A Unique Blend of Ice and Fire - Russian Banya

You have never been to Russia without experiencing the Russian Banya (sauna).

A Unique Blend of Ice and Fire - Russian Banya

Photo taken from freephotos.cc

The sauna has become a cultural phenomenon in many countries around the world. In Russia, the Russian Banya is unique, with relatively high humidity that can even reach 100 degrees. The Russian Banya is an indispensable part of the lives of ordinary people in Russia and is also the "way of hospitality" for Russian people.

The Russian Banya is usually housed in a wooden building. Upon entering, you proceed to the shower room, wash your entire body with warm water and soap, dry your skin, wrap a towel around your waist, put on a felt hat, and then enter the steam bath, which is shared by men and women.

Once inside, people start pouring water on the hot stones to release steam. The steam bath is a wooden structure, and at this point, several special stones in the room need to be manually heated. Water is then poured on the heated stones to generate steam, allowing the temperature and humidity to reach the required levels.

Bathers sit on stepped wooden boards and constantly change positions to evenly heat all parts of their bodies. During this time, you will sweat profusely, and your head will feel particularly hot. Some people may even slap each other's bodies with softened "branches," which promotes blood circulation in the skin's surface vessels, while the air continues to circulate.

It's important to note that those with poor physical fitness should take shorter baths, usually a few minutes, while those with robust health can last for more than ten minutes. When your entire body is hot and your skin is red, you can "run out" of the steam room and enter the cooling room or go directly outdoors to feel the cold wind. Stepping on the snow with bare feet is also a unique experience. Usually, there is a swimming pool in the cooling room with a water temperature of about 15°C, where you can soak for 3 to 4 minutes. Before feeling cold, enter the shower room, dry your body, rest for a while, and then re-enter the steam room. Typically, this process is repeated 3 to 4 times before it concludes.

The most distinctive feature of the Russian Banya is the repeated beating of the body from head to toe with hot plant branches and leaves during bathing. This cleaning method, resembling "whipping" to some, is said to massage the body and promote blood circulation.

Now, with the passage of time, the culture of the Russian Banya is continuously evolving. Nowadays, more and more hotels and resorts are beginning to provide modern sauna facilities to meet the diverse needs of customers. Simultaneously, some traditional sauna customs are gradually disappearing and being replaced by more modern methods. However, no matter how it changes, the core values of the Russian banya - relaxation and social interaction - remain unchanged.

If you want to experience a Russian sauna, here are some suggestions

Choose the right sauna

1.      There are various types of saunas in Russia, including public saunas, private saunas, and hotel saunas. Choose the right venue based on your needs and budget.

Know banya's etiquette

1.      Before entering, it is essential to understand basic etiquette. For example, maintain silence, avoid touching other people's bodies, and refrain from eating in the sauna.

Dress appropriately

1.      Before entering the sauna, remove your clothes and put on a sauna suit. Be cautious not to wear too many layers of clothing to prevent affecting heat dissipation.

Use water wisely

1.      It is crucial to use water wisely during the sauna process. You can use a wet washcloth on your face or apply oil to keep your body hydrated.

Proper rest

Proper rest is vital during the sauna session. If you feel uncomfortable or tired, leave the sauna and rest for a while.

Enjoy socializing

Socializing is a crucial part of Russian sauna culture. Exchange information, share experiences, and develop friendships with others.

Experienced by

Chen Liu