Infrared Sauna Therapy: The Magical Treatment You Need To Try
Imagine 45 minutes of stillness and warmth, lying in a cosy cocoon, feeling your body heating up but feeling deeply relaxed. We sent Christine next door to The Olive Tree to give it a go.
Infrared sauna therapy is a form of electromagnetic energy, with wavelengths longer than that of visible light. Infrared is one of the invisible light rays emitted by the sun, but unlike UV rays, infrared is completely safe (so safe, in fact, that infrared is used to keep newborn babies warm in hospital). The heat is absorbed deeply into the body, raising the internal temperature and triggering a cleansing sweat that eliminates toxins.
Paula Fortier, MA wellbeing therapist, offers infrared sauna therapy at The Olive Tree in Haslemere. She also is trained in massage therapy, counselling and Mayan healing. She welcomed me warmly and we discussed the session while I filled in the information form. She explained that the infrared sauna heats the body from within, so the air temperature stays at a comfortable 40°-50°C outside while my body warms considerably internally.
Benefits of infrared therapy are numerous, and studies are supporting and discovering more information and as the practice increases worldwide. Physically, it detoxes the body through sweating, increases blood circulation, lowers blood pressure, improves cardio health and provides muscle and joint pain relief. It is also said to boost the immune system, help to clear and smooth skin and improve sleep.
The infrared sauna itself is a long, dome-like piece of grey equipment set atop a raised therapy bed. In addition to the infrared, the sauna offers colour light therapy that can enhance the treatment. The equipment can be completely customised, with controls for the mattress pad and the upper and lower sections of the dome.
Paula explained that the heat often induces a sweat, so I may choose to leave any or all clothing on the chair beside the table. She left me for a few moments to climb onto the bed and slide the tunnel over my body – the sauna covers from the neck down.
The equipment itself wasn’t overly clinical in appearance, and I found it comfortingly enveloping. The exterior is covered in a soft grey material, and inside is a cosy fabric, with a mattress made of memory foam. My body settled easily and stayed contentedly still for the length of my treatment.
Paula returned and set the sauna for 30 minutes at a moderate heat – being my first session, I didn’t want to dive straight in to a hot, sweaty treatment! Paula helpfully suggested the times and heat settings that would suit me best for this visit.
What resonated with me was my personal involvement in Paula’s treatment. From the start, she explained the treatment thoroughly, then invited my thoughts and feedback. I didn’t simply show up and have therapy performed on me, I was encouraged to take part in selecting the heat temperature, the length of time I’d spend in the sauna, and any other treatments I would like during my time.
Paula’s approach to therapy is the culmination of years of experience and study of the mind-body interplay in health. Her services include wellbeing counselling, helping people to find their favoured tools for inner ease and offering techniques to enhance and match personal concepts of wellbeing.
I appreciated the flexibility of this therapy. If desired, I could simply lie quietly for the duration of the treatment, either alone or with Paula in the room. But she also offers head massage and guided meditation as supplements to further reduce stress and create inner balance – knowing I had a busy day ahead of me, I reluctantly decided against the head massage, but I will plan for it at my next session, as it works wonders for my relaxation.
I did ask Paula for a guided meditation, and I benefitted from the calm and thoughtful words as I settled into the therapy. The heat comes gradually, and though I never felt uncomfortably hot, I did begin to perspire after a short time. This is natural and expected, she assured me.
Infrared therapy can increase heart rate to mimic a cardio workout, so I was curious as to whether I would feel uncomfortable or fidgety, but I did not at all. It was deeply relaxing and produced an inner warmth, and throughout my mind stayed calm.
I was surprised by how I felt after the treatment. After towelling off and getting dressed, I felt relaxed but present. I hadn’t drifted off into a deep meditative state that left me with the usual, delightful pseudo-sleepy condition I feel after many therapies. I felt calm but ready to face the rest of the day, a curious blend of the euphoria after a good workout combined with the grounding of a meditation session.
This is what, for me, sets infrared therapy apart from other, equally beneficial, therapies – I could get on with my day. I could see having an infrared sauna therapy session on a morning, squeezing some ‘me time’ into a busy day.
For more information on infrared sauna therapy or to book a session, please contact Paula on 07913 241014, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit olivetreehealth.co.uk.