If the idea of being thwacked by branches and leaves as part of your spa treatment doesn’t scare you, consider signing up for the latest spa trend inspired by a thousand-year-old tradition out of Russia.
According to trendspotters at Condé Nast Traveller UK, after Ayurvedic and Turkish baths, Russian banyas are poised to be the next big, mainstream spa trend currently gaining steady popularity across Europe.
Not unlike hamams, the Russian banya treatment is also based on wet steam, which is supposed to help detoxify the body. And the practice of what may appear to be self-flagellation with birch, oak or eucalyptus twigs and leaves is said to help improve blood circulation.
Russian banyas were also singled out by Spafinder.com as one of the top global spa and wellness trends for 2013, driven by an overall desire for ethnic, authentic treatments that extend beyond traditional Western spa experiences.
Expats abroad and spas around the world, meanwhile, are exporting the Russian tradition to different parts of the world.
At Banya No.1 in east London, for instance, steam sessions are followed by a honey and sea salt body scrub, the traditional ‘birch thwack’ and a plunge into an ice bath to boost circulation.