Russian Banya

Many know that Sauna (Russians call it "Banya") has a positive effect on skin and overall health. Experienced banya attendants suggest using scrub or any exfoliator while skin is still steamed and pores are opened. After the scrub, it's recommended to use any moisturizing mask. In this case, nutrients will penetrate deeply into the skin.

How to get steamed in Banya? The Russian way.

First of all, rinse off in a shower and get into a steam room. Do not forget to use a wool hat to cover your hair (or use small towel alternatively) because strong heat can damage your hair and make it brittle.

While in a steam room, you need to breathe through the nose, not mouth. For beginners it is best to first lay on the middle shelf, so your head and legs are on the same level. This is the best practice for your heart.

Medicinal properties of steam can be improved by using different essential oils (mint, eucalyptus, pine needles, lavender, etc.), also you can dilute various sauna infusions, tinctures, herbs decoctions in water and pour it to hot stones. If you are in public Banya, please make sure it's allowed to bring and use you your own aromas.

To accelerate sauna's effect you may consider using a bath whisk. It can be made of oak, birch, eucalyptus or other trees. Choose the one you like most.
Birch whisk for Banya

Russians have different methods of using it:

  • Opachivanie (fan): when you slightly wave broom, not touching the body and "walk" along the body from head to toe;
  • Poglajivanie (stroke): slowly draw broom across the body from head to toe and back (several times on both sides);
  • Potryaxivanie (shaking): If you need to warm up the bod, periodically lift the broom up where the air above, and shake it, then hot broom is pressed for 2-3 seconds to the lower back, shoulder, feet and knee joints.
  • Pohlestyvanie: light gliding strokes with a broom, first in the front position, then - on the back, then - again on stomach;
  • Rastiranie (rubbing): usually done when doing a last call to the steam room and after pohlestyvanie, take a broom handle, and the other hand of the broom press down to the body, rub the body with strokes and circular motions, get up slowly and carefully to avoid dizziness;
When you come out of the steam room, do not rest immediately  It's best to walk for about 2-3 min doing breathing exercises. After that, rinse yourself with warm water and you will be ready to get back to the steam room again if you wish.

When you are not in a steam room, it's advisable to relax and drink slowly herbal tea, water or juice.

It's NOT recommended to drink alcohol while in Banya because it can expend your blood vessels. In spite of this, you will see that may Russians do that and it's not a good example of how to use Banya properly:)

*Sauna/Banya contraindications: cold & flu with fever, thrombophlebitis, severe disorders the autonomic nervous system, malignant tumors, people with heart problems should be very careful in sauna due to sharp temperature drop; skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, skin cancer, lupus; STDs, and some others. If you are not sure if you're allowed to use the sauna, ask your doctor.

*For reference only. This is not a medical advice.

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