by Kristina Smith
For thousands of years, people have sought steam baths, hot spring soaks, mineral and sitz baths to maintain and revitalize health. Sebastian Kneipp, a 19th century Bavarian priest and founder of the naturopathic medicine movement, believed that disease could be be cured using water, as it improves elimination, decreases inflammation and stimulates circulation. Want to give it a go? Here are hydrotherapy experiences worth packing your bags for!
An Age-Old Tradition
Scandinavian countries are known for their wellness-infused lifestyles, emphasizing wholesomeness, healthy eating and closeness to nature. Their use of baths and sauna as a mode of detoxification and relaxation is a practice that dates back thousands of years.
Wanting to understand this traditional experience, I ventured to Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Ontario on a cold and blustery winter day. The Spa is nestled amongst 25 acres of birch, Canadian maple and pine trees, with expansive views of the surrounding escarpment – including skiers cruising down the nearby slopes.
“Shhhh” signs posted at the entrance remind guests to use their spa voices and turn off digital devices. The air smells of eucalyptus, and I glimpsed bathers in clouds of steam on my way in.
The Nordic bathing ritual goes like this: Relax in the sauna, eucalyptus steam room or hot baths, breathing deeply. Take a cold plunge or shower to close pores and flush toxins. Relax in a quiet indoor or outdoor area. Repeat the circuit as many times as you wish.
I spent about four hours at the spa that day, enjoying the various baths, which are spread out across the landscaped grounds and feel very natural with their stonework and waterfalls. Curved nooks and crannies offer places to spread out, so it didn’t feel like being in a hot tub with strangers.
Though the air was chilly, I was very comfortable relaxing by the outdoor fireplaces on Muskoka chairs in between soaks, and felt incredibly at peace given the ambiance and quiet. The steam room in particular feels as though you’ve settled into a jar of vapor rub – you can literally feel your pores and sinuses open up.
Completely refreshed and blissful after my visit, I slept deeply and peacefully that night.
Looking for other fabulous hydrotherapy spots worth traveling to? Iceland is famous for it’s natural “hot pots” and Blue Lagoon, while Jordan’s Ma’In hot springs have biblical roots. Mexico boasts hundreds of mineral springs; and in Bath, England you can experience healing amongst Roman ruins. ~ Kristina Smith, Editor