Steamed: Ten Things You Should Know About the Sauna

Typical German Sauna
Typical German Sauna

Pankow’s local seniors have noticed a new phenomenon: in recent months, steady and growing streams of young foreign students have begun to patronize their beloved sauna. This is due to a new (and rather sweaty) trend sweeping the ECLA campus. As such, the Spok sauna is a legitimate hangout spot for young ECLAlites. Such attendance has inspired me to comprise a list of ten things any faithful attendee (or any curious novice) should know before he or she gets steamed.

  1. The earliest sauna was discovered inside a cave on the northern banks of the Caspian Sea; it is dated to the 3rd century B.C.E. This premodern sauna includes a stone-carved fireplace with seats and a working chimney. Smokey!
  2. The origin of the word ‘sauna’ is Finnish (Savu), meaning ‘smoke’.
  3. During most of the 19th century, the Russian occupation of Finland outlawed any national or political associations, making the sauna the only place where Finnish people could meet and discuss political matters. This tradition helped reinforced their nationalism.
  4. After almost disappearing during the early 20th century, the sauna made its grand reemergence during WWII, where it once again served as a source of comradery and patriotic pride during the days of hardship.
  5. In the mid 1950’s, NASA flew its first test pilots to Helsinki in order to conduct several experiments inside traditional Finnish saunas. In those experiments, NASA investigated the heat limits of the human body, which later contributed to the design of the Apollo rockets.
  6. Last year, the national Finnish Sauna Association celebrated its 60th birthday. The association is composed of more than 2,000 professional sweaters from around the globe, which gather every four years in what is known as the International Sauna Congress.
  7. A majority of modern saunas are operated by electrical or gas stoves, yet some are heated by a state-of-the-art infrared laser!
  8. Although it immensely contributed to high hygiene standards by the Finnish, medical studies show no health benefits associated with sauna use.
  9. On the other hand, psychological studies reveal that regular sauna usage improves emotional health and well-being by reducing stress and anxiety. Furthermore, they claim that it also serves as an important tool to maintain and strengthen social bonds.
  10. Spok’s sauna is open daily from 9 AM to 10 PM, so bring a towel and just R E L A X.
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