Banya

What is the right Spa for me?

Spa.   The Oxford English Dictionary defines this in two ways:

  1. A place or resort with a mineral spring
  2. A commercial establishment offering health & beauty treatments through such means as steam baths, exercise equipment and massage.

This can be further broken down into different commercial spas:

  1. Destination spas
  2. Spa Resorts
  3. Days Spas

So far, so confusing.   Let’s take a closer look at each spa to understand what each one offers  🙂

 

DESTINATION SPAS:

Destination Spas are residential facilities that concentrate on improving health and fitness through exercise, nutrition, spa treatments and thermal wellbeing. They are all about relaxation and rejuvenation and learning how to live a healthy life.    The spa is the destination, you are there for a reason and that is to spa and nothing else!  You can stay for as long as you want, from days to months if budget allows!  The aim is to restore your health and vitality.

Six Senses Yao-noi Spa, Thailand

The cost usually includes all meals, exercise classes and some spa treatments, but obviously check before you book.

They are staffed by experts in various disciplines e.g yoga or nutrition or herbal medicine, and promote a healthy and active lifestyle during your stay.   Some personalise therapies to their guests so that they gain optimum benefit from their time there.

Children aren’t normally welcome in a destination spa.  It is however suitable for people travelling alone but who want to spend time with like-minded people and for couples.

 

SPA RESORTS:

A spa resort caters more for families in a hotel situation and is less focused on an all-encompassing health and wellness experience.   The spa treatments are usually only one part of the stay which can include outdoor pools, tennis, cycling and golf.   They are likely to have a suite of saunas and steam rooms with maybe an ice room or plunge pool alongside a gym for guests to use during their stay.

Treetop Sauna, Centre Parcs, Sherwood Forest

At a spa resort the focus is on enjoying yourself, eat and drink healthy if you like, but if you don’t there are other options available on the menu!

Some spa resorts can also act as a day spa, whereby access is allowed to day guests who aren’t residents of the hotel.

 

DAY SPAS:

As the name suggests, these aren’t residential – you literally visit a day spa for a day without any overnight accommodation.

They usually have a variety of pampering facilities for the guest to experience such as massages, beauty therapies and holistic treatments and have thermal rooms and swimming pools. Gym facilities are very common now too.   Packages generally include a treatment and lunch or afternoon tea.

 

Pennyhill Park Spa

Day spas vary in price depending on what treatments they can offer.   Some may just offer manicures and massage alongside a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, whilst others offer a full range of treatments, some even including more ‘medical’ ones such as Botox and laser facials, with a selection of thermal wellbeing rooms and pools.

A lot of day spas are attached to hotels or country clubs and allow guests to stay at the hotel if they wish and then revisit again the next day.

http://www.sixsenses.com/resorts/yao-noi/spa

http://www.centerparcs.co.uk/thingstodo/aqua_sana.jsp

https://www.exclusive.co.uk/the-spa/

Wellbeing in the City – ESPA at The Corinthia

The Corinthia is a luxury 5 star spa hotel set in the centre of London, just a short walk from Trafalgar Square.   When we were invited to visit from Magdi Abdelaty, the Spa Operations Manager, we jumped at the chance to experience the renowned Espa facilities first hand.

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The spa spreads out over 4 floors, including15 treatment rooms, a gym, hair salon and a Thermal Floor with heat experience rooms and pools. The décor is luxurious and relaxing mood lighting sets the ambience to an almost decadent level.

Our evening began with a leisurely swim in the shimmering silver stainless steel pool followed by a cool shower. We then took a ball of ice from the fountain and headed to the Amphitheatre sauna, set down into the floor with a spectacular suspended ceiling.   When the heat became slightly too much, we headed outside for more ice, bringing it back with us to the sauna and letting it melt over our bodies as we sat there!   The frameless glass sauna walls allowed us to watch the mesmerising flames of the nearby fire set within the wall.

david de vleeschauwer

david de vleeschauwer

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Next on our thermal journey was a visit to the Vitality Pool with its built-in loungers and powerful swan neck fountains.   This provided full relaxation for mind and body whilst relieving tired and aching muscles.  After the warmth of the pool, it was time to cool down again in the Dornbracht ‘Big Rain’ shower before moving on to the glamorous black mosaic tiled steam room to relax in clouds of fragranced steam.

david de vleeschauwer

david de vleeschauwer

We repeated the above journey before settling onto the heated marble relaxation loungers by another fireplace, luxuriating in the warmth of the beds and the glow of the fire.

