This morning I was running around in my back yard – naked. Once back inside, I started to hit myself with a birch whisk. If you’re not a Finn, you might wonder what…that was all about.
I’ll reveal you the truth straight away – it was all part of my morning sauna rituals. Some of you might have spotted my social media posts earlier in instagram and facebook “India gave the world yoga, Finland gave sauna”. In the post I was celebrating the big achievement; the Finnish sauna had finally reached internationally – chosen to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
In this challenging year of Covid-19 my home sauna has been my refuge big time.
We all have our own methods of relaxing. For me if I had to pick just two, I would go for yoga and sauna. I’ve been practicing yoga for 30 years and doing sauna bathing for 52 years. So I’m a bit more experienced with the sauna culture than yoga culture. In Finland even the babies are taken to sauna with their parents so the longing for sauna runs in our blood. Some people were even born in a sauna.
Global warming has changed things but when I was a kid, winter meant mountains of snow. That made sauna very special. We would cool off by running outside and roll in the snow naked. Then quickly back to the heat of the sauna and once feeling warmer again, starting to hit our bodies with a “vihta” which is a whisk made of fresh birch tree branches. During the summer time my dad would make a bunch of “vihta” and store them for the winter sauna sessions. Since my dad passed away I got my “vihta” this year as a xmas present, and not only one but two! The “vihta” treatment is said to enhance the blood circulation and simply leaves the skin smelling fresh as a birch tree.
This morning it was -3 C and the little snow we had melted away overnight. As rolling in the snow option was sadly not available I chose to just run around in the garden naked. My house in Finland is in the greater Helsinki area however we’re super fortunate to be located right next to a field and forest. Behind the house there are no neighbours so it’s perfect for my naked runs.
The Finnish sauna culture is so special that I wish to share it with the uninitiated. Summer 2021 I’ll offer a Finland retreat where I’ll combine two of my big loves; yoga and sauna. Worries aside, we won’t be running around naked though (unless you really insist) however we’ll be having a ton of refreshing dips in the sea during our sauna sessions. Surely we’ll practice together how to make the real Finnish “vihta” so you can enjoy hitting all the old stagnant energy off your body as you’re welcoming the new.
The Yoga Retreat LUMØ is scheduled for JULY 21-25, 2021 and you can find out more info here: www.skyogini.com/retreats
Happy boxing day and in the case we don’t happen to chat before the year ends – Happy & Healthy New Year!
Love, Sanna x