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Want a Sauna a la Russe? All you need to know

Asha Bogenfuerst Asha Bogenfuerst
by Architekten Graf + Graf Scandinavian
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A sauna a la Russe or Banya is a traditional type of Russian sauna and steam bath that is extremely popular even today. Basically, a typical Russian steam bath consists of both a hot and cold bath. The reason why Russian saunas and steam baths are so popular is because they have many health and beauty benefits, and are also an excellent way of relaxing and socializing as well. This idea guide features basic information and tips on how to create your very own sauna a la Russe or Banya at home. 

We hope you will be inspired by this idea guide to build your Russian type sauna at home. Let's browse through some of these brilliant tips shall we?

The features

Essentially, the Russian sauna is communal room where lots of hot steam is created with the help of water and hot steam. The hot, wet steam room is called the parnaya. Traditionally, the hot steam is created by firewood, however modern Russian saunas today sometimes create the hot steam using electric heat as well. 

The walls and floors of the banya are usually made out of wood, and it also has long, wide wooden benches along the walls where you can comfortably lay down all stretched out. The benches are usually arranged one on top of the other. The higher the bench is, the hotter the air is as hot air naturally rises. This way a micro climate is created in the sauna. 

Hot and cold

The Russian sauna experience is all about mixing the extremes of hot and cold. After the steam bath gets too hot to handle, you take a dip in a pool of cold water or pour cold water over yourself from a tub. The hot steam opens up all your pours and lets the toxins out, while the cold water closes the pores again and gives your skin an invigorating rush that will make it glow beautifully. This hot and cold treatment is also good for blood circulation. 

The lovely wooden sauna pictured here is designed by Graf & Graf Architekten, architects based in Montabaur, Germany. 

Bath brooms

A typical accessory or tool in the Russian sauna is a bath broom or a venik. Essentially, the bath broom is a bundle of twigs and leafy branches from birch or oak trees. The venik is dipped into cold water and then smacked briskly all over the body. Traditionally, there used to be a special person in charge of doing this called the banschik, however, these days people usually go to the banya together and help smack each other with the venik. 

The process of getting smacked with a venik is believed to be able to remove toxins and harmful chemicals from your body. It might be quite fun too! The Russians have a saying, the bath broom is worth more than money. Actually it makes sense, because health is more precious than money. 

The advantages of sauna a la Russe

The advantages of sauna a la Russe have been known for a long time. One of the most well known benefits is that hot steam helps clean the skin, and makes it soft and smooth. The Russian sauna also helps fight diseases by removing toxins and harmful elements from the body. If you are overweight, having a weekly Russian sauna session can help you to lose weight in a healthy and relaxing way.  There is a famous Russian saying, the day you spend in the banya is the day you do not age.

Old Russian motifs

Now that you are well versed on what a Russian sauna should consist of, it's time to decorate the space appropriately. Just search for old Russian motifs online, and see what you can print out clearly to make posters of them or attach them to the sauna somehow. You can also try searching for traditional ethnic Russian fabric and decorations online. 

Browse through decorations here on homify for more new ideas and refreshing inspiration. 

A social space

The Russian sauna experience is meant to be a social space where friends can meet and have chats. There is usually a special room for this separate from the hot steam room. The predbannik is a room where people take a break from the hot and steamy sauna room, and indulge in a cup of special herbal or aroma tea and stimulating conversations. This room usually has a large long table and a few benches to accomodate the social activity. 

We hope you've enjoyed this idea guide as much as we have. For more home tips, inspiration, and ideas, have a look at picturesque pastoral home for new age country-style living

Do you have any other tips for creating a Russian sauna at home? Let us know in the comments section below. 
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