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Eventually it was time to get changed and take part in the real world again.   But our journey of relaxation and luxury wasn’t over yet.   The changing rooms had a sauna in the Ladies Area and a Tepidarium in the Men’s.    And both rooms had sleeping pods, small booths with cushions and blankets where you could take a revitalising nap or even meditate in private.  A totally private oasis with no distractions in the middle of a bustling, busy city!

We all agreed it was a wonderfully relaxing experience.   Favourite part?  The sauna got a lot of votes due to its innovative design and the sleep pods were a definite hit!

 

For more information please visit:

https://www.espalifeatcorinthia.com/

Tel:                  +44(0) 20 7321 3050

Email:             espalife.london@corinthia.com

For more information on thermal wellbeing and how to gain optimum benefit from your thermal journey please visit:

http://www.dromuk.com/online/dromology/

Pure Infra – radiant wellbeing

If you have you ever wanted a sauna in your own home, but don’t have the space for the more traditional Finnish Sauna or Banya, then it might be worth considering an Infrared Sauna instead.

The Infra cabins come in various sizes to suit all homes, some as small as 1m2 , and have as wide a range of health benefits as a traditional sauna.  It therefore comes as no surprise to hear that Hollywood stars such as Jennifer Aniston are extolling the virtues of infrared and are making it part of their everyday wellbeing routine.

Radiant heat and long wave infrared is absorbed by the surface of the skin and is very similar to the heat we get from the sun.   Body tissue is then warmed without raising the air temperature unlike the more traditional sauna.   The infrared heat penetrates deep into the body, increasing the core temperature and inducing sweating which releases toxins.    As you sweat, your heart pumps faster, increasing the blood flow, reducing blood pressure and improving circulation.   The usual temperature range in a room is between 45-60 degrees with relative humidity.

As the infrared heat gently penetrates muscles and tissue directly, it can help to alleviate the pain of arthritis, bad backs and other ailments.   It can even help with dermatological problems as it can heal the epidermis layer of your skin.

Some studies suggest there is also the added benefit of slight weight loss as your body works hard to cool itself thus burning up some calories!!

You can easily experience the added health benefits of mood changing colour therapy by installing chromotherapy lighting to your infra cabin (as discussed in our previous blog post ‘Complementary Wellbeing Part 2:  Chromotherapy’ published in July 2015).   You can also incorporate a music system within the room to fully maximise your wellbeing enjoyment.

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Infra cabins come in a variety of sizes

All infrared delivery systems produce EMR (Electromagnetic Radiation) and EF (Electrical Field) to some extent.   Because of this, Pure Infra technology was developed to take the worry out of unnecessary exposure.  For example, the EF in a Pure Infra cabin is less than you would experience from a computer or mobile phone.   Swedish manufacturer Tylö AB incorporate their exclusive Evenheat technology into their Infrared Saunas which spreads the heat evenly throughout the cabin without any ‘cold spots’ or unnecessary exposure to electrical fields.

A major advantage of Pure Infra Cabins is that they are ready to use in a very short space of time and operate efficiently, using up to 20% less energy than other systems.   There are many different infrared heating systems but Tylö AB use the CarbonFlex system which has large infra panels, again ensuring an even distribution of heat across the benches walls and floor.

Once your Infrared room has been delivered and assembled, simply plug directly into a normal electrical socket and start enjoying the wellbeing benefits of soothing radiant heat in an aesthetically pleasing, fully glass fronted cabin.

Whatever taste, budget or space restrictions there is an infra cabin for you.

 

For more information on Infra Red cabins, please call Dröm UK on 01932 355655.

Beat the Winter Blues with Thermal Wellbeing

Christmas is over, Dry January is gone and just as we start to look forward to longer days, lighter evenings and the odd glass of wine,  it seems as though the cough, cold and flu season has arrived with a vengeance to stop us in our tracks.

There is no known medical cure for the common cold but there are plenty of ways to look after yourself and reduce the risk of catching the virus.   And even if you do succumb, there are some tricks around to help reduce the severity and length of your suffering!

The best way to avoid flu is to take advantage of a flu vaccine.   Contrary to some beliefs, this does not infect you with the virus and is a great help with staying healthy.   It is even safe for pregnant women as it can protect newborn babies after birth and during the early months of life.  Catching flu whilst pregnant can lead to a variety of complications and can be quite dangerous.  Flu vaccines are available free to the elderly, children and ‘at risk’ patients, and are also easily available from supermarkets and pharmacists for around £10.

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If you do catch a cold make sure you rest, drink plenty of fluids and take paracetomol and ibuprofen to reduce a fever.    Although there is no scientific evidence to prove it, taking vitamins such as Vitamin C and Zinc can help shorten the lifespan of a cold but won’t prevent you catching it in the first place.   To avoid spreading germs, always wash your hands whenever you sneeze or cough, try to catch it in a tissue that is thrown away immediately and don’t touch your eyes and nose as droplets can enter the body through here.  Keep surfaces clean and disinfected and don’t share towels or toys.

