Bania

Sauna, steam baths

Bania

Bania

Bania is a traditional Russian steam bath, with the lower temperature and higher humidity then Finnish sauna. In the bania there are three rooms: entrance room, steam room and a washing room. In the entrance room you can leave your clothes and rest on the benches. In the washing room you can find a tap of very hot water, usually heated on the stove of the steam room, and a tap for cold water for mixing the water at a comfortable temperature. This room is the final phase of sweat bathing in bania, where one washes himself after the whole process. In the steam room there is a wooden stove which produces the heat, with the bucket of water beside it used for pouring the stones in the stove, and the wooden benches across to seat on. The process of bathing is very similar to that in Finnish sauna.

There were two different kinds of bania: black and white. Black banias represent a certain equivalent to Finnish smoke sauna, where the smoke is led out through the hole in the ceiling, and the smoke darkens the interior of the room. White banias refer to Russian „urban baths“ in the cities. They all have the stone stoves with the tank to heat the water, temperature is low and humidity is high, thus it is thought of as a „classical“ steam bath.

The Bania process: After the first round of sweating follows cooling off in a breeze outdoor, in a lake or a river, or just by splashing with the cold water. After each round of sweating, a cycle of cooling off and relaxing is repeated, often accompanied with refreshment, a light beer or a tea. Sometimes already in the second round of sweating, and mainly in the third, bathers use venik for gentle beating of the body, same as bathers in Finnish sauna do. It is a whisk made of bunches of dried branches and leaves of suitable, leafy trees, mainly the white birch.

Today, commercial banias often have just a steam room and a dry room, dependently on the level of their standard.


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