Holidays offer a perfect time to slow down. One of our favorite ways to relax is with a book. Here is a selection books at RITUAL that we have found enlightening and inspiring.

Overexposure: A Story About a SkierChad Sayers
Missing ski season already? Check out this amazing read from BC local @chad.sayers, reflecting on his 20+ years of professional freeskiing. From exploring the far-flung peaks across the ski mountaineering world to dangling over a “600-meter death ride” that ultimately made him hang up his poles for good, we loved reading his powerful reflections alongside the extremely impressive roster of photographers who contributed works to this book. Give it a read between sauna circuits!

Little Book of Hygge by Meik WikingThe Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy LivingMeik Wiking
Looking for clues why Scandinavian people top the happiness charts? Author, Meik Wiking claims it’s because of Hygge, which means a sense of comfort, togetherness and well-being. It’s the sensation you get when you’re sharing food and easy conversation with a person you love, or curled up on a sofa in cozy socks during a storm. It’s a feeling of home, safety or warmth. This book will introduce you to Danish life and inspire you to get comfy and take a break. It will also guide you on how to embrace hygge and become happier.

Little Book of  Lykke by Meik WikingThe Little Book of Lykke: The Danish Search for the World’s Happiest PeopleMeik Wiking
Meet The Little Book of Lykke: A fun and colourful peek into Meik Wiking’s ongoing quest to discover and distill the secrets to human happiness from different cultures around the world. And hey, as the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark (which is continually ranked one of the happiest countries in the world), he’s worth hearing out! This easy read is equal parts thoughtful and funny, and will inspire you to consider how you can carve out more moments for a little lykke (that’s Danish for happiness) in your life.

Oak Papers by James CantonThe Oak PapersJames Canton
Combining personal anecdote with thoughtful reflection, James Canton writes about true forest magic and what happens when we slow down to hear the wisdom of the natural world. Based on his experiences meditating for two years under a huge, 800+ year old oak tree in England, The Oak Papers explores what meaning trees can offer now to our modern world and why humanity is in deep need of this healing relationship with nature.

Sisu: Find Your Resilience - Justyn BarnesSisu: Find Your ResilienceJustyn Barnes
There isn’t a single English word that exactly translates the Finnish word “sisu”, so we’ll try with many: Sisu is about possessing an inner courage and perseverance, or a sort of stoic and spunky determination. In other words, it’s about having the guts to pursue even the most impossible task. It’s a concept that Finns champion as part of their national identity, and believe us, you need lots of sisu to live through those dark winters year after year! Pick up a copy of this book for a boost of resiliency in any season and learn a little bit more about Finnish culture (beyond the sauna) along the way.

The Nordic Theory of Everything - Anu PartanenThe Nordic Theory of EverythingAnu Partanen
Based on her experience of becoming an American citizen, Finnish journalist Anu Partanen thoughtfully compares cultural differences between the States and the Nordic world she left behind. While Nordic countries are commonly dismissed by Americans for their socialist political economic structures, Partanen’s book illustrates how well Nordic culture promotes independence and equality among its citizens – showing they actually experience more individual freedom than the Land of the Free itself.

sweating is a super power, the health benefits of sauna

Warmer weather is approaching, and we are thinking about heat, how our bodies react and why we sweat. Those who sauna can appreciate the benefits of a good sweat, and many of the positive health effects that come with it.

Dogs pant, seals pee on their fins to cool down, but it is human’s unique ability to sweat from our biggest organ that sets us apart from other species. Journalism professor and author, Sarah Everts‘ book The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration explores the complex and fascinating science behind sweating, an adaptive evolutionary tool that gave us humans a competitive edge. Is sweating healthy? Our ability to run long distances on two feet while keeping cool made us better equipped to hunt down prey or gather food under the hot sun. While some may deem sweating as an unsavoury topic, Everts’ excitement over the topic is evident, each chapter includes an in-depth look at the historic and scientific findings along with interesting anecdotes.

But have you ever wondered, what is sweat, exactly? Sweat is made up of almost 99 percent water with trace amounts of salt, sugar, ammonia and urea. Everts explains “the human body is inherently leaky.” Food and drugs percolate from what’s currently in our bloodstream. Basically anything in your blood that’s small can percolate out of your sweat, such as nicotine, alcohol and traces of that strong espresso you just drank. Everts gives a unique visual that is guaranteed to stay with you; imagine 8 billion citizens of planet Earth stepping out of a sauna at the same time, according to her calculations, it could produce enough fluid to power Niagara Falls.

Sweat, also called perspiration, comes from (mostly) two kinds of glands; the eccrine glands which are found all over your body, (normally clear and odourless), and the stronger smelling sweat that comes from our apocrine glands (found in our armpits and other places). Everts describes our sweat glands as tiny elongated tubas running along our skin. Humans are born with between 2-5 million sweat pores. “Collectively, our species’ sweat glands number in the quadrillions — more than there are stars in the Milky Way,” says Everts. And there is evidence that both genetics and the climate may have an effect on how much we sweat. So if you live in a hot place, your body may become more efficient at regulating your temperature.

