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The Health Benefits of Infrared-sauna Therapy

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Central Texas’ only pod base infrared sauna spa, CYL Sauna Studio, is encouraging Austinites to reach better health by sweating it out.

By Chantal Rice, Photo courtesy of CYL Sauna Studio

OK, I’ll admit it: I am a sweaty gal. I have come to terms with the fact that I occasionally feel swampy and clammy and often (particularly during about nine months of the year in Austin) emit a natural glow that has nothing to do with a suntan or bronzer. Friends who have worked out with me can attest to my less-than-genteel ability to practically cascade sweat about within a 5-foot radius during athletic activities. Alas, I have accepted this bodily inconvenience as a natural occurrence, brazenly insisting that though I may perspire (occasionally at inappropriate times and often when others are seemingly chilled to the bone), it in no way means I am less feminine, well-mannered or dignified.

That’s why when I first learned of the new CYL Sauna Studio in South Austin, a luxury infrared-sauna studio that professes sweating is the body’s “safe and natural way to heal and stay healthy,” I had to check it out. After all, the company’s mantra is “Sweat happens,” a maxim I can definitely support, especially if enhancing my natural ability to perspire contributes to a healthier me.

Brooke Stubbs, the owner of CYL in Austin, says she first learned about infrared saunas when she visited CYL’s studio in Nashville, Tenn. After just one visit, she was hooked.

“I loved the way it made me feel lighter and more energized,” Stubbs says. “I slept so soundly that night. When I woke up the next morning, I couldn’t wait to go back. I was addicted!”

Stubbs spent the next year researching infrared therapy and learning about the health benefits—which include pain relief, detoxification, weight loss, stress reduction and skin rejuvenation—before opening her own CYL franchise in Austin.

“It’s all the benefits that you don’t see right away that make me really excited about bringing infrared saunas to the Austin market, from reducing wrinkles to improved cardiovascular health,” she notes.

Convinced I should check out this life-changing sweat house (Indeed, CYL stands for “change your life.”), I booked an appointment, unsure of what to expect other than a moisture-laden experience.

The CYL Sauna Studiois a well-lit, clean and welcoming space that does not at all feel as though sweaty people are in and out all day, like some fetid gym. Stubbs and her staff go to great lengths to ensure the studio is a sanitary place their clients feel comfortable spending time sweating it out. There are several private suites, cozy rooms featuring individual speakers emanating calming music, low light and personal infrared-sauna pods.

Unlike conventional saunas that heat the air with steam, causing the body to sweat only at the surface and making the air difficult to breathe, CYL’s sauna pods relyon soothing infrared heat that is dry and a lot gentler. Espoused by the likes of the Mayo Clinic, NASA and the World Health Organization, infrared-sauna therapy is entirely safe and, according to CYL, offers seven times more detoxifying than a traditional sauna.

Thoroughly hydrated and ready for some heated relaxation, I disrobe (As they say at CYL, “Less is more,” and the experience is best had in your birthday suit.) and clamber into my personal sauna pod, a cylinder not entirely dissimilar from a tanning-bed apparatus. I set my concerns about claustrophobia aside, knowing my head will never be inside the pod and that at any point, I can slide the pod’s door further down my body to feel more at ease, all while continuing to reap the benefits of the infrared heat.

As Stubbs has suggested, the first half of my 30-minute sweat session is quite calming. I am cozied into my pod, my mind wandering aimlessly as I nearly fall asleep in the warmth of its quiet embrace, all the while burning calories and detoxifying my system. Halfway through my session, a sweat technician pops in to place a cool cloth on my forehead, which further soothes me. It is at this point I notice my body starting to react a bit differently. I realize my heart rate is elevated, a sign that my body is being warmed from the inside out and that my blood flow has increased. I also realize I am sweating much more, but I remain relaxed and comfy. Just when I reach the point of my heat threshold and long for a reprieve, a tiny alarm sounds near my head, alerting me that my session is complete.

Sweaty and unsightly (and caring not one darn bit), I saunter, totally blissed out, from the studio and to my car, then drive, albeit somewhat lackadaisically, home amid hordes of Austin traffic, not bothered by it at all. Soon, I realize, for the first time in weeks, my seasonal allergies are alleviated, and when I go to bed, I fall into a peaceful, relaxing rest, getting easily the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months.

BENEFITS OF INFRARED-SAUNA THERAPY

  • Detoxification
  • Anti-aging
  • Skin rejuvenation
  • Weight loss
  • Sports recovery
  • Stress reduction
  • Pain relief
  • Improved vascular elasticity, causing lowered blood pressure
  • Improved circulation
  • Wound healing
  • Reduced cellulite
  • Relief from chronic disease
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