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Sauna etiquette in Germany

As someone who comes from South Africa, where the climate tends to be warmer, I never really needed to use a sauna.  It was during a stay at a hotel in Germany that I was first introduced to the idea of a sauna. Although I was intrigued by the thought of trying it out, I was also apprehensive, as I knew absolutely nothing about proper sauna etiquette. In the end, my lack of knowledge turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it prevented me from making  a fool of myself. 

When visiting a sauna in Germany, there are certain cultural norms and etiquette that should be observed. It’s important to note that unlike many other countries, saunas in Germany are typically unisex and require guests to be completely nude. This may seem shocking or uncomfortable to some, but it’s important to respect the local customs and traditions. Many Germans view the sauna as a place of relaxation and rejuvenation for the mind and body.

Before visiting the sauna, take time to learn proper etiquette and guidelines. Following these guidelines will allow you to fully enjoy the experience while being considerate to fellow users and staff.

  • Make sure you know the rules beforehand.
  • Most saunas (with some exceptions) have a no-clothes policy .. jip not even your swimsuit. So if you have an issue with nudity, rather not go. You can ask beforehand if swimsuits are allowed.
  • Some saunas have single-sex days or separate women-only saunas
  • Bring two towels, one to sit on and one to use after showering.
  • Always shower before going into the sauna
  • Always wear a pair of flip-flops in the shower and sauna
  • You can wrap your towel around you before leaving the changing rooms. But once inside the sauna, it should be used to sit on.
  • Avoid direct contact with any wood.
  • Don’t stare! and don’t look around.
  • Please don’t talk to others, it is supposed to be a quiet time
  • The sauna master (Aufgussmeister) is responsible for the “Aufguss” – pouring water on the hot stones. This in itself is a ceremony.
  • It is important to cool down after your sauna session. You can take a shower or jump in a plunge pool if there are any.
  • The warm footbath is so that your body can cool off quicker by boosting circulation.
  • If you feel unwell, leave the sauna immediately
  • Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol
  • Do not spend more than 20 minutes at a time in a sauna
  • Do not use the sauna if you are ill. Confirm with your doctor if it is safe while pregnant or for any other condition you might have

Possible benefits and risks

The possible health benefits are:

  • Easing muscle and joint pain
  • Reducing stress levels
  • Improving cardiovascular health
  • Helping with skin problems
  • Relieving Asthma symptoms

The possible risks are:

  • Rise or fall in blood pressure
  • Dehydration

Info on the web

 Read more about the benefits and risks on WebMD

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