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||RUSSIAN BANYA (STEAM
By Igor Boutenko, President of the RUSSIAN BANYA INSTITUTE
Steam bath helps to cure diseases when all other means are
There is nothing in the world more joyful and useful than a
Steam bath cleanses not only your body but the whole essence
of a man.-Socrates
Medicine is good but Banya is better. -Peter the Great
Humanity learned long time ago about the tremendous
possibilities of the three natural doctors: sun, air and
water. They give you health and strength. Just like steel is
tempered, so are ouir bodies hardened with these three
"Where there's warmth, there's good." The old saying has
deep and old roots. The ancient Chinese medicine was based
on two main principles: yin and yang. Yang represents the
idea of life warmth, Yin the idea of cold and dampness.
Prevalence of warmth over cold in the human body is
essential condition of a healthy individual.
The Nobel Prize winner August Crog, who discovered the
regulation mechanism of capillary blood circulation, thought
and justly so, that when we expose our capillary, these
"little hearts" to warmth, we increase the energy balance of
our organisms. Galen, a famous healer of ancient Rome,
stated that one of the reasons that our bodies age, is poor
perspiring of the skin, for with years the membrane becomes
tight and pores get more narrow. He invariable recommended
steam baths, which help to widen pores and increase
Russian Banya. The people's wisdom and belief in the healing
properties of Banya were confirmed by the research work of
scientists in different parts of the world. With cautious
and rational approach banya helps to normalize blood
pressure. It also helps people with diabetes and those who
have kidney problems. It is exceptionally good for people
with rheumatism and for those who have problems with their
One of the banya's magical secrets is in it's capability to
train our thermoregulation systems and improve secretion of
What is the advantage of Russian Banya? It is in the way
that the steam is increased. It is done with the help of
kamenka (a stone stove). If you want more hot steam just
throw some more water on the kamenka.
In his book "Description of Moscovia" a German scholar Adam
Olearium tells us that in Russia there is not either a city
or a village without banya. "Russians can withstand
extraordinary hot steam. They lie down on the benches and
request others to whip and rub bodies with a warmed-up whisk
made of oak tree twigs. In winter they jump into the snow,
rub their bodies with it and then again get back into the
banya. Such dramatic temperature change hardens their
There is another noteworthy side of the Russian banya. Even
a very scrupulous analysis carried out by Russian, Finnish
and German hygienists in Russian banya could not find any
germs. The heated steam makes it sterile.
A few words about skin and the impact temperature has on it.
"Skin is an organ which helps us to tell the state of health
and even the life story of an individual" wrote Wilhelm
Winternits, a professor from Vienna. Fire square feet of
skin cover our bodies, it weighs 1/5 of the total body
weight. It is our largest organ!
There is a network of capillaries and receptors in the human
skin. When it is exposed to the heated steam a signal goes
to the brain. From it, impulses are transmitted to the nerve
centers which regulate opening or narrowing of the blood
vessels. More blood flows to the skin. The metabolism rate
accelerates. It is at this moment that intensive
perspiration takes place. With the sweat toxins are
released. One session in banya produces from 500 to 1500
grams of sweat. Not surprisingly so, since human skin
produces about 3-4 grams of sweat per hour, but if the
temperature is increased up to 52C and humidity to 95%, the
amount of sweat jumps up to 20 to 30 times.
In his book "The Secret Wisdom of the Human Body" and
outstanding Russian Dr. Alexander Zahlmanov writes that life
is a constant movement of liquids between and in the cells.
When this movement is uninterrupted everything goes well.
But if there is an interruption in the flow of these
life-giving streams, diseases set in. Dr. Zahlmanov highly
praised Russian banya for it's ability to regulate movements
of liquids in the body.
We know that skin breathes. It facilitates work of the lungs
and kidneys. It gets rid of toxins and releases excessive
water. Sebaceous glands also have outer openings in the form
of pores that lubricate our body with a thinnest coat of
valuable natural emulsion. It softens and protects skin from
dryness, makes it supple, resilient and shiny.
Premature lines... How much they worry women. Meanwhile
their origin is quite prosaic - poor functioning of the
sebaceous glands. As a result skin loses it's resilience.
But it requires training! Just like sportsmen do that with
their muscles. And hot banya is marvelous skin trainer. What
is most interesting about banya, is that it engages
deposited blood. An average individual has about 5 to 6
liters of blood. One liter is deposited. And this reserved
blood, rich in valuable nutrients gives our cells a new
charge. After a session in banya people breathe with ease.
And not only because their pores are cleansed thoroughly,
but also because of the increased blood circulation which,
in its turn, stimulates skin breathing. One feels as if s/he
was born again.
A real Russian banya is inconceivable without cold water.
After hot steam follows a pool or shower with cold water.
When it is cold, blood vessels get narrow. Blood stream
turns to internal organs. To the heart. From the cold water
- back into the banya. A new stream of blood rushes from the
heart to the periphery. Blood vessels open again. This is
what we call gymnastics for the blood vessels!
>From ancient times people valued banya for its ability to
relieve fatigue and stress. Scientists discovered the
mechanism of this magical effect. Banya considerably
decreases content of the lactic acid in the body. The
Bolshoi ballet dancers built their own banya which helps
them to restore their strength, relieve nervous tension
after the performance which is not an easy thing to do.
Besides restoring one's stamina, banya helps to get rid of
A special feature of the Russian banya is a whisk of twigs.
These whisks can be made from different trees: oak, birch,
eucalyptus. They also can be made from different herbs:
sage, nettle, and etc. We would like to emphasize special
properties of the oak-tree whisks. An oak-tree leaf is dense
enough to withstand frequent use and it quickly absorbs
heat. But most important are those chemicals from the leaves
that penetrate your body during a session in banya.
Whipping with an oak whisk is, in a way, a massage. But, in
fact, the effect of banya will increase tenfold if you
recieve a full body massage after it.
We hold a view that it is better to try once than to hear
about it a hundred times. We hope that those who don't know
yet what the Russian banya is, will try it and love it.
After all, it's Vip, Vigor and Vitality.
LIGHT STEAM TO YOU!
Victoria & Igor Boutenko
Springs Garden (raw) Cafe
At Jackson Hotsprings
2253 Hwy 99 North #58
Ashland, Oregon 97520