The word Banya stems from the Latin word "Balneum", meaning to part with disease, pain and sadness. Banya is an ancient Russian tradition, discovered in chronicles dating back to 100AD.
Banya is a popular bathing ritual shared with family and friends, the process divided into three stages: firstly a sauna, typically between 60-80c with 80% humidity; then a treatment called Besom using birch twigs soaked in water, which are gently rubbed and then tapped all over the body to enhance circulation, balance your energy and finally relaxation with hydration. In every Banya you will find a "prostranshik", whose job is to guide guests through each sequence. This can involve numerous trips to the hot and cold areas, instructing guests to wear a Banya hat to protect the head and face from the intense heat and to ensure that clients are following the protocol of each phase and feeling good.
Between each stage guests are invited to a separate area to relax and drink herbal teas and seasonal juices for about 10-15 minutes at a time, allowing for the prostranshik to introduce fresh steam into the sauna, which gets progressively hotter, ensuring that when the besom massage is performed, it will stimulate blood circulation effectively and promote the release of toxins.
The last stage of the Banya treatment is all about relaxing. This is achieved by serving light, traditional meals and drinks and the application of products to the skin. This can be enhanced by a full body, essential oil massage and facial.
The Banya experience should balance the mind, body and soul, cleansing physically and mentally. The hot temperature promotes blood circulation and heavy sweating, and the subsequent release of toxins can help boost the immune system, improve kidney functions, relieve tense muscles and stiff joints, heal chronic diseases such as colds and bronchitis, lower cholesterol, stimulate weight loss, improve metabolism and combat aging.