What is Aufguss?
Aufguss, from the German “infusion”, is—in short—a multi-sensory wellness ritual. It stems from the idea that saunas serve a greater purpose than that of sweat alone. Why has this ancient form of thermotherapy prevailed? A harmonious dance of heat, each experience is as unique as it is therapeutic and meditative.
What is Aufguss?
In the simplest of terms, an Aufguss is a wellness experience that occurs in a sauna. It is led by an Aufgussmeister—or in our case, a Ritual Artisan—they pour essential-oil-infused water onto the sauna’s hot stones and use rhythmical towel movements to circulate the fragrant air. Some are accompanied by music whilst others let the sounds of towel-waving dominate the experience. No two Aufguss are exactly alike. Here, at Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature, our artisans place snowballs infused with essential oils on the burning stones rather than pour water—a nod to our northern Canadian heritage.
Many types of Aufguss exist and can be learnt in dedicated European schools. The three most commonly known are “classic”, “show” and “standard”. A “classic” Aufguss focuses on relaxing and health benefits. The “show” is all entertainment whilst the “standard” is a mix of the two.
Around the world
Saunas are commonplace all over the world. A standard offering in gyms, hotels and spas worldwide. However, when it comes to the “how-to” of saunas, experiences differ between Eastern, Central and Northern Europe and the rest of the world. Whilst Finland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland and Hungary—to name a few—see sauna-going as a way of life that includes deeply social and creative experiences, the sauna experience outside of Europe is often less inspired: a mean to an end. A great part of the European appeal of sweat culture is the Aufguss. From schools to competitions and events, an Aufguss ritual is a cultural event.
The origin of sauna culture is hard to pinpoint. It is estimated to be a social Northern tradition—particularly Finnish—dating about 2000 years back. When a ritual is so ancient, it gets a little lost in the mist of time.
As far as Aufguss goes, it is most commonly believed to have come from the need to replace the air inside a sauna. Being enclosed spaces where people sweat heavily, a need to re-oxygenate the space occurs. Every hour or so, a window or door would be opened. To restore the temperature and the humidity effectively, water would be thrown onto the sauna’s hot stone and a rotating towel would be used to distribute the vapour—the ancestor of today’s Aufguss.
This experience slowly grew from being a necessity to maintaining a healthy lifestyle to a wellness ritual. This is especially true in Germanic and Nordic countries. What started as simple gestures became more and more refined towel movements. A complex and harmonious choreography. The addition of essential oils and music also came with time to enrich this multi-sensory experience further.
A sauna practice comes with many benefits. As one finds themselves in hyperthermia, the body starts storing heat, dilating pores, eliminating toxins and cleansing the body. As sweat beads on brows and trickles down, a state of meditation, introspection and calm are achieved. In a light feverish state, the body reacts by strengthening the immune system.
During an Aufguss, aromatherapy is introduced through pure essential oils. These volatile and aromatic plant derivatives can act on body and mind. For relaxation: pine, sandalwood, cypress and vetiver. For emotion: lavender, chamomile and jasmine. For invigoration: eucalyptus, mint, lemon, orange and bergamot. To learn more about essential oils and the ones we use at the saw, click here.
After extreme heat, comes cold. Cooling off after time spent in a sauna is a necessity. The thermal shock of walking through a cold waterfall releases adrenaline. And the following period of rest releases endorphins. Aufguss ritual and thermal cycle go hand in hand.
How to become a part of it?
For those who dream of being somewhere else, consider becoming a Rituals Manager within Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature.
Imagine starting your day by curating a wellness journey for each of our guests through education and guidance on the benefits of the thermal cycle and our sauna rituals. Inspired by sweat culture across the world and our own Canadian landscape, each sauna ritual brings revitalization and respite to those who experience them. You will encourage your team and fellow Rituals Artisans to explore their own practice in movement, breath, essential oil knowledge, as well as helping them reconnect with the elements. Your daily mission will be to actively participate alongside guests, leading the way for each of them to discover the benefits of sweating, cold water and resting. You’ll always be learning and aspiring to explore your very own ritual journey.
Be a part of something extraordinary, apply to be our Rituals Manager today.
And now, the only thing left for you to do, is experience it for yourself.