- As with most European saunas, it is usual for German saunas to be mixed-sex, and for those participating in the sauna experience to be fully naked. In some saunas, nudity is optional, while in others nudity is mandatory.
- While most German saunas are mixed-sex, many offer women-only hours. This may prove more comfortable if you are not familiar with the sauna experience, or if you feel insecure being naked around strangers.
- The purpose of being naked in a sauna has nothing to do with titillation or sexual encounters. Rather, if all areas of skin are exposed simultaneously, the heat-treatment benefits of a sauna (see below) are at their most effective.
- It is important to remember to bring a bathrobe and sandals, for walking around other areas of the spa, as well as a towel, to sit on whilst you are in the sauna, and soap and shampoo, for the shower that is typically taken after the sauna.
- The average length of time typically spent in a sauna per session is 20-30 minutes, although it is common for people to visit the sauna more than once during a day’s visit to a spa.
What Should You Expect From A German Sauna
Photo from urbansketcher
Saunas are usually inside larger spas with swimming pools and other facilities. The sauna will be a wooden cabin, often with shower facilities and changing rooms close at hand.
Find the changing rooms, and change into your robe and sandals. It is usual to take a shower both before and after a sauna, so, once you are in your robe and sandals, head for the shower, and, once you are feeling freshened up, head from there to the sauna, where there will usually be hooks to hang your robe.
Once in the sauna, spread out your towel on the area of the bench where you intend to sit or lay during your sauna experience.
Saunas and spas are a big part of German culture, and it is normal for people to make a day of a sauna visit, coming and going to and from the sauna, getting something to eat and drink, cooling off, and then heading back into the sauna.
Typically, the average length of time spent in the sauna at any one point is 20-30 minutes, although as mentioned, many Germans, and other Europeans, will re-enter a sauna multiple times during a visit to a spa.
Nudity Makes Me Feel Uncomfortable – How Do I Handle That?
Remember that, in Europe, nudity isn’t considered shameful in the same way it can be in America. Also, Europeans, especially Germans, are much more comfortable around a range of body types, including those not considered typically attractive.
If you are feeling uncertain about being naked in a sauna because of your age, remember that many mainland European countries value older people, and are not unfamiliar with ageing bodies.
If you real don’t feel you can be comfortable being naked, there are some saunas in Germany that do not require full nudity, so it is worth looking into saunas fully, so that you can identify saunas where you will be able to keep some clothing on.
Are German Saunas Hygienic?
As well as the areas where people sit being covered by towels, German saunas are cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis. In addition, high temperatures and steam are naturally cleansing.
There is very limited risk of picking up an illness or infection through using a sauna, and the regime of a pre- and post-sauna shower ensures that every possible precaution has been taken to prevent infection for those using the sauna.
Health Benefits of Using a Sauna
Saunas are a great way to relieve stress
Being a warm, quiet place, along with the soothing benefits of natural warmth, saunas are an excellent natural option for draining the body and mind of stress. Also, they provide the perfect opportunity for low-key socialising. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, socialising is actually made easier when everyone is naked, as people have no pretensions to fall back on or be intimidated by.
Muscle relaxation and soothing aching joints
Heat is a natural form of pain relief. The heat from a sauna encourages the body to release endorphins, which promote natural self-healing.
Sweating out toxins
The most common association with saunas is the concept of sweating out toxins, which goes back to Native and Aboriginal societies, and their traditions of sweat lodges. Thanks to modern temperature control, and specialist fabrics, many people don’t properly sweat. Sweating is one of body’s ways of releasing toxins, which is an important function for optimal health.
Whilst a sauna is not for instant weight loss, regular exposure to hot steam improves the body’s circulation, ensuring all systems are operating at their optimum levels.
Just like a massage, whether traditional or using hot stones, a sauna is a calming experience that almost instantly lifts your mood, as you are removed from the demands and stresses of every day life.
Author: Philip Andrew
A writer and teacher who enjoys lazing around and building winter nests out of duvets. “Most are too itchy. You’ve got to be picky.” His goal is to create a complete home spa for 24/7 access to rest and relaxation. Next on the agenda: a barrel sauna for the garden. Connect with Philip on Twitter @completehomespa.