Do: get naked
People generally strip off to use banya. While this may seem a little odd or confronting for people coming from countries where public bathing and steam rooms aren’t really a thing, it would be more strange for you to wear a swimsuit than to not wear one. In Banya No.1 we suggest you wear bikini for your own comfort in public areas.
Don’t: over do it
Intrinsic to the banya experience is to sweat a lot and to detoxify, so don’t underestimate how much you will perspire. If you’re feeling woozy and light headed, take a break.
Do: accept a beating from a stranger
This might be one of the only instances where taking a beating from someone is ok. In fact, it is so ok, you should probably say ‘thank you’ afterwards. A gentle lashing with a wad of birch tree branches, or venik, is really good for the skin.
Do: beware of the steaming ritual
If you see banschik pick up a venik or a towel in the steam room, and other visitors move away, do the same. They are gearing up to help ‘settle’ the steam, which means they are prepping the conditions for maximum detoxification.
Don’t: drink water
It may seem natural to grab a swig of cold, refreshing water while trying to stand the almost unbearable heat, but don’t do it. Drink tea instead.
Do: wear a felt hat
They may look a tad dorky, but functionality doesn’t always need to be glamorous. Not only does it protect your hair from drying out, but it also regulates your head’s temperature. Our noggins heat up quicker than our bodies, and while we want to raise our core temperature, we don’t want to feel like our brains are melting.
Why rush? Visiting a banya is incredibly relaxing, in a deep tissue massage kind of way, so take your time and enjoy it.