While we have talked about the benefits of Russian banya in several different articles elsewhere on the Banya No.1 – Chiswick blog, we thought that it would be a great idea to discuss all the main benefits together for those perhaps visiting us for the first time.
There are a good number of health benefits of banya, both physical and mental, as the banya experience does not just affect the body. A good spa experience improves both the body and mind and while sauna benefits vary from person to person, you will almost certainly experience some of all of the following when you have a session or two at Banya No.1 – Chiswick.
Of course, as will anything that is good for you, it’s not just about the one-off experience; regular use of the banya means that the effects are multiplied. As with any exercise or treatment, making it a regular habit benefits you far more than the odd occasional visit.
Banya means different things to different people – so the only way to discover the health benefits of banya for you is to try it for yourself. But one thing everyone agrees on – the banya experience is well worth it.
One of the main health benefits of banya is the boost to your immune system. When you enter the steam room at Banya No.1, your body temperature starts to rise and you begin to sweat (more on this later).
But when you leave the steam, the next step is to douse yourself in ice-cold water, before taking a dip in our plunge pool.
This rapid fluctuation in temperature triggers the immune response in your body and floods you with white blood cells, which are there to combat disease and anything else that shouldn’t be in your system. This sudden surge in self-generated healing power is why a banya experience is so good if you are starting to come down with a cold or flu – this natural immune system boost is just what you need to stave off the illness and get back to 100% health in the quickest time.
Repeating this process three or even four times each session is the best way to use a spa experience to combat illness and keep yourself fit and healthy.
As mentioned, time spent in the steam room in a Russian banya increases body temperature. One of the first effects this has is to raise your heart rate, and thus your blood circulation.
As well as being good exercise for your heart – a session in a banya steam room is roughly akin to walking a treadmill – it’s a good physical workout for you. So you are getting some cardio benefits just by sitting still. And, at the same time, this also increases oxygen delivery around your body, due to the increased blood flow, so benefits all areas of your body as well.
Of course, it is important to point out that a banya experience is not a replacement for physical exercise – but it is an excellent addition. It can also help in other ways when taken after an exercise session (see Muscle Recovery, below).
And while your blood circulation rises during the steam bath, so it lowers again when you cool off in the plunge pool. In fact, this sudden drop in temperature, although brief, suddenly constricts your blood vessels, helping your heart rate to return to normal. It is these sudden contrasts in temperature that can strengthen your cardiovascular system – improving artery and vein elasticity and strengthening your heart. This in turn can improve your blood circulation, and can even lower your blood pressure.
It is necessary here to be clear that if you currently have blood pressure issues – especially high blood pressure or other blood circulation issues – then always seek professional medical advice before booking a banya session.
Another of the great benefits of Russian banya is how it can aid muscle recovery after intensive exercise or even injury.
After a decent workout session at the gym, a banya experience is one of the fastest ways you can recover and avoid much of the stiffness, aches and pains that you usually get.
This is partly due to the detox factor (see below) but also because the warmth of the Russian banya softens and stretches the muscle tissues. The heat helps by making your muscle fibres more elastic, helping heal muscle recovery.
There is much anecdotal evidence from people who have even used a banya experience to help them with conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism symptoms.
Athletes now often use heat/cold treatments, such as a Russian banya, as a part of their regular training schedule, to help stay healthy and aid muscle recovery.
Detox can be an important part of a healthy regime.
Detox is a natural body process where the body removes toxins from cells in the body and expels them – often through the skin by sweating.
A team bath is a great way to aid the detox process as it promotes sweating and thus the removal of toxins from the body. The more you sweat, the more toxins can be removed.
This is why a steam bath, such as a Russian banya, is a useful aid for muscle recovery – stiffness and pain from exercise comes from the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles as you train. The lactic acid can be removed from the muscles and body via a detox – ie. a steam bath.
This detox, in conjunction with the heat working on your muscle recovery, is one of the many sauna benefits to the body.
For some, healthy skin is a surprisingly unexpected health benefit of banya. Yet healthy skin is another of thebenefits of Russian banya.
Time in a steam room or sauna helps bring the blood flow to the surface before sweating commences, which helps oxygenate the layers as well as improve elasticity.
After a session in a banya, your skin will feel amazing and you may even achieve the much sought-after “glow” that so many banya customers experience!
And again – as already mentioned – sweating is a process of detox, which removes dirt and toxins from your skin pores. The heat of the steam room opens your pores, and once finished, the plunge pool closes them down again.
You can also take your healthy skin regime to the next level with a Parenie treatment at Banya No.1. Parenie is a leafy-bundle massage in the heat of the steam room, and will leave your skin feeling like it never has before! Parenie is one treatment that everybody deserves for their body!
We all want to burn fat (well, most of us, if we are being honest), and there are indications that a Banya can help.
We lose weight in two ways in a banya or sauna, which do aid weight loss.
Firstly – we will lose some pounds through sweating, but it is important to note that this is water loss and, for the most part, will be replaced as soon as we rehydrate.
However, in addition, there is also the ‘workout effect’, which as discussed above, is the fact that sitting in a steam room puts the body under the same stresses as a treadmill workout. And while this is not a replacement for exercise, it is nice to think that one of the benefits of Russian banya is the fact that we are exercising our metabolism and thus helping our weight loss achievements, all while sitting and relaxing, enjoying the steam.
Aside from the physical benefits, the health benefits of banya also extend to our minds as well.
Many cultures see sauna as a way to reduce stress and relax. According to one recent study, a sauna or steam room session can reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) in our body by as much as 10-40%.
Taken regularly, a steam bath is a great way of controlling and limiting the stress we experience in our day-to-day lives.
This is particularly true of the banya experience, as it is usually conducted socially. Whilst it is perfectly fine (and still very beneficial) to banya alone, a banya is supposed to be experienced as a social activity, with family or friends. Taking time out for social interaction is something we often lose touch with amidst our busy schedules, and we forget how relaxing and de-stressing social time is.
Take some time out to visit a banya; at Banya No.1, each session comes with a personal booth where you can relax with your friends after your treatment, and enjoy some great food and drink.
With relaxation comes another benefit – you improve sleep habits and find your nights are more restful.
Sometimes, people leave a banya experience thinking that it has made them tired, but this is not true – it has, instead, made them relaxed. But again, with the way we live our lives today, it is easy to forget what true relaxation feels like.
Making a banya experience a part of your regular routine will reintroduce you to quality sleep and proper rest at night – it can also help to still your mind.
You may even see customers sometimes meditating in the steam bath – as they find it the perfect place to focus and let go of the cares of the outside world.
Why banya is good for your mood? For all the reasons we have listed above – relaxation, better sleep, stillness of mind.
But on top of that (and those are some pretty good benefits, we are sure you’ll agree), a great health benefit of banya is that it releases endorphins into your system.
Endorphins are the “happy hormone” that is released, among other times, when you exercise. And since a banya session is physically the same as a workout, your body releases endorphins into your system and your mood is lifted!
This is fantastic for mental health and many find a visit to a Russian banya can help with all kinds of challenges that their mental health faces, often on a day-to-day basis.
To conclude, then, the health benefits of banya are both physical and mental.
Not only do you feel great physically after a session, but your skin glows and mentally you feel amazing too! So what is not to like?
To find out for yourself what a banya experience can do for you – book a session today at Banya No.1 – Chiswick.
Just start with a basic 3-hour session (including your own booth in our relaxation lounge) or take a look at our package bundles and add any treatments you love.