The Power of Heat: Sauna, Hot/Cold Hydrotherapy, Teas & Salt Baths
The perfect yin-yang balance of relaxation and invigoration
The days are getting more and more chilly. You feel it in your bones. And after a long day at work, the thing you crave the most is a nice hot something. What is it about the power of heat that heals?
Well, for one thing, heat increases fascial tissue elasticity. Your fascial tissue is a network of thin connective tissue, sometimes just a few cells thick, that wrap around each muscle fiber bundle, as well as the muscle itself. Connective tissue connects muscles to bones, muscle to muscle, and it is even found in your bones and around your joints. Imagine this entire network of fascial tension melting away in a hot bath, a steam or sauna. Heat increases your blood flow in general, including bloodflow to painful areas, bringing in more nutrients and flushing out toxins built up through the day. Heat also promotes faster healing by temporarily stimulating your natural metabolic rate.
When you've been out in the cold, you can literally feel your muscles and tissues tense and contract, attempting to warm and protect your all-important core organs. That is a lot of force! When you treat yourself to a sauna, a bath, or even some nice hot tea, the opposite happens. There is a sense of expansion, of spreading warmth, of letting go. Chinese Medicine calls this a yang movement – your qi or life force spreads out, allowing space for stagnant energy and toxins to exit via sweat and breath. This is a good thing.
The secret not everyone knows
After a hot treatment, you must balance it out with a cold treatment. The yang must be harmonized with yin. According to Chinese and Naturopathic medicine, this is of utmost importance to bring yourself back into your body, for feeling solid and whole again. After you sauna, as crazy as it might sound, the best thing you can do for yourself is to do a quick cold plunge or shower. Ask anyone who as done it, and they will tell you it feels invigorating! It's a rush of energy and vitality that stays with you. Much better than those nasty energy drinks. After toxins have been released through sweat and breath, the cold treatment closes your pores, pulls the blood back into your core organs and reinforces your natural defense system. Doing a hot/cold treatment leaves you feeling alive, fresh, and full of vitality. You actually lose less heat, boost your circulation, stay warmer longer and protect your vital organ functionality. When you expand and let go with heat therapy without grounding and pulling it back in with cold therapy, you may feel relaxed, warm and cozy, but it may also take longer for your to recoup your strength since you have been slowly and surely release precious energy and vitality.
A Hawaiian Bath Extravaganza
That is why, at the Grand Wailea on Maui [http://www.marinmagazine.com/Blogs/January-2013/Hawaiian-Salt-Baths-at-the-Grand-Wailea/], you'll see that in addition to the amazing rainbow colored salt baths that include exotic flavors like green papaya and volcanic clay, you will also find a few options for cold plunges and showers. Those Hawaiians know what they're doing!
We always encourage travel to invigorate the soul [link to http://www.ammonista.com/archive/2013/12/19/the-importance-of-elsewhere], but until your next trip to the Hawaiian islands, you can help yourself to a home-spa hot/cold therapy experience with the following simple recipe. And of course, we always have a fresh fuzzy white robe, soft towels and a pot of tea waiting for you at Root – our sauna is always hot!
Green Tea Bath for Antioxidant and Detoxification.
- relieves body aches and pains
- soothing for rashes, contributes to faster wound healing
- vitamin B in green tea softens skin
- minerals help skin retain flexibility and helps flush out toxins
How to prepare:
- make sure it's been a few hours since you've eaten. A full stomach and hot bath do not go together
- drink plenty of water during and after
- put 5 or more tea bags into your bath with the water running
- swirl, ensuring water is not too hot (or it will dehydrate your skin). Your bath water will change color.
- add Epson salts or jasmine flowers if you wish.
And don't forget to re-invigorate afterwards with a cold treatment! Otherwise, you may continue to expand and 'leak' out essential core energies and feel more tired than before your bath.