Infrared saunas are currently in vogue, and for good reason, says DOSE writer Charlotte.
Saunas may seem like just another relaxing-but-not-particularly-effective element of a spa day, but when it comes to the infrared kind, you can think again. The practice used as a means of healing goes back to Japan in the 1960s, and the premise is pretty simple. The key difference to a regular sauna is that a regular sauna uses heat to warm a room, while infrared saunas use light to create heat, which then truly penetrates the body.
Good Vibes yoga room was the first FAR infrared heated yoga space in Europe, seriously upping your yoga practice. Its founder Nahid de Belgeonne tells me, “far infrared heat doesn’t heat the air; it heats your body. This critical difference means that the infrared heat creates a thermal effect in the deep layers of your tissues, which has been proven to be very beneficial.”
While infrared saunas reach lower temperatures than regular saunas (they stay at around 49 degrees celsius, compared to 70-100 celsius in a regular sauna,) this means you’re able to comfortably spend longer in it, really reaping the benefits. And the benefits are multifold, ranging from muscle relaxation and improved blood flow to reported weight loss and better sleep.
Glow Bar on Mortimer Street has individual sauna pods downstairs. Its founder Sasha Sabapathy says one benefit of infrared saunas is for the skin. They are able to “stimulate collagen production, healing your skin from the surface and offering more long term skin benefits,” she says, and Josh Harka, float specialist at Yue Float, agrees, saying that an infrared sauna is useful for the “clearing of pores, improving quality of skin.”
An infrared sauna is incredibly relaxing, which is good news for the body. It’s to do with reducing stress hormones, Sasha says – “infrared saunas have been proven to release endorphins in your brain, helping to lower cortisol levels.” This causes the body to relax, and Josh says infrared saunas work to lower high blood pressure, which may be correlated to this.
He goes on to cite a recent study: “it found that using the sauna two to three times per week was associated with 24 per cent lower all-cause mortality and four to seven times per week decreased all-cause mortality by 40 per cent.” However, don’t take this at face value – other factors always play a part with such studies.
While it’s certainly not uncommon to leave an infrared sauna with limbs feeling looser and reduced stiffness, not to mention lighter as a result of sweating, the claims that proponents make about infrared saunas are extreme and have often been questioned by the medical community. These include the notions that infrared saunas promote weight loss and are able to remove heavy metals such as mercury from the body. So by all means, get your infrared sweat on. It is broadly agreed to be good for you, but don’t buy into the claim that it’s a miracle cure, either.
Here’s where you can get your infrared fix in London:
Charlotte is a London girl through and through. She sweats through spin and puffs through Pilates to justify trying the latest restaurants and devouring copious amounts of sweet potato fries, burrata and bread – preferably on holiday. Her favourite destinations include Italy, the Maldives and anywhere where the sun’s shining and there’s a strong breakfast buffet. She’s obsessed with walking, visiting farmers’ markets and reading. She’s also learning to cook. Wish her (and her husband) luck.