A great way to make yourself feel better is to breathe in steam scented with 100% pure Eucalyptus essential oil.   If you don’t have a steam room to relax in, a great alternative is to add a few drops of the oil to a bowl of hot water.   Cover your head and the bowl with a towel and inhale deeply a few times.   This can clear the sinuses helping you breathe more easily.  Pine Needle essential oil is also good for helping find relief from infections, coughs and colds and can also help relieve aches, pains and fatigue.

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Kicki Carlsson Essential Oils available from Dröm UK Ltd – 01932 355655

 

Spending time in a salt room can help relieve the symptoms of cold and flu and also help prevent reoccurrence (if used frequently).   The salt ions in the air open the airways in the nose, helping to clear the sinuses and killing bacteria.   As the salt particles dissolve in the air and are breathed into the lungs,  they attract positively charged impurities which can then be coughed up or leave the body during metabolic processes via the bloodstream, helping remove all toxins and germs.

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A salt room can help alleviate symptoms of colds and flu

Sauna bathing is another great way to help battle infections.   The high temperatures in the sauna create fever like conditions in the body which in turn stimulates the white blood cells, giving a boost to your immune system.  This fights off infection and helps kill infected cells before they multiply further.   Sweating caused by high temperatures also opens the skin’s pores and helps reduce the levels of toxins and impurities in the body.

Herbal Sauna 1

The Herbal Sauna at Hotel Campiglio Bellavista, Italy

Add a few drops of healing essential oils to the water that is ladled on to the stones and breathe in the scented steam to help clear nasal passages.   Or place fresh eucalyptus, peppermint or pine needles into a herb bowl, suspended over the heater.   As the herbs heat up in the water, their aroma is released into the room.  As before, breathe deeply and let the decongestion benefits work their magic.

However, the simplest way to stave off the dreaded lurgy is to live a healthy lifestyle.   NHS UK recommend eating a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables, taking plenty of exercise and drinking lots of fluids.

 

For more information on the health benefits of thermal bathing click on the link below to view our stunning brochure:  Drömology, Wellbeing Personified  http://www.dromuk.com/online/dromology/

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Perfect Prefabs

As well as offering bespoke solutions to your wellbeing requirements, Dröm UK can also provide you with a stunning, prefabricated room option.   These can still be personalised to your tastes at a fraction of the cost of a full bespoke room.

Encompassing wellbeing into your daily routine is becoming increasingly popular as everyday stress levels rise.  Instead of heading to your local gym or spa, why not create a personal spa area in your own home?  It is much easier than you think.

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One of the main benefits of having your own sauna or steam room, is that you can bathe in a temperature that suits you, not everyone else in your gym or spa!   You can personalise the experience even further with the addition of essential oils, choosing whichever matches the level of relaxation or rejuvenation you wish to achieve.  Sound systems can be incorporated within the rooms and you can even watch television!   Add some chromotherapy lighting to further relax and reinvigorate you.

Another benefit is that it is a perfect way to introduce children to the concept of wellbeing.  Children can use the lower benches of saunas where the temperature is lower and the whole family can use the time to relax together.    A ‘soft’ sauna, which is a sauna with more moisture in the air, therefore making the heat less intense, is more popular with women and children.

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Evolve Sauna Room

As long as there is room for one person to sit down, there are no minimum or maximum space requirements needed to install a sauna or steam room, with some prefabricated saunas as small as 1.3 sq m.  Tylö Evolve sauna rooms are delivered in prefabricated modules and are the easiest, quickest way to realise your sauna dream. The benches and backrests are made of Aspen with a choice of Aspen or Spruce wall panelling. The Evolve comes in 17 different sizes and shapes which can be supplemented with glass sections, lighting systems and accessories.  Glass fronted variations are also available, again in several different sizes.   Choose a combination heater to enjoy a steam sauna experience.

Alternatively choose an Impression sauna room.

Impression sauna room (corner)

Impression sauna room (corner)

This comes complete with two benches at different levels.  The lacquered aluminium profiles of the frame simply clip together so no screws are needed for assembly.   The sleek lines of the design and the detachable jalousie make this simplicity itself to clean.   These sauna rooms can be installed onto an existing hard base/floor.

 

 

Another way to experience the benefits of both steam and sauna in your home, is to have a combined unit.   The Tylö Impression Twin combines a sauna and steam shower giving you the best of both worlds.   This is available in various sizes, the smallest being 1.4 x 1.9m.

