So - what is löyly and where does the word come from?
The etymology of the word "löyly" is linked to Old Finnish and Finno-Ugric roots. In Finnish, the verb "löylyttää" means to throw water on the hot stones to produce steam. The concept of löyly goes beyond just the physical act of creating steam; it embodies the entire sensory experience of sauna bathing, including the heat, the steam, and the atmosphere within the sauna.
Why is löyly important to an authentic Finnish sauna experience?
As a Finn, I (Juho) was raised to understand löyly as critical to sauna and holding a similar meaning to spirit, life or a "really good vibe." The word has no English-language equivalent. Quite often, after I have gotten out of the sauna, friends or family in Finland will ask "How was the löyly?" or "Was the löyly any good today?" I describe "optimal löyly" as that which lowers down on you softly from above and surrounds your body in a smooth but intense embrace of heat. Not-so-nice löyly hits you hard from the front to back and can make you wince. Also, you can actually be in a sauna with what you might normally describe as a poor löyly, however if you are perhaps with a friend you haven't seen in a long time, the löyly can still be described as "amazing!" So, for me, löyly is not just the steam but the OVERALL SAUNA EXPERIENCE. Everyone has a different answer to what löyly they like and resonate with! For every human personality, there is a löyly personality to match.
More than a physical sensation, löyly can embody a spiritual and communal ritual. It contributes not only to sensory delight, creating a warm atmosphere that can be both invigorating and calming at the same time. Löyly is a cleansing experience - for the body and also an opportunity for mental, emotional and even spiritual clarity and renewal. In communal saunas, the act of throwing water on stones becomes a shared, bonding experience, fostering social connections and conversations. The quality of löyly reflects the sauna host's hospitality and is a point of pride (at Kamu Sauna, we take this hospitality seriously!). As a cultural cornerstone, löyly preserves Finnish identity, connecting individuals to a deep-rooted heritage and making it an indispensable part of the broader sauna tradition. We Finns are so happy to share this tradition with the world!
Everyone has a different answer to what löyly they like and resonate with! For every human personality, there is a löyly personality to match.
Some tips to create optimal löyly:
We feel there's a löyly for everyone and that sauna is a global experience! We will leave you with some final questions: Where have you experienced optimal löyly? and How is löyly good to you?! Feel free to comment below.
We would like to acknowledge the Ktunaxa People, whose unceded ancestral Lands we reside and work within. We deeply value the opportunity to learn, share and grow within ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa. Further, we acknowledge, support and will continue to work towards our own responsibility and collective accountability regarding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
Kamu Sauna Experiences are LGBTQ2+ friendly and inclusive.