Besides regulating our body temperature, there is some evidence that healthy sweating from saunas can improve heart health. Everts describes one particular study with Finnish men who regularly used saunas four times a week. Therapeutic sweating in saunas increases blood flow to vital organs and some studies indicate this may help excrete toxins like bisphenol A (BPA) and other heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic, mercury and lead. Although it is yet to be determined as to how this affects human health. Everts stresses it is primarily our excretory organs like our kidneys and liver that are involved in the detoxification of waste from our systems.

A few benefits of regular sauna bathing include:
1) If summer heat is taking its toll on you, practicing heat acclimation with sauna can help your body adapt to hotter temperatures by training its natural response to heat stress. Through consistent sauna sessions, you’ll see a reduction in heart rate, internal body temperature responses, and sweat electrolyte concentrations. It may seem gradual, but with every session you’ll start to see a difference as you build up a tolerance to the heat.
2) Sauna sessions help you relax and manage stress all year long. Studies have shown that sauna sessions decrease cortisol levels (our stress hormone) in the body.
3) Hot /cold contrast therapy improves sleep quality — even on hot summer nights. Increasing the amount of deep sleep we get can in turn improve memory and problem-solving abilities.
4) Even on hot days, sauna bathing has an immediate positive effect on blood pressure.
5) Spending time in the sauna can improve mental well-being through reconnection and community (no phone distractions in a sauna!). Multiple studies have shown improvements in mental health through the Finnish tradition of sauna and hydrotherapy.
6) Reduces muscle aches. Blood vessels relax and dilate in a sauna, blood flow increases, helping reduce tension in the joints and relieve soreness.

sweating in sauna remove toxins

The average person can sweat out a pint (0.5 liters) of water during a short stint in a sauna. One study indicates that the removal of toxins by heavy sweating has the ability to improve overall health in individuals and can even help with some diseases. Regular sweating in saunas can also benefit some skin conditions. Sweating can cleanse pores by pushing out impurities like bacteria which can improve acne and other skin problems. Although it’s important to wash your face both before and after with cool water and hydrate well with fresh water after a visit to the sauna.

Everts’ book delves into the history of sweat and the many unique aspects of how other species regulate their body temperature, (many in very bizarre ways). And although Everts doesn’t believe that sweating is important for detoxification – she still purports that healthy sweating is a superpower in its own right. Our ability to regulate body temperature, this magical cooling effect on our skin is the main function of sweat. “Our cooling down system is as critical to our continued existence as breathing,” says Everts.

Study: Mahlouji, Mahboubeh et al. “Sweating as a Preventive Care and Treatment Strategy in Traditional Persian Medicine.” Galen medical journal vol. 9 e2003. 25 Dec. 2020, doi:10.31661/gmj.v9i0.2003

the social aspect of saunahouses

At RITUAL we love all things sauna and talking about the wellness benefits of sauna, cold plunge and contrast therapy. Today we are considering the SOCIAL aspect of traditional sauna practice as the world is taking note of the vital community benefits that come from sweating together.

Does Sauna = Happy?  We Think So.

A staple of Finnish culture for centuries, the social aspect of sauna plays a significant role in its enduring popularity. The Happiness Report just came out and Finns are on top again. We believe that social times in the sauna and community are at the heart of it. Beyond the physical sweat and relaxation, the sauna is a space for people to gather, connect and bond. In recent years, with more Nordic spas and sauna houses popping up, North Americans are appreciating the camaraderie of sauna culture.

Sauna bathing is a democratic experience that fosters a feeling of belonging. In Finnish style, our RITUAL sauna circuit is where you gather and share space with people who enjoy sauna, welcoming each other and conversing. Or just enjoying a silent sweat! Whether introvert or extrovert, being around others in a mellow way can be healing.

Sauna has been called “the new pub,” a healthier alternative for meetups with friends.

sauna is the new pub

Sauna As It’s own International Language

Those who love sauna can tell you that sense of community extends globally. Many people seek out a saunahouse when visiting new cities and countries. Even if you don’t speak the local language, the culture of sauna is a welcoming and familiar place where you know what to do, what to expect, and can sit quietly by yourself or with friends, soaking in the culture of the new space you’re in.

When you visit a new sauna, be it in a different city, province, or country, it’s special to experience that same feeling of unspoken communal-being, in a place you’ve never been with people you’ve never met. Seeking out saunahouses while travelling (aka taking a #saunasafari) is a neat way to connect with a place’s local community as well as bring new breadth to your own wellness practice. Self-care is so often branded as a thing you do for yourself at home or in habitual spaces, but to engage in familiar rituals in an unfamiliar environment offers a fresh take that adds depth.

