Traditional Sauna in Latvia
In most of the Nordic and Baltic countries there are different varieties of the sauna culture and how it has been used throughout the ages. Many of the old traditions are still very much alive, and in Latvia I tried out a traditional sauna treatment, or Sauna spa, in a small cabin located in the woods of the Latgale region.
SAUNA CULTURE WITH DEEP ROOTS
It used to be common in Latvia that every farm would have their own sauna, and depending on the occasion it was used for, there were different rituals. They would usually use steam which you get by pouring water over the hot rocks in the sauna, and they would also use branches from different trees and plants in their rituals.
I tested a classic bathing ritual which lasted three hours with five different stages to the treatment. 3 hours in a sauna may sound like a lot but it was all completed in sections with several pauses outside the sauna in between each stage.
I had my own sauna therapist who was in charge of the whole séance. She got the sauna ready before I started and followed me through all the stages in the ritual. The sauna was 80-85 degrees Celsius, and they had already put out bouquets of different branches on the benches when I arrived. The first stage of the treatment was to warm up my body and relax my muscles. This was completed with me lying on the bench with branches under my head and as a cover over my face, while the therapist sprinkled water using branches over my body from time to time.
After some relaxation and getting my body nice and warm it was time for a break from the steam and the heat. To keep the hydration level in place and to cleanse my body I was served herbal tea and fresh water in between all stages. It was very nice to sit with the views of the forest and the trees and just enjoy!
The second part of the treatment consisted of being whipped with the branches. This is done to increase blood flow and to increase the effect of the sauna, herbal tea and branches since the branches themselves have an aroma therapeutic effect.
The third part of the treatment consisted of a salt scrub to get rid of the dead skin cells, and in between the two last sauna stages, in addition to getting served hot herbal tea, I also went for a refreshing swim in the lake nearby.
The last part of the sauna treatment was completed with my therapist singing and humming traditional tunes while giving me a massage, and that was a very relaxing and unique experience.
After spending almost 3 hours with different sauna treatment stages, lots of delicious herbal tea with local honey and a refreshing swim in the lake, I was very relaxed and had reduced my stress level significantly. I felt that my body was completely restarted and as if I had been cleansed on the inside and on the outside.
If you would like to experience a classic Latvian sauna treatment, places all over Latvia are offering this. My visit was at the Veselibas Sala, a small inn with a few cabins for rent located in the idyllic Latgale region of Latvia
The cultural road trip i took in Latvia was done as a collaboration between NordicTB and Latvia Tourism as a part of the #LatviaRoadtrip campaign. All opinions and meanings is as always completely my own.