A ritual originally derived from the Red Indians of North America but it was the Germans who introduced the concept into spas. Taking on a variety of different formats, the sauna ceremony Matthew experienced was an hour long and was accompanied. It includes a theatrical towel waving performance that encourages the flow of the heat towards the guests, which itself has therapeutic benefits, while other sensations are also introduced to the experience such as balls of ice scented with aromatherapy oils, and an array of temperatures over the course of the experience.
“Practitioners guide you through experiences such as ‘the Sahara’ for example” says Matthew, continuing: “in world championships for example, they have fancy dress versions – it’s a really interesting and an all round experience that encompasses all the senses.”
Matthew says: “the first time I saw the art of Aufguss I was on a skiing holiday with my wife in Austria, and they had a sauna meister who lead the experience. It was like nothing I had experienced before and I thought we must have a saunameister when we open our new spa! After the trip I set about finding someone who could come and train our team to do the same thing, but after a year of asking I wasn’t getting anywhere, until I went to Professional Spa and Beauty and someone put me in touch with Sauna Meister, Lay Pang Ong, who is based in Copenhagen and is well-regarded as a pioneer of sauna reinvention.”
Having bought flights for Pang to come to the UK and train three members of the Rudding Park team, as well as working with spa members and guests, the enthusiasm he engendered was palpable, so they decided to create regular performances from then on.
Much like any sauna experience, the benefits of the practice range from a meditative state of mind to improving cardiovascular strength, boosting the immune system, as well as alleviating stress and pain. Circulating the aromatic air leaves the participants both mentally and physically revived.
At Rudding Park they now offer free 10 minute sauna ceremonies whenever possible as part of the wider spa experience: “the most we have ever had is 35 people in the sauna at one time” says Matthew who has been struck by the popularity of the practice and the positive feedback.
In February however, the experience will be taken to another level, with three workshops taking place on Thursday 1st February, Friday 2nd February and Saturday 3rd February, hosted by Art of Aufguss Champion Lay Pang Ong himself. Guests will experience a classic Aufguss performance by Pang, a theory session on the principals and benefits of the ritual and a practical session with coaching to develop their skills, before performing a ceremony, bringing a sense of theatre to the sauna