I have been using a sauna, off and on, for several years now. Outside of the common stereotypes of a sauna being healthy, I wanted to share the 5 benefits of using a sauna that I have personally experienced. So sit back, relax, and get ready to start being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
One of the first benefits of using a sauna that jumped out to me was how it helps you build mental strength. Sitting in a room, alone, at 200 degrees is bound to be uncomfortable. All while a door to freedom and comfort sits a few feet away. Sitting in there for 20 minutes is a serious grind and will really challenge you to the core of your being. However, I think this is an amazing opportunity for personal development.
How often in life do we struggle? Constantly! Life is a perpetual maze and really challenges you to dig deep and fight. Sitting in a sauna really puts that on display. In a sauna, you are fighting to your goal of 10, 15, or 20 minutes, with no breaks (if you do it right). Either you make it or you don’t. Rarely in life it is ever that cut and dry. During that grind you experience a plethora of feelings:
The list goes on and on. That urge to quit is something that one should really explore. See how long you can push the envelope. All you are doing is sitting there. What could possibly go wrong?
Now, I am not saying you should stay in there until you pass out. That feeling, since I have come close, is more of when you can hear the beat of your heart in your ears. You will also start to get this yucky achy feeling. Like you need to eat something. Even though you know that won’t help you. Most of the time, your mind panics due to the discomfort. However, it is when your body starts to panic that should concern you.
If you feel dizzy, get out. That is why you build up to 20 minutes at 200 degrees. Start at 5, take a break, get back in for 5. The next time try 10 and so on. Listen to your body, something that is not taught to us in school. If you are really looking for a challenge, try Gabby and Laird Hamilton’s technique of going from the sauna to a ice bath. Now I have not tried Gabby and Laird Hamilton’s technique but, from how they explain it, it seems as though it could be very beneficial.
The second thing that really stood out to me was just how clear my skin was. Granted, I have never had an issue with acne or oily skin. But, I could see how fresher my skin feels everyday. In doing my research, some experts think that a few minutes in a sauna can be helpful for acne-prone skin.
A very common misconception with saunas is it is a great way to sweat out toxins. This is actually more an urban myth than anything truly substantial. Yes, the body does appear to sweat out toxic materials like heavy metals and bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in plastics. All of which have been detected in sweat. However, there is no evidence that sweating out any of those toxic materials can improve health. The only thing that really gets rid of toxins from your body is going to be your liver and kidneys.
One of the benefits of using a sauna I noticed was the increased craving to eat healthier. When I am out of the sauna is the immediate craving I have for water, especially coconut water! I never got out of the sauna and thought, “I would love a Pepsi right now!”. Overtime, I tended to move towards eating lighter (salads, soups) vs eating heavy (hamburgers, with a bun).
Due to the amount of stress you put your body, and mind, through, what you use to fuel you really matters. If you go into the sauna off eating a big burrito, the sauna is going to be rough. Going in after eating a light salad, you can last. Whenever you are putting your body through an immense amount of stress, your body looks to rely on the fuel you put in it. What do you think your body wants more? A big, greasy, hamburger with cheese or a light salad with some quinoa and olives? If you are looking to eat healthier using a sauna, outside of exercise, can quickly help you change the cravings for the foods you want.
We have all become incredibly busy. We can “take work home” and answer emails late into the night. Rarely do we have time to fine tune some essential skills to help us get through the day. A huge benefit of using a sauna, for me, has been to practice my Breathing and Meditation.
For years, I had issues with having stamina. I always realized, no matter how much I ran, I gassed out relatively quickly. Overtime, I became to realize that it was because I had been breathing wrong. Actually I am not alone, as mentioned by Laird Hamilton on the Joe Rogan Podcast, over the last 200 years, many humans have become mouth breathers. Meaning we are only breathing from our mouth, not our nose.
In addition to this, many of us are also breathing from our neck, not our diaphragm. I have been trying to retrain my body to breath the correct way. I have used the sauna as a great way to practice my performance breathing. In a sauna, there is no where else to go. You are sitting in a hot room, breathing. Outside of sitting in a sauna, it is incredibly important to breathe correctly. I followed Laird Hamilton’s instructional videos on how to breath correctly.
Now that you know how to breathe correctly, utilizing this time to work on meditation is one of the benefits of using a sauna. Meditation has been a huge help with me being able to deal with stress and clearing my mind. One of the most difficult parts to meditating is meditating. We get so busy with our lives that we forget to take the time for self care. Utilizing this time to work on you is a perfect opportunity to work on your meditation.
I actually did a lot of research on this topic to see if one of the benefits of using a sauna was increased athletic performance. I constantly am looking at wise, with my limited time, to help increase endurance. After my research I found a lot of really insightful information!
Dr. Rhonda Patrick does a really great job of explaining the performance enhancing aspects of using a sauna. Here are a few things she speaks about that really stood out to me:
Now, I could try to explain all the above topics but I think it would be best to hear it from Dr. Rhonda Patrick herself. There is a great Youtube video by Rhonda Patrick that really dives deep into benefits of Hyperthermic Conditioning. The results will surprise you!
Regardless of the benefits of using a sauna, the whole purpose is for you to relax. But, if you are in to optimizing yourself to improve, then I believe my 5 benefits of using a sauna will help you take your life to the next level.