Sauna bathing and meditation are the perfect additions to any wellness routine. Can they be combined to save time and double down on the relaxation?
Using an infrared sauna while meditating is both the safest and most effective practice due to more comfortable humidity/heat levels. Methods such as transcendental meditation, focused meditation, and progressive relaxation can be done inside. Opt for a less-crowded sauna to limit interruptions and allow for a deep meditative state to be reached.
Continue ready to discover if the sauna is a good place to meditate, which type of sauna is most appropriate for meditation, and some practical tips for performing this ritual.
Is the sauna a good place to meditate?
When you think about meditation, your mind often wanders to a state of blissfulness, without interruption. Saunas are typically very relaxing, but are they good places to meditate?
A personal sauna is the perfect spot for meditation; the serene environment and warm temperature make it a great place to relax your muscles and incorporate breathing exercises. Public saunas can also be a suitable place, as long as they aren’t crowded and cluttered with conversation.
The tricky part of using a gym or other shared sauna for meditation is that you never know who’s going to walk through the door and possibly interrupt your session.
Your best bet is to pick a time when the sauna won’t be busy. Adding in breathing exercises, like the Wim Hof Method or Box Breathing Method, are also great techniques to strengthen your respiratory system and calm your central nervous system.
A contradictory theory indicates that the high temperatures of a sauna can be stressful on your body and mind, thus preventing you from entering into a true meditative state.
Just be sure to not lose track of time, as you shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes inside of a sauna before conditions can get dangerous!
Meditating in a traditional dry sauna
Traditional dry saunas are by far the most commonly used sauna. They’re especially popular in gyms and other wellness centers.
Meditating inside a traditional sauna will likely make breathing difficult due to the high temperature and low humidity. However, as long as your meditation session is kept under 15 minutes, it can be a good option.
As with any sauna, you want to make sure you’re seated, with your back against the wall. This will make for the most comfortable position and limit the risk of injury.
Can you meditate in an infrared sauna?
Infrared saunas are your least humid option.
With virtually 0% humidity, infrared saunas are the most suitable option for meditation practices. You can spend upwards of 20 minutes inside and breathe more comfortably compared to the other sauna types.
An especially beneficial aspect of an infrared sauna is that most come with different room lighting options that make for an especially relaxing atmosphere.
Green is cooling, helping to relax muscle tension and reduce joint pain. Blue is calming, perfect for those who are susceptible to headaches, and red does wonders for the aging process and skin appearance. Pick the color fit for your desired outcome!
Can you meditate in a steam room?
Steam rooms are, well, steamy.
The added levels of moisture in a steam room make them the least enjoyable choice for meditation. Not only will it feel harder to breathe inside, but the beads of water and sweat rolling down your body may make it difficult to slip into a state of mindfulness.
If a steam room is your only option, make sure to sit on a towel. That way, you won’t be slipping around while seated.
How to meditate in the sauna
There are several different methods for meditating- all of which can be done in the sauna!
Here are the 5 best types of meditation for the sauna:
- Transcendental meditation
- Mindfulness meditation
- Focused meditation
- Progressive relaxation
- Movement meditation
We’ll get more granular below.
Transcendental meditation is a practice that was created by an ancient Hindu yoga guru named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Transcendental meditation involves repeating a silent mantra to yourself for 15-20 minutes with your eyes closed. The word or phrase can be self-chosen and is used to focus your energy during the ritual. Recorded benefits include blood pressure reduction, anxiety and stress relief, and overall improvement in quality of life.
According to official guidelines, to become proficient at this method, you must take a 7-step course from a certified teacher. However, many people have mastered this type of meditation without guidance.
This can be done 1-2x per day and is easily performed in a sauna.
While most types of meditation aim to restructure your thoughts, mindfulness meditation encourages you to face them head-on.
Mindfulness meditation allows the practitioner to become highly aware of their mind, body, and overall consciousness. Instead of trying to push thoughts away, instead, let them run freely. Some forms of mindfulness meditation involve a guided aspect or imagery creation.
The idea is to train ourselves to not run away from the negative, but rather acknowledge and move on. It’s a healthy way of learning to manage the obstacles that may lie ahead and has been shown to reduce long-term stress.
Focused meditation is slightly different than mindfulness meditation.
This method requires you to focus your attention on different senses – for example, to be aware of sounds, sights, tastes, smells, breathing, and other sensations. The main goal is to pick an item and be fully present while experiencing all that it has to offer.
This type of mediation is more concerned with the feeling itself and less concerned with the actual surrounding thoughts.
This type of meditation is all about your body.
Progressive relaxation involves releasing tension in your body. To do this, you clench one muscle group at a time and release, slowly moving through each one. The best way to do this is to start at the top of your head and make your way down to your toes.
This is the perfect type of meditation to practice at night!
Last but not least, movement meditation seems counterintuitive, but it’s actually a great way to practice mindfulness.
Believe it or not, you can move while meditating. This kind of meditation could involve walking or even controlled exercises. The most effective way to practice this inside of a sauna is by stretching or moving into different yoga poses.
Movement meditation allows one to develop body awareness.
Meditation tips for the sauna
Now that we know what types of meditation are ideal for the sauna environment, are there any specific tips?
Here are 5 recommendations for how to meditate in the sauna:
- Incorporate sound
- Add aromatherapy
- Find a quiet sauna
- Set a timer
Let’s see what each of these has to offer.
There are several different ways to interpret this tip.
You can bring a small, durable speaker inside to play a guided meditation or listen to a relaxing soundscape to help set the mood.
Sometimes adding the sound of the ocean is better than mindfulness in silence.
To add another layer of wellness, drop essential oils into your sauna’s rock reservoir.
The best aromatherapy scents for meditation include:
Lavender is a well-known relaxation scent, while frankincense is less common today, but was used for centuries in ancient meditation culture. Finally, chamomile provides stress relief for your muscles and your mind.
Find a quiet sauna
We touched on this briefly above, but limiting distractions is of the utmost importance when meditating.
Personal saunas are preferable, although we understand not everyone has access to this type of luxury. Be sure to visit a public sauna during a less busy time so you can guarantee limited interruptions.
There are even sauna-only wellness centers that offer single stalls (similar to a tanning bed setup) for added privacy.
Set a timer
Sometimes you can get lost in a trance – literally!
Setting a timer or stopwatch in the sauna will prevent you from overstaying your welcome or even falling asleep by mistake.
This way, you won’t be tempted to open your eyes to check the time or risk personal injury.
This is an important step every time you enter the sauna, with meditation or not.
Hydrating before meditating in the sauna is increasingly important because you may be utilizing more focus and redirecting blood to other parts of the body. Drink at least a glass of water before and another after your session to ensure you stay hydrated.
While fainting is rare, you’re still at risk.
As long as you follow the recommendations above, meditating while in the sauna is a perfectly acceptable practice. It may even allow you to practice mindfulness more effectively!