Achieving Mind Body Balance: The Role of Infrared Saunas in Stress Reduction

Infrared Saunas for Stress Reduction

While just about everyone would enjoy the indulgent heat from an infrared sauna, they aren’t just good for warming up tired muscles. Along with the myriad of benefits for your body, infrared saunas can also support your mental health, resulting in a better mind body balance. The mental benefits stem from physiological processes that are triggered in your body by the heat, making your sauna sessions a wonderful opportunity to take a break from daily life to heal your mind as well as your body. 

Understanding Infrared Technology

Infrared saunas operate differently from conventional steam saunas. A steam room uses hot water over coals or hot rocks to generate heat. With this method, it’ll increase the room's ambient temperature overall. However, this method can be too intense for people with heart concerns, asthma or irregular blood pressure due to the steam and temperature. 

By contrast, infrared saunas don’t heat the room around you, rather, they heat your body directly. This is achieved with far infrared light that’s generated by carbon fibre panels, which you experience as heat. It isn’t on the visible spectrum, but you’ll feel it as soon as you step into your sauna. It can penetrate much more deeply into your tissues, and the carbon fibre panels are strategically placed below neck level to avoid targeting your head. 

Another factor that improves the functionality of an infrared sauna in contrast with a steam room is that you have precise control over the temperature. Our one-person sauna will allow you to set it anywhere between 30-75℃, and you can set a timer so it’ll switch off after a certain period of time. Not only does this increase the overall safety, but makes for a more relaxing experience where you can simply walk in, enjoy the heat and walk out once your sauna switches off.

Deep Tissue Relaxation and Detoxification

There are two main factors that contribute to tissue relaxation and detoxification when you use an infrared sauna, both of which are caused by the heat. The first is just how deeply the infrared light can penetrate your subcutaneous tissue. It can get up to 3cm into your muscles, making for a far deeper sense of relaxation. 

The second factor is how intense the heat is. Heat is a wonderful aid in increasing blood flow, helping to release tension from strained muscles. While infrared saunas can be made hotter than steam rooms, they’re still a comfortable temperature to relax in due to the more direct far-infrared light source that delivers muscle warming effects rather than steam heating the whole room. This potent heat also induces sweating, which helps to promote detoxification from the body. 

The Sauna Experience: A Meditation Opportunity

If you’d like to focus more wholly on relaxing your mind during your sauna sessions, there are a few things you can do to increase the ambience. You can combine as many senses as you’d like in your meditation, depending on how you’d like to cultivate your mind-body connection. The first is choosing the right temperature. It should be comfortable enough that you’re warm but not so hot that it’s distracting. Depending on your personal preferences, we recommend somewhere between 35℃ and 45℃. 

With so much external noise and stimulus in our day to day lives, it can be more challenging to switch off when it’s totally silent, so having something to listen to can help, particularly in your earlier sessions. For saunas with Bluetooth capabilities, you could pair your session with a guided meditation to listen to or choose a frequency of music you find calming. 

Whether you’re looking to feel more energised or want to cultivate more calm in your life, incorporating chromotherapy into your meditation can enhance your experience. Blue and green can help alleviate stress and increase the overall relaxation of your sauna session. For a mood boost and some more energy, yellow, red and orange are wonderful options. Finally, we recommend purple as the ultimate choice in meditation, increasing the mind-body connection. 

If you’d also like to incorporate taste and smell, you could take in an iced tea to help keep you cool. Herbs like peppermint, lavender or hibiscus are wonderful additions to an iced tea blend. To add to the atmosphere with aromatherapy, bring in a dish with some essential oil that can gradually evaporate during your meditation session. 

Hormonal Response: Lowering Cortisol and Enhancing Endorphins

Heat can help relax your body during your sauna session, and have longer-term benefits on your stress levels when you use an infrared sauna on a regular basis. The physiological reason behind this is that heat exposure is a type of healthy stress for your body to experience in short intervals. It’s essentially the equivalent of a 30-minute holiday to a sunny location. This heat-induced stress is referred to as hermetic stress. It helps to regulate how your body responds to stress on a daily basis and can actually increase the amount of stress you can comfortably handle. 

Infrared therapy for stress relief also helps encourage your body to release endorphins. These are the same hormones that you get when you exercise, contributing to a feeling of euphoria. They can also help alleviate stress and offer some pain relief that pairs well with the physical benefits of the heat. 

Complementary Therapies to Pair with Infrared Saunas

While you can experience significant stress reduction with infrared saunas alone, they’re also wonderful to pair with other therapies. One of the most popular combinations is contrasting the relaxing heat of a sauna with the invigorating cold of an ice bath. Going from the heat to the cold can help stimulate your immune system and increase your endorphin levels and blood flow. 

If you’re working towards gaining greater fitness and want a workout that promotes a mind-body balance at the same time, reformer Pilates is the perfect choice. Pilates will help you gain greater body awareness thanks to its strong focus on breath work, balance and slow, precise movements. You can then follow your workout with a relaxing session in the sauna for more holistic stress management. 

If you’re ready to experiment with some new stress relief methods, the team at Kiva Wellness are more than happy to help you choose the right options for you. You can contact us anytime with your questions or to get a personal recommendation, whether that’s for a sauna, ice bath or Pilates reformer.