Natural hot springs and some form of sauna (think sweat lodge) have long been revered and enjoyed by diverse cultures all around the world.

Places where hot water naturally bubbles up from the ground quite often hold deep spiritual significance to the indigenous people of that area. Sweat lodges and saunas are not just great for stress-relief, but can hold a key to greater spiritual connection to nature, to our elders, or to our animal counterparts. There may not be enough research in clinical settings to “prove” the effectiveness of natural spring water, heat, and steam, but the benefits of hot springs and sauna seem quite apparent by our ongoing love of such places and experiences. Health benefits or not, a good soak or sweat is a great way to connect with nature and to dive a little deeper into our wild animal sleeves.

Benefits of hot springs and sauna included the following:

Instant Stress Relief

This is an obvious one. Heat tends to ease tension. That combined with a peaceful environment can work wonders on an over-stressed or over-stimulated mind or body. When the body settles, the mind follows, and visa versa. The result is much less stress, and great sleep too!

Increased Blood Circulation

This is even more of a benefit in cold weather, but no matter the climate, an increase in blood flow has many health benefits. While not exactly the same as exercise, the blood flow experienced during a soak or steam has many of the same benefits, including increased cardiovascular health. Some studies show that a soak or sweat will burn quite a few calories, too! You’ll leave feeling less stiff and tired, more satisfied and relaxed.

Help with skin issue and joint pain

Heat and steam can work wonders on your skin and joints. Silica, sulfur and other minerals naturally occurring in spring water help with all kinds of skin issues and other conditions from eczema or psoriasis to arthritis and sore muscles.

Opens your Pores and Flushes Toxins

Intense heat and profuse sweating may not sound fun, but your body will thank you for it. Nothing open pores and flushes away toxins more than a soak and a good sweat! On top of that, the heat and steam will help flush your sinuses as well, for anyone suffering from congestion.

Loosens and releases deeper stresses

Hot water and steam can play an important role in opening up the physical body even further to better release older, stored stresses and emotions. Release of these deeper stresses can results in spontaneous laughter, crying or sudden fatigue. But after a long day of soaking and rest, as a result of this release you’ll feel rejuvenated, and may literally feel like a different person!

Brings people together

Don’t underestimate the power of hot springs and sauna in creating social bonds and forming community. Just as it is with sitting around a fire, there is something very primal and enjoyable about gathering with friends for a soak or a sweat. Make this a regular part of your life and not only will your health benefit, but you might make some new friends too!