Sauna Can Save the World

The Bath House recently hosted Mikkel Aaland, film maker, photographer and the author of “Sweat”, a pioneering study of the history and culture of communal bathing traditions first published in the 1970’s. 

Mikkel is a passionate advocate of the benefits of bathing and a leading player in “Sauna Aid”, an international initiative sponsored by the International Sauna Association (ISA) to provide movable sauna facilities and supportive services to people facing natural and man-made disasters. Inspired by the Fukushima disaster in Japan, Sauna Aid is raising money to deploy mobile saunas to places like Ukraine.  

When a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in 2011 it caused severe damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant and many people in the area lost their homes or were displaced as a result. In response, the Japanese Sauna Association set up a tent sauna in one of the affected areas.It allowed several thousand people to wash and provided some measure of comfort during a difficult time.

Sauna Aid is doing something similar in Ukraine where it is sending both tent and container saunas. The health benefits of sauna are obvious but it’s not only about public hygiene. The sauna or banya is also a place where people can be healed. As Mikkel says, there is no war in the sauna and the spiritual side brings people together. While the focus is on Ukraine at the moment, this type of humanitarian assistance could be relevant elsewhere in the future. You can donate to Sauna Aid via their website.    

Mikkel was also in London to showcase “Perfect Sweat,” a series of 7 documentary films based on his book “Sweat.” In it he explores the growth of communal bathing and the benefits it brings to individuals and communities across the world. Look out for the release of “Perfect Sweat” on streaming services later this year.  

Please watch the video for more.