Impression Twin Sauna & Steam Room

Impression Twin Sauna & Steam Room

Tylö also have a range of prefabricated steam rooms supplied in ready to assemble wall and ceiling sections, again available in various sizes, one of the smallest being 1330 x 930 mm.    The Elysee and Excellent steam rooms are made from high tech, vacuum formed, special grade white plastic.  The more modern Panacea range incorporates chromotherapy lighting and has benches and accessories styled from Corian.   All steam rooms are very easy to clean with no grout lines, which helps keep them hygienic.

Elysee and Panacea steam rooms

Elysee and Panacea steam rooms

There are no special water requirements needed for a home spa.  Steam rooms just need a basic water supply and drainage.   If you are thinking of incorporating an experience shower then the water pressure will need to be appropriate for the fitting.   A water supply is not required for saunas.

Installing an Infra Red sauna cabin is even easier as most can just be plugged in to a normal electrical socket.   The Tylö range of Infra Cabins start at just 914mm x 914mm.

For more information on any of the above options please contact Dröm UK on 01932 355655 or visit http://www.dromuk.com.

 

 

A Bather’s Guide to Thermal Rooms – Part 3 (Saunas)

Thermal bathing is becoming more popular than ever. However, with so many different rooms to use, how do you know which ones will offer you the benefits you are looking for?

Follow our series of blogs designed to explain the look, temperature, useage and benefits of each room and discover the range of experiences and rituals available.

Overview:

In general, sauna rooms are traditionally clad in timber with benches, a wood stove or electric heater and stones.   They are commonly built using Aspen, Alder, Cedar, Spruce, Ash or Kelo timber, some of which can be heat treated to intensify their colour and aroma.   Some rooms have feature walls made from slate or stone and glass can also be used for walls and doors to enhance the feeling of space.   Both LED lighting and fibre optics are used for ambience, relaxation and mood enhancement through chromotherapy.

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Some rooms have feature walls made from slate or stone and glass can also be used for walls and doors to enhance the feeling of space.   Both LED lighting and fibre optics are used for ambience, relaxation and mood enhancement through chromotherapy (please see previous blog post Complementary Wellbeing Part 2 – Chromotherapy for more on the benefits of mood lighting).

Traditional (or Finnish) Sauna:

Temp Range:   80 – 100C                             

Percentage Humidity:   10-20%

Traditional (or Finnish) Sauna

Traditional (or Finnish) Sauna

A traditional sauna is a hot, dry room with wooden benches, typically in two tiers.   The lower benches are always cooler than the top benches, often by about 20 degrees.  Ensure you find a temperature to bathe in that is comfortable for you.   Small amounts of water can be ladled onto the stones to increase the humidity for a short period of time.  Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the water (if you can – not all commercial spas will allow it), infusing the steam created with your chosen fragrance.

Benefits:

The high temperature in the sauna releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers, sometimes referred to as ‘happy hormones’.  Endorphins can ease the pain of arthritis and relieve muscle soreness after intense exercise.     Sweating caused by high temperatures opens the skin’s pores and helps reduce levels of toxins and impurities in the body, eliminating waste and reducing the load put on the kidneys.  Sauna bathing also lowers blood pressure temporarily and improves circulation as the blood cells dilate, increasing the oxygen levels around the body.

Banya (or Russian Bathing):

Temperature Range:      70-110⁰C

Percentage Humidity:   40-70%

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Banya (or Russian Bathing)

A Banya traditionally incorporates a wood burning heater.  Water is generously ladled onto hot stones, or even thrown at the walls, to increase the humidity in the room.  To protect the head from overheating in the high temperatures, bathers often wear Sauna hats which can first be dipped in water to aid the cooling process.    Often a massage is carried out using a fragrant bundle of thin leafy twigs bound together called a Venik, or Vihta.  This is said to release toxins through the skin, ease muscle tension and improve blood circulation.

Venik Massage:

Venik

Venik bundle

There are several techniques involved in a Venik massage – waggling, compressing, stroking and lashing.  It is best to use these techniques one after the other.

Waggle – flutter the Venik just above the body to create an air flow that warms the body up for more intense procedures.

Stroking – gently press the Venik against the body and draw it from head to toe and back again.

Compress – raise the Venik up to the warmer air, shake it to gather the heat, then press firmly against the body for 2-3 seconds

Lashing:  Light sliding hits with the Venik.

Alternate the stroking and lashing, then combine compressing and lashing – lash the body two or three times and then press against the body for 2-3 seconds.  Generally, this is carried out by an experienced masseuse.

Benefits:             The same as for a Traditional Sauna.

