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Infrared heat has gone mainstream and it’s awesome for our health, but are you in the know? Today we discuss the magic that is infrared light waves and share all the need-to-know facts to get you started.

If you’re a fan of a good sweat and healthy detoxes, look no further than your closest infrared sauna, yoga class, mat or pod. Invisible to the naked eye, infrared light waves are absorbed into our skin and experienced as radiant heat. Detoxification via sweat, cell growth and body tissue healing is stimulated as the three different types of waves penetrate our bodies. Dr. Frank Lipman promotes infrared treatments because “its radiant heat is known to penetrate the skin more deeply than traditional saunas, better aiding in a number of restorative body processes.” Better still is that there are many easy (and affordable) ways to reap these benefits!

How Infrared Waves Help Heal Bodies

Energy produced by the sun travels in the form of electromagnetic waves, including ultraviolet (harmful to living things), visible (light we can see; the rainbow) and infrared (safe and invisible to the naked eye). Within the infrared spectrum there are three wavelengths that penetrate the body to a different degree and provide unique benefits:

  1. Far infrared (the most common wavelength found in infrared products) penetrates the body and increases core body temperature. Touted benefits range from deep detoxification, decreased stiffness, fatigue and chronic pain to weight-loss, lowered blood pressure, cardiac benefits and more.
  2. Medium infrared penetrates soft tissue, where inflammation occurs, and assists in pain reduction and healing by increasing circulation and thereby delivering more oxygen to damaged cells.
  3. Near infrared helps our skin rejuvenate by increasing cell turnover and reducing cell death. The result: clear, plump, glowing skin.

FIT Favorite Ways to Enjoy Infrared

Infrared Saunas – The easiest way to reap the benefits of all three wavelengths is to book a 25-50 minute session at your local infrared boutique (yes, that is a thing) or spa.. Much like a normal sauna, you strip down to your birthday suit, step in and let the sweat begin. Unlike standard dry-heat saunas, infrared saunas are typically small, 1-2 person wood and glass chambers that produce moist warmth that is more tolerable than the dry heat in traditional saunas. 

What to expect: Calorie burn and pouring sweat just from sitting. A 30-minute infrared sauna session burns 300+ calories. The impressive amount of sweat is your body working to keep you cool, AKA proof it’s working!

Heated Infrared Yoga – A more active method is to sign-up for a yoga class heated with infrared panels. This is NOT like a Bikram class — the heat doesn’t surpass 95 degrees or make you nauseous and dizzy.

What to expect: The gentle warmth loosens and primes your muscles so you can skip the dreaded first, stiff downward dog and get right to enjoying the flow. 

Infrared at Home With a Sauna, Pod or Mat – Yup, you can bring the spa-experience home!  For the cost of 10-15 classes or saunas you can get a portable pod or mat to use in the comfort of your own home.

What to expect in the pod: After an easy set up (plug in and place included stool), you zip yourself into a small chamber leaving your head and hands free. So grab a book (or the remote) and enjoy a deliciously healing sweat session. Note the majority of pods only provide far-infrared heat (see above for what you’re missing by forgoing short and medium).

What to expect on the mat: Less sweaty but thoroughly healing, a mat is the easiest way to incorporate infrared heat into your routine. Similar to a heating pad (but without the hot spots and coils) these mats can be used in bed, on the sofa, draped over your office chair, or wherever you’re able to reap the benefits.

(Images by  Hotel Zandvoort, Higher Dose, Chroma Yoga)

Where to go in NYC

Higher Dose is the OG of infrared boutiques here in the city. They have two locations downtown with a third opening soon.

Yoga Vida is the place to go for heated infrared yoga. Their Heated Flow classes are warmed with full spectrum infrared panels and taught by knowledgeable instructors with fun, creative classes. Note the Heated Flow classes are only available at the NoHo, Tribeca and Dumbo locations.