Are you a novice sauna user? For all those beginners out there, let me first say congratulations on making a decision to do something that will change your life and make you healthy. Second, let me say that there are many different opinions and rituals that cover how to use a sauna but for the purposes of this article, for the apprentice sauna user, we will offer some suggestions about how to begin this amazingly healthy activity. As you become more proficient and knowledgeable in the art of sauna, you will likely make soon adjustments to your routine to suit your individual tastes. Now, let's get right to some directions on how to use a sauna.

1. Check with your medical doctor to ensure there are no unnecessary risks to your health due to the intense heat of the sauna room.

2. Make sure you have set aside sufficient time to enjoy your sauna experience. You will likely need 1 to 2 hours.

3. Take a shower before your sauna bath to remove oils, make up and other cosmetic products, deodorant and other things that might contaminate your sauna.

4. Next, you're headed for the sauna room. Take a towel to place on the bench or seat before sitting or reclining on it. Usually, saunas are done nude but, if you prefer, you may put on a bath suit or just wrap a towel around you.

5. Now you're ready to just sit or lay back and let the heat flood your body. Feel the pores of your skin open. At first the hot, dry air of the sauna room may feel oppressive. If this is very bothersome, you might wish to try ladling a bit of water onto the stones of the heater (be sure to ladle the water on the stones not the heater itself). The resulting steam may make the room seem hotter but it will not feel so dry. If this is your first time sauna bathing, then you may wish to adjust your sauna temperature to around 176 degrees F (or 80 degrees C) and build up your heat from there. As you adjust to the temperature, if you desire a hotter experience, you can always move up to a higher bench in the room because heat rises and the upper benches will be hotter than the lower ones. If it is too hot, then you can move to a lower bench or just let some of the heat out of the room by opening the door briefly.

6. Cooling – this step is very important in your sauna bath. After 10 to 20 minutes, or perhaps sooner, you may start to feel too hot. This is the time to leave the sauna room and cool your body by either showering, jumping into a swimming pool or lake, rolling in the snow (if it is available) or just relax in area outside the sauna heat room. It is always a good idea to check with your medical doctor to get his or her recommendation on some of these intents methods of cooling. Always make sure that you have sufficient cool beverages (non alcohol type) to rehydrate your body during this cooling cycle. Alcohol can exaggerate the dehydration and it can cloud your judgment.

7. Next return to the sauna room and warm up again. This time, use the vihta (whisk made of tender birch twigs bound together) or wooden whisk to promote circulation. Swat your body gently from head to foot.

8. Repeat your cooling off period. You may wish to return to the sauna to warm up again before your final shower.

9. Shower, dry off and don a robe. Get another cool non alcoholic drink and lay back and relax while you cool down again. Since sauna bathing can dry out your skin, you may wish to apply a moisturizer to your skin after you cool down before you dress.

These are some simple steps to accomplishing your sauna experience. You will likely make some changes as you learn more about sauna use and sauna temperatures and season it with your personal preferences. Above all, enjoy the sauna benefits and relax!