Which sauna for your dosha?

Especially when it is cold and rather dark outside, we long for warmth and comfort. Be it a crackling fire in the fireplace, a warming cup of tea, a soothing bath or a visit to the sauna. Especially in winter, many people feel the need to bring in warmth from outside and really warm up inside. This is not only good for the body, but also for the soul and helps to relax the mind.

In Ayurveda, heat applications are of great importance and are summarized under the Sanskrit word Svedana. The heat serves to open the small body tubules, the so-called srotas, and thus “liquefy” metabolic waste products so that they can be removed more easily. As a result, we feel clearer, refreshed and deeply cleansed afterwards.

Sweating treatments are very good at soothing excess Vata and Kapha, but can have an irritating effect on the Pitta Dosha under certain circumstances. Classic treatments include steam baths, dry heat, warm packs, wraps and oil applications.

In the classical scriptures, sweating treatments are divided into four categories:

  • Ushma Sveda: sweating induced by the use of dry heat or warm steam, where steam tends to reduce Vata and dry heat is particularly good at pacifying Kapha.
  • Drava Sveda: Sweating caused by hot liquids effectively reduces Vata and Kapha, especially in connection with Pitta.
  • Tapa Sveda: Sweating caused by solid, hot substances primarily reduces Kapha, but also Vata.
  • Upanaha Sveda: Sweating through hot compresses has a particularly calming effect on the Vata dosha.
Svedana (Ganzkörper-Kräuterdampfbad)

Picture: Ayurvedic treatment, Svedana (full-body herbal steam bath)

If you have already enjoyed a Panchakarma treatment, then you have probably already had experience with warm oil infusions, hot packs and stamps or the sweat bath. These treatments are prescribed to you individually based on your constitution and a possible dosha imbalance in order to soothe these conditions and associated symptoms.

However, you can also make targeted use of heat outside of a cure to relax, detoxify and reduce symptoms such as pain, tension and joint stiffness.

Which sauna for your dosha?

Not every sauna is equally suitable for every type and can lead to restlessness, cardiovascular complaints, headaches and severe reddening of the skin.

To avoid these undesirable side effects, it is first important to be aware of which dosha predominates in your own constitution or is currently imbalanced. For an initial overview, you can carry out a Dosha test online here on our website: Dosha self-test

If you tend to have a lot of Vata in your constitution or are currently suffering from Vata complaints, such as circling thoughts, restlessness, problems falling asleep, shivering, etc., then we recommend particularly mild, moist steam baths, which balance out the cold, dry and rough properties of Vata. The bio sauna at around 50° to 60° is also usually very well tolerated.

Picture: One of the luxurious steam baths at the Häckers Grand Hotel

If your Pitta is very pronounced or imbalanced, which can be expressed for example by redness, excessive acidity and inflammation, you should only use steam baths carefully in winter. The properties of pitta are hot, pungent and oily. A Finnish sauna with an air temperature of 90° would therefore be rather unfavorable and would strongly irritate Pitta.

Kapha, on the other hand, has moist and cool properties, which can best be countered by dry heat. Here again, the Finnish sauna or earth sauna is the right choice and is generally well tolerated and perceived as pleasant.

The following types of steam baths can be distinguished:

  • Caldarium: This refers to the classic Roman steam bath, which can be found in most saunas and is very beneficial for respiratory diseases due to its high humidity of almost 100% and is particularly good at reducing Vata disorders.
  • Tepidarium: Suitable for people who do not cope well with the humid sultriness and where the temperature is a maximum of 40°.
  • Brine steam bath: Salt water is vaporized here, which is particularly beneficial for skin and respiratory diseases.
  • Herbal steam bath: Herbs and essential oils with very different effects are used here, such as eucalyptus, camomile, sage or pine.
  • Light steam bath: Combination of light effects in the sense of light therapy and soothing herbs.

The infrared sauna plays a special role as it has significantly lower temperatures than the classic sauna and is therefore very well tolerated by all dosha types. The infrared rays penetrate deep into the skin and generate a pleasant deep heat in the body at around 60°, which has a very positive effect on the musculoskeletal system and blood pressure. Due to the relatively low purchase price, ease of use and small space requirements, infrared cabins are being used in more and more people’s homes.

Ayurvedic recommendations for visiting the sauna

To make a sauna session a pleasant experience, it is advisable to keep the following things in mind:

  • Drink enough high-quality water or herbal tea to compensate for the loss of fluids in between.
  • It is best to keep your eyes closed in the sauna, as the eyes are assigned to Pitta and are considered sensitive to heat.
  • The head and brain do not particularly like excessive heat either and should ideally be covered with a damp cloth.
  • After the sauna, do not plunge directly into the ice pool or take an ice-cold shower, but rather rinse off with lukewarm water or take a few steps outside. This can make a big difference, especially for Vata-dominant types.
  • Do not do more than three sessions and ideally take a 30-minute break in the relaxation room in between. Doing more rounds has a weakening effect, is mentally exhausting and can put too much strain on the circulation. Pitta-dominant types in particular notice this.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks during and after the sauna, as alcohol also has a Pitta-increasing effect.
  • After the sauna, you should dress warmly and avoid cold draughts (especially on the head) at all costs.
  • After the sauna, eat light, alkaline food such as vegetable soup or a light curry and avoid food that is difficult to digest.

Warming alternative to the sauna

If you don’t have the opportunity to visit a sauna, you can also use heat treatments at home. Alkaline baths, which have a special detoxifying effect, provide pleasant warmth and are deeply relaxing, are very suitable. For this you need a good alkaline salt, for example from Jentschura or Basasan. Add 3 heaped tablespoons to a full bath and 1 tablespoon to a foot bath. It is important that the water is not too warm. For a cleansing effect, it should be around 38 degrees and the bath should last 45-60 minutes, only then can toxins be removed through the skin. You can keep running warm water in between so that you don’t start to freeze.

Alternatively, you can also perform an Abhyanga first and then bathe after 30 minutes. We recommend a simple full bath without alkaline salt, but with the addition of essential oils such as lavender, sage, eucalyptus, camomile or mandarin.

This is exactly what is prescribed individually by the doctor during a Panchakarma treatment, as the extensive oil massage, the Abhyanga, followed by a herbal steam bath while lying down, has a particularly deep Vata-relaxing effect. It also supports the body in releasing deposited ‘cellular waste’ from its anchoring in cells and tissues and transporting it to the excretory organs through the subsequent heat.

© Maharishi Ayurveda Private Clinic Bad Ems

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