Far Infrared Therapy and infrared saunas have long been a ritual in my personal healing + self-care practice. While attending college in Charleston, I interned at an Eastern medicine spa and wellness center that, among many incredible healing modalities and offerings, housed an infrared sauna. Hopping in for a 30-60 minute sweat became part of my daily routine and initiated a lot of physical + mental healing during a period of imbalance + unwellness for me (because you know, college).
More recently, one of my favorite local S. Florida wellness spots, Choosing Transitions Float Studio (which is a must try if you've never been), began offering infrared sauna sessions and I could not be more excited about it. Though daily sessions are no longer possible for me time wise, I make it a point to stop in at least once a week for a thorough detox and recharge. Because I've received quite a few messages + questions about infrared therapy and it's benefits, I wanted to take this opportunity to share the science behind the modality and the benefits I've personally experienced.
WHAT IT IS
Though Far Infrared Therapy has only just recently become mainstream here in the West, heat therapy has been utilized as a healing modality across various cultures + traditions for thousands of years. Sweating is incredibly therapeutic and healing for nearly all our systems + bodily functions. Infrared saunas (and other far infrared therapies) utilize a combination of heat and light to warm the body's core temperature and facilitate detoxification. Far Infrared Rays (FIR) are actually light waves that, while invisible to the naked human eye, are able to easily + immediately penetrate the body. What sets infrared saunas apart from more traditional saunas is that instead of just heating the air around you, FIR are able to penetrate deep into the body to raise your core temperature directly, which is far more beneficial and effective.
WHAT IT DOES
The benefits of Far Infrared Therapy feel nearly endless. Because it is heating + detoxifying the body from the inside out, you are eliminating on average about 7x more toxins than if you were to sweat in a traditional sauna. These light rays are actually able to reach our cells on an individual level, working to alter our cell membranes and mitochondrial activity, which results in dramatic + positive changes in our body chemistry. This therapy allows us to to sweep our cells and bodies clean of heavy metals, endocrine disrupters, inflammation, and disease.
DETOXIFICATION | The rise in our body's core temperature stimulates the production of sweat, which of course is a major mode of detoxification. Accumulated toxins within the body are forced out, freeing up our energy for deep + long-lasting healing. These healing light rays are even able to eliminate some of the electromagnetic toxins we take in from our phones + other technologies. With that said, be sure to make this a phone-free space.
HORMONE BALANCE | Infrared heat stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which serves to reduce stress and promote calm on a physiological level within the mind and body. Activation of this system has a wide range of positive effects on both mental + physical health, as we know how truly detrimental and destructive chronic stress can be. Similarly, Far Infrared Therapy reduces the production of cortisol, our body's stress hormone that keeps us feeling perpetually stressed out. For these reasons, this modality is a really effective tool for healing adrenal fatigue and other stress- and hormone-related issues.
IMPROVED CARDIOVASCULAR FUNCTION | FIR increase circulation, decrease inflammation, and normalize blood pressure, setting the scene for improved cardiovascular function and healing.
REDUCED INFLAMMATION | Because infrared heat works on the cellular level, it's an effective means of reducing inflammation within the entire body. Those suffering from inflammation-related disorders of any kind will see improvements, and many report dramatic decreases in (and elimination of) joint, arthritic, and chronic pain.
CLEANS + CLEARS SKIN | Infrared heat is incredibly healing for the skin. The pores are detoxified, inflammation is reduced, and increased circulation brings fresh and nutrient-rich blood to the skin's surface. FIR also stimulate the production of collagen, which we know is the ultimate skin-healer and beauty-booster.
SUPPORTS WEIGHT LOSS | The rise in core temperature increases our metabolic activity, and we actually go into calorie-burning mode during the process. Most us will end up burning 600-1200 calories per 60 minute session.
INCREASED IMMUNITY | The healing frequencies of FIR paired with the rise in our core temperature (essentially mimicking a fever) result in the elimination of disease-causing microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, and infections) within the body. Anytime I feel a cold coming on, I head straight to the sauna and almost always feel back to normal the following day.
WHERE TO GO
Here in Palm Beach, Choosing Transitions is my go-to. In addition to the infrared sauna, they also house a sensory deprivation float tank (!) and ionic foot detox (another favorite of mine). It's a sweet little hideaway for healing + restoration.
Another local must-try for infrared healing is Haute Yoga's new Jupiter studio, which uses infrared heating panels for a deeper, more effective sweat + detox. You can catch me teaching there Mondays + Fridays at 7 am, and practicing in the healing heat nearly every day of the week.
When in New York, I'm a Higher Dose devotee.
There are infrared saunas popping up everywhere, so be sure to explore your local community to find one nearby.