This Russian tradition of steaming in a “wooden house” dates back to medieval times. Going to a banya was almost considered necessary because people believed that steaming the body would purge any toxins and cure illnesses. The bathhouse also served as a place for delivering babies and for pre-marriage rituals. It was believed that the bride had to endure forty days of bathing rituals in order to be purified for giving birth and to avoid a lot of bleeding. When it came to the bride’s wedding, she was washed by her maids in the banya on the eve of the wedding, which ensured her purity. People of all classes participated in such rituals–the peasants, provincial nobility, as well as the court. Although in the past three hundred years these rituals slowly died out, the banya still remains a popular place, mainly due to its numerous health benefits.
It is well known that over 75% of our bodies are made of water. Ever heard that sweating is good for you? Well it’s no joke. “Health through water” is one of the most famous health concepts out there due to the many health benefits of it. Some of the health benefits of using a sauna include:
- Detoxification–living in NY, we are exposed to a variety of chemicals and pollutants that attack our bodies daily. Spending time in the banya will increase your body’s blood circulation, which will help to detoxify hard areas such as bone, sinuses, and teeth. In addition, the steam will help open your pores, thus, helping to clear your skin of toxins as well.
- Weight Loss–have you ever seen saunas in a fitness club? They are there for an important reason. A session in the sauna helps burn up to 250 calories (could be more, depending on how much time is spent steaming), which is similar to a mild workout. That’s 250 extra calories that you can spend on a tiny piece of double chocolate cake. Mmmm.
- Relaxation–can’t forget about this one! With all the stress in your life, it would definitely be a good idea to give yourself a break. All the aches and pains you suffer from are simply balls of stress stuck inside of you with no way to get out. When you are in a banya, your entire body is relaxed. The high humidity in combination with the heat will ease your muscles, making you feel like putty–but in a good way.
- Improved Immune System–the winter time is not only a great time of holiday cheer, it is also a time for colds and flus. One great way to avoid that is to spend some time in a banya. The steam and heat work together to create what feels like a simulated fever to your body. Thus, your immune system will shift gears and illnesses will occur less frequently if at all.
So join this old Russian tradition and see for yourself how your body transforms!