a debate about clothed versus nude saunas,” says Reichert. “The detergent we use to wash clothes might taint the sauna experience.” Stateside, it’s best to wear a swimsuit.
Sauna is not a contest
“It’s a chance to tune in and listen to your body,” says 612 Sauna Society founder John Pederson. “If your body is telling you you’re too hot, then it’s time for a cool-down round.”
“Saunassa ollaan kuin kirkossa”
When in doubt, refer to this Finnish saying that roughly translates to “behave in a sauna as you would in a church.”
Think the gym is the only place to take a sauna? Here are three cooler ways to incorporate sauna into your life.
612 Sauna Society:
Join this local group with nearly 1,000 members to learn more about and build awareness for sauna culture. 612saunasociety.com
Little Box Sauna:
If you can get past the idea of sweating with a bunch of strangers, it’s a great way to see if sauna’s for you. littleboxsauna.wordpress.com
Hooked on sauna? Snag one of your own. Rozycki Woodworks in Royalton makes some that look like whiskey barrels. rwsaunas.com