A Smart Phone In A Sauna? {Is that really smart?}

11 Dec

About 2 or 3 times a week I try to spend some time in the dry sauna at my gym. I will usually do this after I have taught a morning Zumba class and have done some resistance exercises for myself, and right before I take my shower and get on with the rest of my day. While in the sauna I do a few yoga stretches, focusing on my lower back, hamstrings, pirifomis, shoulders and quads. I have an addition towel to the one that I sit or lay on so that I can drape my goodies depending on the type of stretch I’m doing. It’s all ladies in the looker room and the sauna is very small and never heavily populated, but I feel it’s the polite thing to do. If they have a problem with toplessness, well, then they are outta luck.

I started visiting the sauna on a recommendation from my husband. He knows an orthopedic surgeon who swears by a hot sauna’s effectiveness, combined with some gentle stretching specific to a trouble spot, or spots,  to help alleviate soreness. Since I have constant tightness in my lower back and pirifomis I thought what do I have to lose. Prior to starting this routine I had never been inside a dry sauna.

The first thing I noticed was the heat. The heat combined with the smallness of the little room. About the size of a walk-in closet and completely lined with wood (red cedar?), its usually heated up to somewhere in the high 160’s degrees wise. Benches lined two of the four walls. Fortunately the door is mainly made of glass, sparing me from a complete claustrophobic break down. Once I was able to wrap my head around how freaking hot it was (I felt like my lungs had to adapt to a new atmosphere), I quickly melted into a mode of relaxation. I don’t time myself, but rather let my own heat tolerance determine when to cry uncle. Sometimes I don’t get through all the stretches that I want to do. Opting instead to bail lest I risk passing out or getting felled by heat induced nausea.

So, I’ve continued the routine. My visits had to go on hiatus for a month or so while repairs were being done to the wet sauna. Since they are right next to each other in my gym both had to be sectioned off for the repairmen to work, undisturbed by the constant stream of naked ladies (all ages, mind you. I’d love to know their take on ladies’ locker room talk). Both have once again become accessible. I can once again feel the benefits in my muscles. My dry sauna visits don’t completely eliminate my trouble spots, but the visits do help me to maintain a large range of movement while cutting down on the pain. Then there is also the mind calming aspect. Didn’t realize how much I missed that until I got it back.

Most of the time I am in the sauna all by my lonesome. Sometimes someone is in there when I go in. Sometimes someone will join me during my sit. There’s plenty of room. Conversations are at a mellow and relaxed pace. Heat will calm everything you do down. No need to get into any heavy topics since we intuitively know that our individual time is short in the little room of devouring heat. Once it’s time to leave, it is time to leave. Some women come with just their towels on, others will have their workout clothes still on (I would go insane, like bat-shit panic level insane) or a bathing suit. Once I noticed that a young lady in the spa just outside the sauna was drying her sweat soaked tank top and yoga pants in the dry sauna. Can’t fault that kind of ingenuity.

A number of months ago a young lady was sitting in the sauna, wearing workout clothes and shoes (personal panic moment) and vigorously texting on her smartphone. It struck me as odd to have an electrical device in such a hot environment. It also made me feel a little of what I can only describe as sympathetic anxiety that she couldn’t just tune the world out and be separated from her cell phone for the short time while in the sauna. Why even go into the sauna if those texts are so damn important. But, not my problem.

A couple of weeks ago I was doing my routine time in the sauna with some gentle yoga poses and stretches. A lady joined me (super cute purple bikini). She commented on how she missed the clock that used to be on a wall close by the hot water spa, visible from the sauna door as well. It helped her keep track of the time so she could make a yoga class (I wonder if she appreciated my variations on Gomukhasana and Janu Sirsana poses). I’ve felt the burn of my earrings in the sauna the times I have forgotten to remove them, so wearing a watch wouldn’t work out much better. I mentioned that I saw a gal bring her smartphone in once and how it seemed kind of crazy to me, but I’m sure she could keep track of time. She replied with, “Coming in here is a way to escape from all that stuff (being electronically connected to everything). I wouldn’t want to bring all that in here with me. That would feel miserable.” So true. Interestingly, I was having similar thoughts minutes earlier as I was settling in.

Sitting in the sauna, enveloped in the heat, provides me with not just a physical restoration of sorts, but a psychological and emotional one as well. The extreme heat and the snugness of the room cause my mind to slow down and relax. I don’t know if it’s my own version of mentally surviving the onslaught of heat and my body’s physical response to it, or if it is just plain old relaxation. Because anxiety would get in the way of coping with the heat and smallness of the room, my thoughts tend to gravitate towards neutral, calming positive thoughts. The complexities of the world, in my mind, become as stripped down as myself. My breath becomes the atmospheric sound. I think the sauna must butt up against the men’s locker room, because I can often hear muffled male voices. I like the timbre of the male voice, and since I can’t make out their words the sound is kind of soothing.

There is a dimly lit light in the small wood lined room. It throws an almost candlelit hue of soft light. My skin looks beautiful and luminescent in it. Not because my skin is particularly beautiful in color or tone, it’s not. Anyone’s skin would look beautiful under the lighting, but I can stare at my own, thus sparing another some extreme awkwardness.

Thoughts and feelings gently roll through my brain as I listen to my body during my various stretches. Sometimes I will find an especially tight spot. My mind will conjure scenes of serene fields of tall grass and wild flowers blowing gently in a breeze as I inhale and exhale through the tightness in my muscles.

Image source.

As sweat starts to bead  on my heated skin and my muscles melt my mind drifts to seas of rolling burgundy velvet. Sensual and rich like handfuls of damp, nutrient rich earth.

Hey! Wait a minute! (Image source)

That’s more like it.

As my anxieties are overridden by my relaxation and pleasure center, the world becomes a little clearer. My tasks and directions for the day line up like obedient sentries. Things appear a little brighter, crisper, cleaner.

Image source.

There is absolutely nothing on my smartphone that can compete with all of that.

I think a basic understanding of electronics will lead most to realize that high heat is not good for batteries, of any kind. Or motors. Have you ever noticed that most appliances and electronics that generate a  lot of heat have built in fans? I have a Belkin Laptop Cooling Pad for my laptop, and I bought one for my daughter (oh, that reminds me; a great gift for my other daughter who got a laptop earlier this year. Woo Hoo!). Jump into a wet sauna and you are adding moisture with the heat. Lame. Don’t do it. Learn to decipher the buzzing in your head. Do not reject it as boredom. Boredom is too elevated of a state for most humans to actually be in. It means that you have absolutely nothing to do or think about. That is not the case for most anyone with a pulse and at least a couple brainwaves.

Image source. Tumblerone.

Be smart and stow away that smartphone before venturing into the sauna (wet or dry). Become the interesting thing on the mobile web.

Thoughts? Do you do the sauna sit’n’sweat? Wet or Dry? Terrifed to be parted from your mobile device? Or looking for a good escape? 


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