By Brenda Ward
Mist drifts in lazy clouds across the dim lighting in Chuan Spa’s steam room as I start to relax and breathe in the moist, fragrant air. Soon my skin is slick and I can feel my pores opening as I breathe in the humid air.
Steam is the perfect way to de-stress and detoxify as you escape winter’s chill. I’ve come to The Langham today to meet Chuan Spa director Victoria Stewart and learn about this ancient method of improving wellbeing.
“Compared to a sauna, the steam room is what I call a wet heat,” says Stewart. “It’s very good for the lungs and particularly for those with bronchial problems.
“In winter, the cold can be very drying. When you breathe in dry air, the body has to compensate by using moisture. If the air is humid, you don’t have to moisten the air that you’re breathing.”
In Scandinavia, heat and cold are used alternately to stimulate the body, she explains. At The Langham, the steam room can be paired with the ice experience, rubbing the body with handfuls of fresh ice shards which replicates the freezing-water plunge often used in northern countries to close the pores.
“You use steam to warm up, and then apply the ice directly to your body,” she says. “It constricts the blood vessels, so you get a rush of blood to the organs.”
The steam room’s fragrance is a herbal blend of chrysanthemum, cloves and peppermint, which also has therapeutic effects. Sitting and steaming, you find yourself relaxing, moving into a more mindful state.
The stone-clad Chuan Spa at The Langham has had close to 50,000 people through its doors since it opened in 2009. Its name means ‘water flowing’, as at the zen-style entry, in the spa, and by the heated pool.
– Brenda Ward