It is probable that at least once in your lifetime you have heard about Russian Sauna, or so called “banya” and its traditions. It was created long time ago and converted into a real cultural phenomenon with its own rules. Let us give 5 good reasons to try genuine Russian Banya in 2020:
1. Try an activity that has 2500 y.o. How was the banya created?
The origins of the banya date back to the 5th century BC. We trace its birth in Ukraine, where the banya was made of pieces of wood used as a structure to hold a felt cloth. At the middle of this space was a kettle filled with water where heated rocks were plunged. Slowly, this sauna culture became a part of the Slavic life. It was celebrating religious events and family traditional holidays such as birthdays and weddings.
Banya was accessible for the richest and the poorest. The richest had their own banya area allowing them to have more comfort and privacy. The poorest who did not own a banya, heated their ovens and wet the walls of their houses to create a slight sensation of humidity.
The access to the banya became widely democratized thereafter. Common and public spaces were created to bring the entire population together in one place. Luxury banyas were opened for the richest, such as Sanduny Baths in Moscow, for example. These spaces offered to their customers exceptional furniture and more comfort as well as better customer services.
2. Learn how to do the Russian Sauna and teach your friends!
As Russian Sauna is a real tradition, it has to be done the good way. Today the banya is composed of a wooden space with a wood-burning stove. It is important to prepare the banya in advance so that it can be very hot. When the temperature reaches between 80-100 C degrees, you can begin the activity.
Put on your bathing suit and sit on one of the benches along the wall of the banya. Watch out! The higher you sit, the hotter you’ll get! So, if you’re not sure you can stand the heat, start by sitting on the lower bench. Once on your bench, you can sprinkle water with essential oils on the hot stones placed above the stove to warm and humidify the room.
Shake your towel over your head if you want the heat to circulate in the banya.
A session lasts between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on your resistance to heat. As the banya is much hotter, the sessions are shorter than those in a classic sauna.
The goal at the end of the session is to cause a thermal shock to your body. You can jump in the cold pool, or spill the bucket with cold water on your head or, if you are in winter, roll in the snow or jump into a frozen lake.
3. The benefits of Russian Sauna
The advantages of the banya are worldwide known and confirmed by specialists:
- From inside: it cleans the body by eliminating toxins
- From outside: it removes dead skin and cleans pores
- Russian Sauna is the best cure to insomnia and daily anxiety
- Banya helps human lungs to recharge and work better
The extreme change in temperature also allows the body to gain strength and develops the immune system. There’s no doubt that after a banya session you’ll sleep like a baby!
4. The reason why Russian Banya should be done in groups of friends or with family
Visiting Russian Sauna is highly recommended to do with closest friends or family. Banya is, all in all, a limited space where you are almost naked.
Between each session, it is common to get together to drink tea and eat some fruits or to drink cold beer with snacks while playing cards or just chatting.
According to lots of stories, in business, many contracts are discussed and signed in banya and the agreement is usually concluded by drinking one shot of vodka! In Russia businessmen and political figures are usually going to the Russian Sauna together, in order to discuss important matters in complete privacy.
If you travel to Russia, it’s a legendary activity to organize with your family or friends! Don’t hesitate to check our traditional banya tour !
5. Russian Sauna = connection with Nature. Why is Russian banya so priceless?
If Russians regularly practice banya, it is also because it allows them to reconnect with nature and put everyday worries aside. In St. Petersburg, we can organize for you a traditional banya in the forest, after a dog-trekking hike!
Banya is practiced naked and people are surrounded by the simplest elements of nature: wood, heat, water, snow, stones… Banya is considered to be a way to enjoy the wonders that nature offers to recharge one’s batteries.
Russians also have a tradition of whipping themselves with bouquets made of birch or oak branches. This bouquet is called “Venik”. It is plunged in a bucket of cold water and then used to whip itself. This process has many benefits:
- Reactivates blood circulation: because of the heat, the vessels are “asleep”. Whipping them with the Venik – reactivates.
- Accelerates sweating: the contact of the Venik on the skin activates perspiration.
- Removes dead skin: the contact of the leaves and branches will allow the dead skin to peel off.
- Venik process is not painful. Vice versa, it feels amazing – especially after!
You want to try banya when travelling to Russia? Book your tour with us on www.tsarvisit.com !