My Week as a Yogi | Day Four - Russian Banya
I wasn't really sure what to expect--so I was glad Vicki was up for the adventure. We went into the Banya, gave our phones, keys and wallets to the man at the desk who locked them in the safebox that corresponded to the locker we were assigned. He then handed us a robe, shoes, a lock for the lockers and towels and showed us around.
Vicki and I decided we were in for the whole experience, so we signed up for a Venik treatment. (At the time we had no idea what that meant except that it was authentic.) We did a lower heat dry sauna first, then switched to the steam sauna. (Which the man had infused with peppermint oil just for us.) Then we went to the Russian sauna. The Russian sauna is heated with wood. And it is really hot. The idea with the Russian sauna is that you open your pores and sweat out any toxins, then you dunk in a pool of ice water to close them again. (Literal ice water if you are in Russia, but here, just a big tank that is 42 degrees.)
The venik treatment is a type of massage done with a wet broom made of leaves...eucalyptus, birch and/or oak. Jacob--the massage therapist explained all the benefits, and I know it sounds odd, but it is actually pretty fantastic. Then once the treatment is finished....yes, you guessed it....ice pool and I screamed like a girl.
Other than that, you basically hang out in a robe in between times of hanging out in the sauna. We ordered hot tea because we were advised to heat our insides as well as our outsides. We also had lunch while lounging about in robes (totally decadent) and they had a beet salad--which meant I didn't have to abandon my raw food regimen.
The relaxation sensation is wonderful. Sort of languid and happy. By happenstance, Vicki and I picked Wednesday which is ladies day. Thursdays are men's days. (I'm not sure how it works on co-ed days, but I think swimsuits may be sort of optional. Consider yourself warned.)