T ENG 62 BLUE WINGS APRIL 2012 o say that the sauna is essential for Finnish well-being is an understatement: there are currently about 3.2 million public and private saunas in Finland; that's one sauna for every two Finns. In ancient times, the very first saunas were just pits dug in the ground, warm places for people to wash themselves during the winter. Slowly, the sauna has evolved from a basic bathhouse to a modern establishment. It has always been a nourishing place to experience wellness of mind, body and soul and even been said to cure illness. It's a place to relax and rejuvenate. The concept has not really been challenged until now. Tiina Vainio, the founder of sauna yoga THE START OF SOMETHING NEW Sauna yoga is a Finnish wellness trend that gives people a chance to experience a newfound harmony of body and mind in a traditional environment. "Going to the sauna has always been kind of a bathing ritual for the Finns," says Tiina Vainio, the founder of sauna yoga and the author of a new book on the topic. "People bathe either alone or with friends and family in a sauna normally heated to about 70 to 100 degrees Celsius. Sauna yoga is different because it is always practised in a milder temperature; we recommend 55 degrees Celsius." The main focus is to relax the body and mind and just be present in the moment, she says. Vainio was inspired after a session in the quiet room of a London gym. There, she had the realisation that FinA MORE HOLISTIC land was brimming with millions of quiet rooms. Her OUTLOOK ON LIFE IS idea for sauna yoga took form A GROWING TREND. and a year ago she held the first classes. Those who have tried sauna yoga include Canadian author Carl Honoré, one of the founders of the slow movement. To date, there are about 70 trained sauna yoga instructors. Sauna yoga brings instant relief to increasingly busy and stressed peoples' lives. A more holistic outlook is a big trend worldwide and there are growing demands for gentler forms of exercise that help rebalance body and mind. "Modern fitness centres, hotels and spas want to be profiled as wellness destinations. Sauna yoga is a product that meets that demand and suits anyone," says Vainio. The gentle 30-minute sauna yoga routine is based on different yoga styles and performed either in a Warmth helps relax muscles and make the body more limber. regular or infrared sauna. The regime can be adjusted to either relax or empower and consists of six simple poses that are mostly performed sitting down. Suitable for everyone regardless of age, size or level of fitness, practicing requires no previous yoga experience. "The sauna is a quiet space that will bring a fresh dimension even to a very experienced yogi's practise," says Vainio. "The mild heat will provide a new sensation of affection to the body and mind. Many people have said that sauna is a place where it is easy to let go of any worries and experience a powerful sense of just being."
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