Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sauna: The Finnish Bath by H.J. Viherjuuri

This is a short and pleasant little book.  What I like most about it is the way in which the author relates the experience of taking a sauna and it's positive effects.  “The feeling of well-being which follows the cold dip is undoubtedly one of the most delightful sensations which the human body can experience.” (41)  “the most delicious moment of all... when the bath is over and one can lie naked in the fresh air outside the sauna...” (44)  “The sauna banishes psychological troubles and ill humors.  In its heat, the mind is relieved of all pressure, and recovers its true balance.  A man bowed down by worries may come out of its doors in a philosophical and even humorous frame of mind.”  (45) 

Viherjuuri recommends a distance of at least 42 inches between the top platform and the ceiling, a 20 inch minimum width of the upper tier (78) and using bands of cloth hung from the ceiling as leg supports when lying down.  He also states that aspen (poplar) makes good material for benches. (55)  A nice full page “Rules of Thumb for Bathing” is included. (68)  “Regardless of where the stove may be placed, it should have a wooden guard rail around it.” (79)  Fiberglass bats should be stapled, not glued as the adhesive could melt. (80)  Regarding the sauna stones, he recommends igneous or basalt. (83)  I have struggled with ideas for a simple and effective floor drain, Viherjuuri recommends a “floor which slopes gently down to a drain in the corner of the hot room; the floor can be scrubbed and rinsed with a minimum of trouble, and the water brushed toward the drain.” (82)  I encountered a lot of advice in this book that I recall reading from later sauna books that recycled Viherjuuri's wisdom.  He is clearly viewed as an authority in his field.

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