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No Russian can imagine life without sauna, or banya, as we call it. Banya is an ancient cultural and social phenomenon that is much more than just a way to stay clean. In fact, banya is a way to stay healthy and to socialize with friends. Come and join the banya movement and enjoy great health, wonderful mood, and long life!

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Sauna Accessories

The Russian sauna, or banya, has a long and rich cultural relationship with the Russian people. The word banya itself is derived from Greek, meaning “cleansing of a body with the help of steam.” It is of no coincidence that the Russian banya has such high levels of popularity – historically, the thick forested woods provided the material necessary to build the sauna, and the cold, harsh winters prompted Russians to seek warm solace and comfort through the banya. The saunas in Russia are also associated with a healthy lifestyle. The high temperature of the sauna causes one to sweat profusely, releasing excess water and bacteria from the skin and cleaning out the pores, thereby making the skin appear cleaner and healthier. Because of this, when Peter I founded St. Petersburg, he encouraged people to build saunas in their homes, incentivizing them to do so by not charging taxes on homes that contained saunas. This greatly distinguished the Russian sauna culture from that of other European nations such as Italy and France, where the usage of the sauna was considered to be a luxury experience, only reserved for the nobility and the wealthy. As the usage of the sauna became more popularized amongst Russians, several sauna accessories were specifically developed to facilitate the banya experience. One such popular sauna accessory is the venik. The venik is a bunch of dried tree branches tied together with their leaves still attached, usually made from oak or birch. It is used by banya goers to massage the skin by caressing and enveloping it carefully with heat. Venik massages promote blood circulation, and kill off harmful bacteria. Moreover, the venik allows for an even distribution of dry heat across the body. Without the venik, heat may be distributed unevenly, which can lead to overheating and stresses on the cardiovascular system. Another important sauna accessory is a “sauna hat,” which is worn to protect the head, hair and ears from overheating during sauna sessions. Because the sauna hat is made from pure sheep wool, it offers the highest grade of comfort and prevents excessive heat from reaching the head. Wearing the sauna hat allows one to stay in the banya longer, allowing the body more time to relax, rejuvenate, and heal itself.

Related blog article:
The Russian Banya, a Second Mother

Edited by Mikhail Kholodov