Here in Melbourne, Australia it's getting chilly, and I'm feeling it. The fact I spend hours of my day in a stationary, desk-bound position doesn't help my cause at all. Yet when that 'chilled to the bone' feeling sets in and doesn't want to budge, I have just the answer - and let me tell you it's a dream come true (there she is, to the left, spread-eagled across my floor). Buying a Far-infrared Sauna was one of the better purchasing decisions I have made  (ask me that on a 45 degree day when I'm sweating it out and I may question that for just a second) and was born out of a fundamental turning point in my recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I have introduced the FIR sauna previously in my blog and shared a number of its benefits. You can read that post here.

As part of my journey to wellness I spent countless hours researching, talking to experts and trialling different therapies. When all of your choices in life are taken away (and when you have the energy to do more than hover a mouse over a computer screen) you'll give anything a crack. I was introduced to the FIR Sauna by one of my dearest friends Kylie, who had taken the time to read about and understand my illness. Kylie called me one day excitedly, telling me about a man (Mark) in Melbourne who'd had CFS for ten years. Mark had found out about the FIR sauna, sat in it every day twice a day for a couple of weeks and healed himself (note: not everyone with CFS will have the same immediate outcome). I needed to know more, so I tracked Mark down and as it turned out he was working with Sunlighten Saunas in Melbourne. So began a beneficial relationship with Sunlighten and the FIR sauna. It is because of the profound effect the FIR sauna had on my recovery (and continues to have on my health) that I have decided to share my experiences further and in collaboration with Sunlighten, hope to encourage others to consider it as part of their weekly routine.

The FIR sauna is not your typical sauna. Saunas as you know them have been around for many years, but often when we think about them we imagine an often unbearably high heat in a claustrophobic space. The Sunlighten sauna is perfect for people who struggle with the traditional sauna - rather than using an instantaneous high heat to make the body sweat, their sauna raises the core body temperature by heating the body directly. This means it is 100% safe, totally relaxing and full of health benefits (which I spoke about in the above linked post). For many of us, hiring or purchasing a FIR sauna may have been a decision born out of illness or a desire to improve our health. These saunas are built for wellness and have been researched, developed and designed in-house (and most importantly, independently tested). I certainly did my research before purchasing my FIR sauna and strongly recommend you do the same. Ask for studies, get the supplier to prove they have done their due-diligence. I know Sunlighten will be more than happy to supply relevant information. Knowing that these saunas are used and recommended by holistic practitioners was important to me - feel free to contact Sunlighten if you would like a referral to a professional who can share their insight.

So now that I am 'well' (hear me shout to the roof tops) you may ask why I continue to sit in my sauna. Here's a few reasons:

  1. My illness came about due to an off the richter scale toxicity reading. I am determined now to give my body every bit of help it needs to encourage the detoxification process. I eat organically. I also avoid chemicals and toxins at all cost. I can't however avoid environmental pollution, so I use my sauna to help remove toxicity. The FIR sauna invokes extensive sweating and it's such a great, cleansing feeling! Whenever I am flagging just a little, when I feel a cold coming on for example, the first thing I do is get into my sauna and sweat it out. I literally visualise my body being cleared of the toxicity. Viruses cannot survive in the heat of the FIR sauna so combined with a health promoting green juice I quickly nip them in the bud.
  2. For me the sauna is an opportunity to be still, to be totally mindful. I am forever battling with an in-built 'drive' that pushes me, hard. The FIR sauna represents an opportunity to stop in silence for thirty minutes. There is no technology, no music, nothing. Just the opportunity to clear my mind and truly relax.
  3. It's warm. Oh it's soooo warm! You jump in and the heat envelopes you gently (not like the traditional sauna where you can't almost can't physically breath). It heats you gradually from the inside out which means you can lie in the sauna for a good 30 minutes, at least. On a cold afternoon I jump out toasty and remain that way until bed time.
  4. I love the way my skin glows. Do you know anyone who does a lot of Bikram Yoga? I bet their skin glows beautifully. The FIR is totally health promoting inside and out.
  5. During the cooler months I have a little trouble with my circulation, mainly in a few fingers and toes. When you jump out of a sauna and into a cold shower (I know, not appealing but definitely beneficial) you feel the energy and blood flow throughout your body - you feel totally alive. That feeling represents the first experience I had with a FIR sauna, during the worst of my CFS journey. I remember saying to mum that I had this sense of vitality running through my viens, not a word often combined in the same sentence as CFS.

My FIR sauna routine is pretty relaxed. Typically I lie in it 2-3 times per week. For me it's an end of day routine, generally post dog exercise and before dinner so that I can totally relax into my evening. This routine I am proud to say, was even upheld during the height of summer - regardless of temperature. Anything for tip top health.

For anyone considering trialling a sauna, Sunlighten have kindly offered the first 20 readers complementary use of  a sauna in South Melbourne (usually the session costs $40).  Call 03 9696 4602 for an appointment and mention my name or the blog. You can choose either a cabin or solo system sauna, as above. Sunlighten are fully self-contained with showers and towels in a spa-style environment so just take yourself. I promise it'll be one of the most relaxing half hours you have had in a while.

Amy Crawford

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