As we head into winter, it’s essential to find ways to stay warm. You can always wear cozy clothes, drink mugs of hot tea, hang out by a wood stove, or coerce a cat to hunker down on your lap. You can also consider another way to warm up this winter: saunas. People have sought the healing benefits of sweat for centuries. Thousands of years ago, the Mayans created sweat houses for religious and health purposes. Some Native American tribes relied on sweat lodges to seek wisdom,celebrate, or mourn; a few of these traditions still exist today. In Finland, saunas emerged roughly 10,000 years ago, when they were just holes in the earth covered with animal pelts.
Although the concrete benefits of saunas are still under contention, various studies have found a relationship between sauna use and improved immune function, lower blood pressure, pain relief, heart health, and healthier cholesterol levels. As saunas typically increase heart-rate, those with heart issues should consult with their doctor beforehand.
No matter where the research falls, you don’t need a scientist to tell you that sitting in a sauna is relaxing. It loosens the muscles, calms the mind, and eases tension. It’s also a nice opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and check in with your body.
There’s also nothing quite like a sauna when it comes to bringing people together. Not only do saunas promote body-positivity, but they also encourage conversations with strangers and respect of shared spaces. One thing I personally love about saunas is that they’re an inherently technology-free environment—nobody wants to bring their iPhone into a 150-degree sweat box.There are few phone-free spaces left in the world, and saunas are one of them.
Many studies suggest the benefits of a sauna are best if you use them multiple times a week. If you’re looking for an easy way to relax and detoxify this winter, here are a few local spots where you can sweat it all out.
With a hot and dry sauna in both the women’s and men’s locker rooms, guests can enjoy whatever kind of sweat they desire. Pair a trip to the sauna with a relaxing CBD-oil massage or a detox and renew body treatment wrap for a truly restorative experience. 9565 Semiahmoo Pkwy., Blaine,855.917.3767, semiahmoo.com
Doe Bay Resort & Retreat
The dry sauna at Doe Bay Spa is located next to three outdoor soaking tubs. The private, clothing-optional spa area overlooks beautiful Doe Bay. It’s open seven days a week from 8 a.m.–10 p.m.; family hours run from 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Purchase a day pass or enjoy complimentary access with an overnight reservation at one of the resort’s cabins, yurts,domes, or campsites. 107 Doe Bay Rd., Olga, 360.376.2291, doebay.com
Zazen Salon Spa
Zazen offers an array of spa services and encourages clients to arrive early so they can take advantage of the infrared saunas. These saunas are heated to between 100 and 140 degrees, allowing first-time users to ease in on the low end of the spectrum and veteran sauna users to crank the heat.The salon also has showers so clients can rinse off before their appointment. 11 Bellwether Way, Ste. 201, Bellingham, 360.715.1050, zazensalonspa.com
Internal Harmony Center
This holistic wellness center is dedicated to helping clients feel better. It offers a range of services, including an infrared sauna to promote “natural healing and disease prevention.” Clients can purchase single sessions or packages. 1333 Lincoln St., Ste.2, Bellingham, 360.734.1099, internalharmonycenter.com
The spa at Bellingham Fitness offers a dry sauna as well as a steam room and hot tub. Members can enjoy these amenities post-workout for an extra-cleansing gym experience or just pop in for a quick sweat on a cold day. 1730 N. State St., Bellingham, 360.733.1600, bellinghamfitness.com
Choose between a single-use, full-spectrum infrared sauna or a community Himalayan salt sauna, which incorporates the good-feeling properties of Himalayan salt. The large, co-ed infrared sauna has an entire wall made of Himalayan salt. If you’ve ever spent time near a salt lamp, you know there’s something strangely calming about the soft pink light. 1920 Main St., Ste. 19, Ferndale, 360.393.8829, moveinflowmotion.co
The Spa at The Chrysalis
If you’re planning a massage or facial at The Chrysalis Inn and Spa Bellingham, a Curio Collection by Hilton, be sure to arrive early so you can take full advantage of the eucalyptus steam room.With showers and a relaxation lounge overlooking a pond and waterfall, stress doesn’t stand a chance. 804 10th St., Bellingham, 360.392.5515, curiocollection3.hilton.com
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