Famous and important part of the culture of their country, Russian baths, otherwise known as sudatoriums, are a form of hot steamy bathing or sauna.
Stories of Russian baths dating back to the twelfth century have been found and many travelers from all over the world marveled at this wondrous custom. While there are various different forms, many traditionally included "schmeissing." This is a Yiddish term that refers to the rituals of Russian baths.
This involves soaping all over and rubbing with a soft raffia brush. This is followed by hot air being blown over the skin to raise the temperature further. Then your skin is scrubbed with a hard raffia brush. A bunch of birch twigs known as a "venik" is used to flail yourself and others. This is not a bizarre religious rite but an excellent way of stimulating your skin.
What are the benefits?
This is a rigorous form of hydrotherapy. The heat causes pores in the skin to open up and for you to sweat profusely. This in turn brings toxins trapped deep in the dermis to the surface where they can be washed away.
The scrubbing helps to increase circulation and oxygen flow around the body. It also helps to remove dead or damaged skin. While not advisable for those suffering from recent bruising or with very delicate skin, this is a deeply cleansing experience that will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated.
The steam is also good for your respiration. While the scrubbing may not be for the faint hearted, afterwards many report a great sense of relaxation and well being.