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Steam-bath accessories and rituals
To experience and enjoy the traditional Latvian steam-bath to its most, steam-bath accessories and rituals are as important as the bathhouse itself.
One of the most important steam-bath accessories is a birch besom for a steam bath used to flap or massage the body during a steam-bath procedure. Birch besoms for a steam bath are usually used in the wet herbal bathhouses – besides massaging the body they also serve as aroma therapy as the aroma of the besom in the heat can increase up to 10 times.
Birch besoms for a steam bath are made during summer from birch, oak, lime or juniper.
True bathhouse attendants, however, may also add wild flowers for both aroma and therapeutic effect. For instance, a lilac besom for a steam bath helps for bone pain and inflammation, lime blossoms cleanse the skin, maple gives the feeling of balance and harmony, juniper helps relieving stress, poplar besom for a steam bath removes the hangover syndrome etc. In summer freshly made besoms for a steam bath are used, in winter – dried and macerated in cold water before flapping.
You can flap the body yourself, but an experienced bathhouse attendant knows all the secrets of flapping, which can make the bathing experience both healing and pleasant for the body and soul. However, remember that in order to get flapped, you will have to sit in the bathhouse a couple of times to warm up. The body has to be prepared for the flapping procedure slowly. This can of course be best done under the supervision of an experienced bathhouse attendant.
In between taking the steam-baths or after you can also drink tea, which stimulates sweating and enlivens. At such times teas and infusions from meadow plants will be very delicious. During the steam-bath procedures you can also perform beauty treatment – apply clay masks, honey, creams, lotions, essential oils… These products can be bought in shops (both produced by world known brands and Latvian producers) and made yourself.
If the bathhouse has a shower, a contrast shower is recommended after the steam-bath. But if you are taking the bath at a water reservoir in winter, jumping in an ice-hole is a special adventure. Powerful sensations are guaranteed. Just remember to take care!