Inside the infrared sauna that claims to deliver health benefits
Christmas, New Year and Tet have all come and gone. The holiday season is now well and truly over. As most people can relate to, I overindulged in honor of the festive spirit and now I needed to detox and cleanse stat. So, a chance to visit a newly-opened infrared sauna here in Saigon called Aura & Co (21/1 Duong So 46, Thao Dien, D2; www.auraandco.com.vn) was a Godsend. Infrared saunas are the latest craze in Hollywood, Gywnetth Paltrow promoted them on GOOP, Jennifer Aniston apparently has one installed at her house, and Cindy Crawford and Lady Gaga are both self-confessed fans. There are many health claims to using it: detoxification, clearer skin, producing a natural high to name a few. I was looking forward to seeing exactly what all the hype was about.
On my first visit I was greeted my Ian and Oanh who run the wellness clinic together. What immediately caught my attention was their flawless skin, one of the many benefits I read about online. Ian had started using the Sunlighten infrared saunas back in 2012 in his homeland of sunny Australia, where he fell in love with the treatments and its benefits and began using it regularly.
Ian tells me he left his job in Australia to explore new opportunities in Southeast Asia, and after spending eight months in Indonesia he settled down in Saigon. Despite being manufactured in Binh Duong, Ian couldn’t find Sunlighten saunas in any spas or wellness centers in Vietnam. And seeing the gap in the market, he filled it with Aura & Co.
I was curious to find out how an infrared sauna was different to the traditional hot rock and steam saunas, which I find to be anxiety inducing because of the overwhelming heat andhumidity in them. A Sunlighten sauna is different as I found out.
Infrared saunas differ from traditional ones in that the heat comes from infrared light waves generated by lamps that heat your body, not the surrounding air. As a result, you can stay inside longer, 45 minutes is an ideal session and you also have a deeper, more intense sweat than in a traditional sauna. In a regular sauna,10 to 20 minutes is the generally recommended time to stay in.
I’ve been told that a deep sweat can help cleanse the skin, soothe sore muscles or simply relax you. Sweating in a sauna can also be beneficial to patients with arthritis, asthma or respiratory infections, and is an effective way to help recover from overindulgence in food or drink. The sweating rids the body of excess sodium and other unwanted substances. It also helps eliminate drugs and some toxins, and by doing so can take some of the workload off the liver and kidneys.
I prepared for the infrared sauna by removing all makeup, ensuring my skin was free from lotions (I wanted to give myself the best chance of detoxing), hydrated myself and went in. I noticed it wasn’t hot, it was warm inside but not in an uncomfortable way. Already feeling more at ease, I flicked through Netflix, put on a movie and settled in. About 20 minutes had gone by, still feeling very comfortable and relaxed, I looked down and noticed a deep sweat happening. This was a pleasant surprise as I wasn’t feeling overheated, once the 45 minutes was up, I left the spa feeling noticeably relaxed and refreshed.
Five sessions within a seven-day period is the ideal amount of time to experience some of the many benefits of an infrared sauna, however, after my third session my skin was starting to look considerable clearer—the holiday toxins were last year’s problems now. In addition, I left each session feeling very calm. I am a naturally anxious person, so finding something that I really enjoyed and helped to alleviate my anxiety was amazing. It wasn’t only the deep sweat and detoxing, it was also 45 minutes of uninterrupted time: No phone, no checking emails and no mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. I was completely relaxed and cut off from the world for 45 wonderful minutes.
Images Provided by Aura & Co