Please note that the following overview of how to use Banya does not constitute a professional advice and does not take into account your personal health conditions. When using Banya you always need to listen to your own body and assess your abilities to adjust to extreme temperatures. If necessary, please seek a professional advice from your doctor before attending banya. Tiny Banya takes no responsibilities for any adverse health effects that are caused during or after using our banya.
Before going to Banya
Please attend banya on a light stomach. Avoid overeating too much 1.5 to 2 hours before going to Banya. Having a heavy stomach will make it much harder for your heart to cope with high temperatures and you won’t enjoy it.
Traditional Banya is also without alcohol. So, we highly recommend you don’t mix these too. No alcohol is allowed before and during our banya sessions. Please don’t overload your body with unnecessary stress.
Lastly, it is also important to understand that banya is a place for “Me Time”.
So, leave your worries and distractions aside before enjoying Banya. It means don’t bring your phone or check Facebook while in banya.
Relax and simply be in the moment.
It is important to know some simple rules in banya which helps everyone to have good experience.
First of all, when coming in and out steam room make sure the door is closed properly. Nothing is more frustrating in banya than slightly open door.
Secondly, avoid walking in or out of the steam room when someone just added water on rocks or started body massage with veniki. By opening the door, you are reducing temperature and steam inside, which is exactly opposite to what others want. As a respect to others, you should wait until steam is subside.
Thirdly, use personal towel to sit on benches for hygienic reasons.
Lastly, please remember that banya is not a place for nudity if it’s mixed male and female. Some countries (like Germany) accept nudity in mixed sauna as normal but not in Eastern European banya. So, please make sure you wear bathers at all times.
Start with rinsing yourself before entering banya but keep your head dry. Water at high temperatures will increase risk of damaging your hair and overheating of head. That’s why eastern Europeans have special sauna hats to keep heads cooler and hair protected in sauna. You can buy one of them from Tiny Banya. We have a good range of sauna hats available (made from natural felt).
It is also recommended not to wear metal jewelleries on you as they can burn your skin in the high heat of banya.
The best body position in banya (as in any sauna) is to lay down when head and legs are on the same level. This position makes your heart work easier. While Tiny Banya is not that big it is still designed with benches length of about 2m to give possibility of a normal person to lay down. If you can’t lay, then at least try to keep your legs on the same level as the rest of your body. This way you will also stretch your knees and hips.
Take it easy for the first entry. If you are new to banya sit on the lower bench first where temperature is lower for as long as you feel comfortable, let your body adjust to heat, get used to sweating. Practice being in banya. When you feel it’s too hot and you can’t take it anymore – go out and have a rest.
On the second and further entries it is time to use banya in full steam (of course if you feel comfortable after your first time).
So, before you sit or lie down on the upper bench, add more steam by splashing small portions of hot water mixed with essential oils on walls behind the heater and heater’s rocks. This will rapidly increase humidity in the air and your perception of hot temperature will also increase. The best position when steam is rising is laying down on upper or sitting on a lower bench. You can take turns with your friend of who puts more water on rocks and who’s laying down.
Important! Be mindful of the hot water and rapid steam. Do not stand close to the heater while splashing water on rocks! If you feel dizzy or light headed at any time please leave steam room immediately.
The essential oils will bring nice aroma and clear your breathing pathways. They are part of the banya culture, so don’t forget to use them. There is a range of natural oil mixes available for sale from Tiny Banya.
It is also time for you to try the special body massage with a bundle of leafy tree twigs called “venik”. The whole procedure called “paritsia” in Russian and doesn’t have a direct translation to English. Any substitution with an existing English word in order to translate, in our opinion, will not bring the actual meaning of the process. So, we decided to call it “steam massage” for now.
How to prepare venik
The main tool for steam massage is “venik” which has to be prepared before putting it into action. There are different trees that a venik can be made off and, therefore, slight variations exist of how to prepare them before steam massage. If you would like to know those differences, please ask us and we would be happy to share the knowledge with you in details. Otherwise, simply follow the easy steps that suits most type of venik:
First rinse your venik under running water
Then, immerse it in warm water in the wooden bucket provided with Tiny Banya for 2-5 minutes
The last step is to dry venik above hot rocks inside steam room for about 20-30 seconds,
Venik is ready to be used now!
One venik comes as complimentary with each Tiny Banya hire. However, if you would like to purchase more we have them available in our accessories store.
How to do steam massage in banya
The steam massage in banya can be done by yourself. However, it is better if a friend of yours do it for you (it is also more relaxing and social this way). The following instructions are for when someone is helping you with it. Let’s call that person a “partner” for the sake of this description.
So, start with laying down on your tummy arms parallel to body on the upper bench. Meanwhile your “partner” splash small portion of hot water on heater’s rocks (please use hot water from the heater above the stove) until the desired temperature is reached.
After that, please follow the sequence of the banya techniques:
Technique #1. Airing.
The “partner” keeps venik above you and makes circles in the air slightly touching your body with leaves. This will heat up your skin and give a feel for the air.
Technique #2. Compress.
The venik is raised up to the ceiling to catch hot air. Then, on the way down, it is gently shaken and, finally, hard compressed on body parts for couple seconds each time with the help of “partner’s” hand. First compress goes to your feet where lots of sensitive nerves will be activated to prepare for the main massage. So, bend your knees and raise your feet above the bench. Then partner will compress venik to each of your foot separately up to 5 times.
After feet the compress goes up along your whole body: legs, hips, back, arms, and shoulders.
Technique #3. Rubbing.
Compress venik to the mid hip (tail bone) and move it to the left side without losing pressure. Then do the same to the right side. Move up along spine until you reach shoulders. Can repeat on the same spot 2-3 times.
Technique #4. Gentle Lashing
Now you can do gentle lashing of the whole body with the venik. The movement should be up to down so that you catch more hot air and bring it to skin. Please be mindful and don’t do it too hard. Always ask the person that is being massaged if he or she comfortable with the intensity. This procedure stimulates further blood flow to the skin.
After you finished with your back massage turn around and let your “partner” to do all the above techniques on the front of your body. However, the intensity this time should be less than on your back.
The steam massage should be finished on your back where it started. So, turn around again and apply gentle compresses as you feel like.
After steaming do not stand up straight away. Lay down for 2-3 min to rest. After that carefully stand up and go out steam room.
In between sessions
It is very common to jump in a cold plunge pool or even snow after steam room in Belarus. If you feel like that too then try it but be mindful of your own abilities.
The other important fact about banya is that traditionally rest between steam sessions takes longer than being in steam room. People usually utilise the rest time for socialising and drinking warm local herbal teas. The most popular of them is Ivan Tea. Your Tiny Banya hire comes with a complimentary freshly brewed pot of Ivan Tea. If you like it and wish to buy more, we have a range of organic Ivan Tea for sale in our accessories shop. It is being supplied directly from Belarussian families who collect and process it by hand.
The other popular local drink is called Kvass. It is a fermented drink similar to Kombucha and made from local ingredients. It has been renowned for its health benefits for many centuries. Tiny Banya will have it on offer soon.
So, relax, socialise drink and enjoy with Tiny Banya!