SaunaBar’s infrared sauna pods

Sauna therapy has been around for for centuries, boasting many health benefits from de-stressing to detoxing.

There are a handful of spas here in Southern California where you can enjoy a good sweat session and burn calories, all without having to exercise. While sitting in a traditional sauna can still provide these benefits, infrared saunas are the latest ritual many wellness devotees incorporate into their routines to take the perspiration to another level.

One of the proponents in the infrared sauna sphere is SaunaBar in Brentwood, where clients spent 40 minutes inside a “Saunapod” that is an egg-shaped capsule lined with 440 jade stones, which have been used as part of ancient healing methods to treat stress, anxiety and blood circulation congestion.

The reception of SaunaBar

Upon entering SaunaBar, you’ll be greeted by friendly front-desk staff who are ready to walk you through the process or field any questions you may have. You are then taken into a private room with the Saunapod; some rooms have two pods inside, which can be booked if you want to bring someone along for the experience too.

It’s advised to wear shorts, a thin t-shirt and socks during your session, during which heat waves are said to penetrate the body up to 10 inches into the exterior epidermis. The pod, which uses both far and near infrared sauna rays, is set between 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which the entire neck head down will be exposed to. For newbies, the pod is set around 122 degrees. Your head rests outside for easy breathing as the pod’s temperature helps your body heat up from the inside-out. (As a contrast, traditional saunas, which is around 185 degrees, heats the air around you).

After getting settled in, a staff member will spritz some aromatherapy in the room to complete the ambience, with soft light and soothing music. For the next 40 minutes, it’s time to enter a deep meditation or take a nap to unwind. Some similar spas may have TVs in treatment rooms, but this is just 40 minutes away from the noise and electronics we are glued to for the rest of the day.

A treatment room inside SaunaBar’s spa

If the pod gets too stuffy at any point (yet it never gets too unbearable), there are handles that allow you to push the top off for a few seconds to get some air, as well as easy-to-reach buttons to adjust the temperature.

The last 10-15 minutes are when things get more intense and it’s common to experience even more sweating. In one session, clients can burn up to 600 calories and continue to be in a burning mode once they leave — it’s because the heat gets the heart rate up, similar to doing a cardio exercise. (For those who are unable to exercise because of an injury, this is the perfect way to get around that and still get your heart pumping).

Despite the exposure to the heat, the lasting benefits — reducing inflammation, relieving muscle pain, boosting the immune system and lowering cortisol levels — far outweigh that brief period of discomfort. Repeated sauna therapy over a two-week period found a significant drop in blood pressure, one Japanese study found.

Already upon emerging from the pod, soft and glowing skin plus an overall calmness are hard to ignore.

The SaunaPod is safe for frequent use and maintenance (memberships range from 8 to 16 sessions), not just in the moments when we need rapid “detoxification” to jumpstart our rundown and sluggish bodies. With regular visits, we may notice our immune systems stronger.

In addition to the infrared sauna, SaunaBar also offers a lymphatic compression massage (to stimulate lymph fluids and boost skin’s elasticity), magnetic resonance therapy (to promote energetic healing), and a 30-day holistic weight loss program (clients have slimmed down 10-20 pounds in three weeks). The spa sells a host of supplements, skin care, and essential oils too.

A single session is $70 but packages and memberships are available, as well as a one-week introductory offer of $199.

SaunaBar is located at 11677 San Vicente Blvd. #208, Los Angeles, CA 90049. Visit www.saunabar.com or call (310) 652-5522 for more information.

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