Herbal Sauna:

Temperature Range:      50-70⁰C

Percentage Humidity:   25-40%

Herbal Sauna 1

Herbal Sauna

An herbal sauna is very similar to a traditional sauna, although is often slightly cooler.  Fresh or dried herbs of your choice are put into a small amount of water in a bowl or dish suspended over the heater stones.    In commercial saunas, a tray of herbs is placed above the heater and water is dripped over the herbs from a tap.    As the herbs heat up in the water, their aroma is released gently into the room.

As in the traditional sauna, the lower benches are always cooler than the top benches so bathe where you feel the most comfortable.   Ladle water over the stones to increase humidity for short periods.

 

Sauna Master (or Aufgiesser)

Several spa’s employ a Sauna Master to enhance the bathing experience of their guests.   It is impossible to give an exact description of what they do as each Sauna Master will have their own techniques and rituals.  However the experience will always involve aromatherapy and heat manipulation.

Generally, the Sauna Master will pour water enriched with essential oils onto the hot stones, creating a burst of scented steam, releasing the health properties of each essence.  This makes the air more humid and the heat feels more intense.

They will start waving a towel, using different movements, to agitate the hot air and circulate it around the sauna, intensifying the sensation of heat.  Then they fan the bathers by wafting the towel in front of them creating a wave of heat that rushes over their body.  The bathers breathe deeply, inhaling the healing vapours of the essences.

The Sauna Master will encourage bathers to leave and cool down before repeating the process several times.

 

 

 

For more information on bathing rituals click here:  http://www.dromuk.com/online/dromology

 

 

Sweat bathing the Banya way ….

Banya stove - Photo by Vlad Chorazy

Banya stove – Photo by Vlad Chorazy

A variation on the traditional sauna bathing practice is the Russian Banya.   The Russians have long understood the concept of health and water and sweat bathing is now part of everyday life for most Russians, because of the many health benefits as well as for relaxation.

The basic concept of true Banya bathing is to sit in an extremely hot sauna for 10-15 minutes (or as long as you feel comfortable), cool off in cold water, return to the sauna for an invigorating Venik massage then cool off again as before.  This ritual can be repeated as often as required and a refreshing drink (water or herbal tea) should be incorporated into each cooling down procedure.

The temperature within the Banya should always exceed 90 degrees Centigrade.   The heaters are wood burning stoves or ovens with stones on top.  Once the stones are hot enough, the smoke from the wood is let out either through the door (in a ‘Black’ banya) or the chimney (in a more modern ‘White’ banya).  Then water is poured onto the hot stones to produce the steam and increase the humidity in the room.     DROM_022

As the head heats up quicker than the rest of the body, it is advisable to wear a felt sauna hat.  This can be dipped into cool water beforehand, enabling the bather to stay in the Banya longer for optimum benefit.

The steam and heat of the Banya opens the pores, improves blood circulation, eliminates toxins through the skin, increases metabolism and increases the oxygen level of the cells.   The heat also creates artificial fever conditions within the body which boosts the immune system.

Once the bather is sweating profusely, it is time to cool off.  Most Russians throw themselves into the snow or an icy lake, but in the absence of these a quick dip into a plunge pool or ice bath is just as beneficial!     Watch out for future blogs on the best way to refresh after sauna bathing.

Then it is back to the Banya.   Again, water is sprinkled onto the stones to create more steam.   It is common to enhance the bathing experience by adding essential oils, eucalyptus leaves or mint to the water, as different fragrances can either aid relaxation, reinvigorate you or de-stress you.

Once the steam has disappeared and the sauna is bearably hot, it is time for a Venik massage.  A venik is a fragrant bundle of twigs tied together which is used to stroke and lash the body to improve blood circulation and metabolism.    The most common veniks are made from birch twigs, but eucalyptus and oak are also widely used.

There are several ways to use a Venik, including waggling, compressing, stroking and lashing massage techniques.   It is best to use these techniques one after the other.

IMG_7116Waggle – flutter the Venik just above the body to create an air flow that warms the body up for more intense procedures.

Stroke – gently press the Venik against the body and draw it from head to toe and back again.                                            

Compress – raise the Venik up to the warmer air, shake it to gather the heat, then press firmly against the body for 2-3 seconds.

Lash – Light sliding hits with the Venik.

Alternate the stroking and lashing, then combine compressing and lashing – lash the body two or three times and then press against the body for 2-3 seconds.  This stimulates blood flow to the outer layers of skin which helps draw waste out through the open pores.

To get the best out of Banya bathing, repeat the hot, cold and massage rituals several times.   Take your time and enjoy all the wellbeing benefits this particular form of sauna bathing can offer.