Infrared Saunas: The Healing Power of Heat

 © Fernando Zamora/Pixabay
© Fernando Zamora/Pixabay | © Fernando Zamora/Pixabay

During deepest New York winter, a sweltering infrared sauna is a balm for creaky joints and parched skin. But beyond simply feeling fantastic, bathing in infrared rays for 30 minutes has some impressive reputed benefits.

The first time I tried an infrared sauna was in Los Angeles, at Sweatheory—a spa-like space in North Hollywood with private saunas heated by infrared light waves. It had been a long week, testing workouts and Ubering from neighborhood to neighborhood interviewing sources for stories, and when I arrived pain was throbbing in my temples and behind my eyes. Thirty minutes later, after relaxing on my back with my legs elevated up the wooden wall, the pain had vanished. I couldn’t quite fathom how—I assumed the sauna would have the opposite effect what with dehydration etc.—but it worked. I left buzzing.

“A lot of times people think they’re coming to a sauna and they’re going to leave feeling totally wiped out and melted, but you don’t,” explains Joel Granik, founder of Floating Lotus—a wellness center in Midtown Manhattan with a private infrared sauna suite. “You feel very energized afterwards. It heats your insides directly rather than heating you from the outside in. Blood flow and circulation increases a lot more than with a normal sauna because it’s going straight inside you, to your heart, and it gives you that energized feeling.”

Private infrared sauna suite

Granik, who originally opened Floating Lotus so he would have a base for his Chinese medicine practice, uses infrared to compliment acupuncture—putting clients under infrared lamps or booking them sessions in the private sauna post-treatment.

“In Chinese medicine we’re always trying to warm people up and avoid cold. If your body cools down you end up with pain, you end up stagnating and things just aren’t functioning as well as they should be, especially digestion. That’s why you get sick in winter. At this time of year the sauna is constantly busy,” says Granik.

Advocates of infrared saunas say this kind of cellular heating increases metabolic activity, boosts immunity, and flushes toxins from the body through sweat. “Think about it: this is why your body goes into fever conditions when you’re sick—a hotter body increases metabolic activity, kills unwanted intruders, and stimulates the release of toxins,” writes bio-hacker Dave Asprey on his Bulletproof blog.

Thanks to the way it gets your heart pumping, it’s also said to mimic the results of exercise—aiding weight loss, lowering blood pressure, and increasing circulation. The heat helps ease pain in joints and muscles, and may help with respiratory conditions like asthma. Add to that the results of a study which found that infrared light treatments showed “efficacy and safety for skin rejuvenation and intradermal collagen increase when compared with controls” and it begins to feel like regular sessions ought to be a part of everybody’s wellness regimen—provided they can spare $65 for a 30-minute sweat every week.

So what should you expect during your first infrared sauna experience? You might not feel the heat as intensely as a dry sauna initially, but that doesn’t mean it’s not sweltering in there. Granik suggests making your first session a short one, or alternating between 10 minutes in the sauna and a short break outside. Hydration is, of course, key, so make sure you bring a bottle of water with you and, if you want to increase the zen, download an inspiring podcast like On Being or Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article