Written by Emma-Charlotte Bangay
When it comes to beauty and wellness, I love extremes. Give me 90 minutes of Bikram Yoga during a splintering hot summer day or a mid-winter bodysurf session that takes my breath away. So when I ventured into infrared sauna territory – a heated bed believed to heal many ailments – it was a no brainer.
So, What Is An Infrared Sauna?
Experts say that infrared light can penetrate human tissue and get to the core of pain and nasty skin conditions. I’ve heard plenty of anecdotes of psoriasis sufferers finding instant – and long-term – calm from regular infrared sauna visits. Then there’s the friend of a friend of a friend (you know the one) who had a shoulder reconstruction, leaving her with debilitating pain. What endless rehab could not fix, twice-weekly infrared saunas did. Naturally found in sunlight, infrared offers a safe and controlled distribution, without any UVA or UVB ray damage so – even though I had neither ailment nor eczema break out – I was keen to give this new health kick a go.
If nothing else, the fact that infrared saunas activate sweat composed of 20% toxins versus the 3% produced by a traditional sauna had me hooked. Let’s clear these pores people!
My Infrared Sauna Experience
Feeling notably tender after a long week doing the work/life two-step, I was ready for some rejuvenation. Once I arrived at The Orchard Prahran, I was shown into the small, tranquil room and talked through the process. I would disrobe and sidle on into the sauna for a half hour sweat session.
The minute I reclined and secured the sliding bed cover over me, I reached a new level of chill. And that says a lot for a women who had just downed her daily short black. Oops.
Described to me as ‘a big long warm hug’, the infrared sauna immediately felt like just that. I felt safe, toasty and very, very relaxed.
However, it wasn’t long before I got a bit twitchy. I like to move and earn every bead of sweat – whether it be through a Bikram session or a speedy run around the block – so lying back and sweating became something I got fixated on, when I was supposed to remain unplugged.
I found it hard to switch off entirely but I have to say, pushing through this physically and mentally without escaping the sauna – which you can do at any time – was in itself a challenge I accepted and rose to. It took willpower and a conscious mindset to remain still and stay in there, so getting through that brought mental clarity and achievement.
The thirty minutes seemed to fly by. Although I hadn’t nodded off completely, my joints felt rubbery and my skin had a lovely sensation to it.
This must have been due to the increased circulation infrared saunas stimulate. I had also been told that people visit them to lose weight, increase blood flow to muscles, reduce pain levels (of up to nearly 70% in the first session it’s promised) and the alleviate inflammation and swelling.
You can have a shower after an infrared sauna or simply pat yourself off depending on how much you sweat.
Would I Infrared Again?
Well, maybe. My skin was freaking amazing afterwards: flush, youthful and super radiant. But when it comes to the wellbeing benefits, the best sweats are hard won by me, and come with a side serve of shortness of breath and post-exercise endorphins. So the infrared sauna experience was up there with massage and facials; a delicious indulgence but not a necessity. Having said that, if I did have any muscle or joint kinks or a painful itch I just couldn’t scratch, I’d definitely get my kit off and let the heat do its thing before reaching for the pain killers or cortisone cream.
Where I went: The Orchard Prahran