Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Treat your body to something hot and steamy

The view from inside
 my steam shower.
I didn't have to look far for my latest body treatment, it's been in my bathroom all along. The steam shower.

I've never used the steam function in our walk-in shower; it just seemed like a hassle. Who has time in the morning? And in the evening the last thing I want to do is get all sweaty and have to redry my hair. But now that I'm getting physical, flipping the switch and hopping in my shower seemed worth a try.

I placed a towel on the tile bench seat, sat down and took a few deep breaths of hot, moist air.  The gloomy stillness made me feel a little anxious. I mean, when I take a shower I'm very task oriented - lathering, rinsing, exfoliating, shaving. Here in the same glassed-in stall, there was nothing to do except breathe and feel really naked.

I also felt a little lonely.  I don't know if it was caused by the elemental nature of the steam, but I had this primal urge to be surrounded by women from my ancestral tribe. Do the Welsh people have a tradition of steambaths? I wondered. I grabbed a bottle of conditioner, worked a big dollop through my hair and felt immediately better. I was multi-tasking! I leaned back and closed my eyes and let the steam do it's thing.

After about 15 minutes I was slick with sweat, my face was flushed, and my heart began to thump. I'd had enough. I turned on the shower and the contrast of the cool water to the cloying steam was deliciously refreshing.

After I toweled off and slipped into my pajamas, I felt warm and rosy and clean. And I must say, my skin glowed.

I liked how I felt so much, I've steamed a couple times more (Dr. Andrew Weil author of 8 Weeks to Optimum Health recommends three time a week.) To combat boredom I browse catalogues and old magazines - things that I'm just about ready to toss, because they do get soggy in there. I also shave my legs, because the steam allows for a really close shave.

I did a little digging and discovered there are many benefits to steam bathing, such as:

1. Flushes toxins from the body
2. Relaxes muscles and joints - recovery from a workout, help with arthritis
3. Clears out sinus and helps with respiratory problems
4. Great for the skin - opens the pores, cleanses, increases circulation
5. Relieves stress

My husband has a few other ideas about how our steam shower could be used for maximum enjoyment, but I think you get the idea. The bottom line is this - getting naked, hot and steamy is good for you!

Note: If you don't have access to a steam room, a soak in the bathtub has many of the same benefits.

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