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Sauna de fum (Vantaa) Intermezzo in lacul inghetat Articole de sauna (magazin din Helsinki)

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Cold makes me cringe. Just as the thought of nervous wind whistling during January, when party season is over and the body remains drained of energy, abused by too much food and drink. You think of some way of purifying your flesh and refreshing your soul and luckily, if living in Finland, best solution lies under your nose: sauna. Of course, there are many ways in this world of sweating healthily and pleasantly. In case you want to know about some of these (in theory at least) you’d better leaf Mikkel Aaland’s book “Sweat”, a history of bathing and saunas. The most known were Roman baths, Russian bania, the Finnish sauna, the Islamic hammam, the Japanese mushi-buro, the Mexican temescal… The author tells us about all kind of uses and benefits of enjoying bathing and heat, also recommending how to build private spaces for sweating in a clean style. Not that we’d reject the old ways, when attending to a public bathing was considered a social event. You could hear a juicy gossip if being some Turkish harem girl, learn about forefathers if Indian, drink the warriors’ sweat in order to be stronger as men on Torres Straits island did or concoct Russian aphrodisiac potions from mixing vodka with the pure sweat of a future bride and beginning or ending your life in sauna, this hot church of cold Finnish lands, where women gave birth and old people went to die. The most amazing thing is that you can feel great in a sauna, either in frozen regions (after getting out of sauna the body gets warm) or tropical ones as well (body cools down). In Africa, people do mud bathing and sweat covered by hot sand. Japanese have other original ways of body cleansing, as hot grinded coffee beans. Learning that hot vapors help also cooling you off (and that’s the best experience of mine related to sauna’s consequences in feeling fresh) reduce the shock of finding out that “impure” liquids as urine were used by Esquimos instead of soap. At this point I declare I’ve had enough of history and other people’s habits, so for the moment I’m heading for the regular shower at most!



Copyright © Katiusha Cuculescu 2005