The Finns had used saunas since the 5th century as a place to cleanse the mind, rejuvenate and refresh the spirit, and prepare the dead for burial (you will feel like the latter when you step into the sauna for the first time).
When the Finns migrated to other areas of the globe they brought their sauna designs and traditions with them, introducing other cultures to the enjoyment and health benefits of sauna. My introduction to a finnish sauna was at the tender age of 18 and what was supposed to be a “meet-the-parents-for-lunch” event, turned into an all nudity event in a sauna (this included the ‘vasta’, where finns tie together small fresh birch branches and swat themselves and their fellow sauna bathers with it).
While meeting the family in full nudity was not pleasant, the sauna experience was and over the years I managed to have a sauna in every house I lived in.
I stumbled across a number of distributors in South Africa who nowadays sell sauna-kits. In essence a number of wooden panels (typically made of canadian hemlock) which are pre-wired and can easily be “clipped” together:
As technology has moved on, so have saunas. If you were used to hot rock saunas with heating elements, nowadays you get infrared saunas which come delivered with digital control panels, built-in hifi-system, chromotherapy (light therapy) and an oxygen ionizer.
The cool thing about infrared saunas is that they heat up quite quickly (in 8 minutes to 50 degrees celsius) and infrared beams warm objects without warming the air between them.
Although this sounds like you would microwave your body, Infrared light is absolutely safe as it is part of the Sun’s invisible spectrum of light. The benefits of Far-infrared light are manifested in its ability to penetrate the human tissue. The Far-infrared heat (Far-infrared light waves) penetrates your skin, giving you that wonderful natural warmth. Unlike sunbathing, you can relax in a Far infrared sauna for hours and it will never cause your skin to burn. Infrared heater technology is completely healthy and safe for all living things.
There are a number of health benefits using a sauna such as lowering of blood pressure, weight loss (you will burn between 300-600 cal in a 30 minute session), lowering of blood sugar levels, increase in blood flow, lowering of cholesterol, pain relief, boosting of immune system and improving of skin tone and elasticity.
I purchased a 2 person sauna and received delivery of 6 boxes for self-installation. If you are reasonably strong, you will be able to assemble it yourself (the top- and rear-panels are the heaviest to lift). Installation goes fairly quick as everything is pre-wired. You place the back-panel onto the base, clip in the 2 side panels and then the curved panels and door. The top-cover contains all the electronics and connects to the heaters through cabling fed inside the side-panels via male-female kettle plugs. Once assembled, you just need to install the hi-fi (stereo speakers with MP3 CD radio), ionizer and towel- / magazine holder.