“The atmosphere in every saunahouse has its own flavour and vibe. It’s fun for me (as a designer and sauna lover) to explore how the combination of thoughtfully curated spaces and organic community connections grow these mini cultural hubs that feel universal and yet unique.”   -Essery, RITUAL Nordic Host, #saunasafari traveller

Whether in a steamy quiet corner of a hammam-style sauna in Istanbul, in the large public saunas of Helsinki, among the cathedral-like spaces of Therme spa in the Swiss mountain town of Vals, or vibing out with breathwork at Othership in Toronto — you will be with others who know and understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

othership toronto
Othership in Toronto

Folks in the sauna are generally eager to hear and share their experiences at other spots, as well as compare notes on how they like to circuit. It’s satisfying to connect with strangers around habits that promote health and wellbeing in a format that’s inherently inclusive of each individual’s way of doing it. There’s no wrong way to sauna (except maybe setting it on fire) so really there is nothing to fear.

“Sauna culture, which can take place in homes or public places, involves much more than simply washing oneself. In a saua, people cleanse their bodies and minds and embrace a sense of inner peace. Traditionally, the sauna has been considered as a sacred space”– Unesco

Why Social Matters Now

This social aspect feels especially important as we come out of pandemic restrictions and seek real social experiences in contrast to digital dependence and the anxieties those bring. We are also learning more how loneliness and social isolation can be linked to serious health conditions.

solo or social? sauna house experience and etiquette

The psychosocial aspects of group activity from sauna are an important part of its health benefits:
“Social connection, sharing with friends and feeling a part of a community, as well as the personal nature of conversation that is fostered in the sauna, all play parts in the cultural validity of group sweating that has existed in so many cultures over time. In addition, for those cultures that promote nudity in the sauna, a sense of equality and openness exists that one does not normally experience in everyday life.” – The North American Sauna Society

This kind of relaxed connection happens organically at Ritual. Perhaps because the sauna offers a level playing field: you meet people from different backgrounds you wouldn’t otherwise necessarily encounter. But it isn’t limited just to this corner of the world. A recent article from The Guardian hints at these elements in the UK as well:

 “With its unquestionable benefits, this is a movement with a life force of its own…You come out feeling like you’ve been on holiday, with a sense of space in your mind. Sweating has its own release and calms the thoughts. It’s like sitting in a pub, it liberates you, and you end up having the loveliest chats.” – The Guardian June 2022

There have been studies about how spending social time in a sauna enables us to connect more deeply with people around us. In fact, one study claims that men who sweat together are more likely to co-operate together afterwards.

gathering and social sauna experience

“We call that ‘sauna head’. It makes you go into a slightly meditative state and you lose your edges, your ego dissolves. Time disappears.” – The Guardian

How to Be Social (When You’re Not Actually Social)

When you visit RITUAL Nordic Spa you may wonder what to expect. While spa time can often be associated with quiet, at RITUAL, we follow the Finnish tradition where conversation is allowed and encouraged. Everyone in the sauna is equal and social status is forgotten.

Are there any rules? Not really, but here are a few suggestions from a Finnish Travel blog: “A sauna visitor can initiate a discussion with anyone. You can have relaxed small talk with strangers or discuss even politics or religion if you know the others well. Avoid talking about your job. The most important rule is to respect others even though you may disagree with them. If you do not like talking with strangers, staying quiet is perfectly fine too. However, it’s always nice to greet people when entering a small sauna where there are only a few people inside.”

And if you’re still not sure how to start a conversation in the sauna without feeling weird, sometimes a smile, or asking if other guests want more water on the rocks (löyly) is enough to break the tension. Even just sitting there silently can deliver a social moment.

As a recent RITUAL guest put it:  
“You know I didn’t talk to anyone today in the sauna. I wasn’t feeling social, but I was glad other people were chatting. I felt like I was part of something nice.”

When you think about it, sauna is this kind of wonderful practice where, just by nature of being inside a sauna, you are ‘sauna-ing’. You’re already doing the thing. The rest of how you spend your time in there is up to you. Whether you’re catching up with friends, chatting with strangers, or taking some quiet time with some top-shelf löyly, you’re showing up to your sauna practice all the same. That is what makes sauna culture equalizing and accessible to everyone and why it generates a (literally) warm feeling of camaraderie.

And what if you do get chatting and the chatting gets too loud or the opinions get too heated? The best part is that it’s never considered rude to leave the sauna and come back later. Besides, it’s hot in there naturally. That’s the point. And the cold plunge pool is calling.

Infrared Sauna may be the cure for the cold, dark days of winter…

infrared sauna private suite downtown Victoria BC, RITUAL Nordic Spa

You may have heard about our “Birch Suite” private infrared sauna… Cozy and calming, with room for 1-2 people, the completely private suite has its own infrared heat sauna plus a shower for a relaxed rinse-off and an unhurried experience. Available for one hour sessions, it is perfect for stealing some me-time in a busy day, or adding on to a massage treatment or Nordic Circuit. Located in the massage wing, Birch Suite guests have access to the indoor lounge and patio relaxation areas as well.

But do you know about some of the benefits infrared sauna has to offer, that may be of particular interest to those of us who don’t love winter? If you don’t love the cold, or have lower moods during gloomy months, you will want to read on.

Difference between traditional sauna and infrared sauna? The key difference is traditional saunas heat the air which then heats the body, whereas infrared saunas use infrared light to penetrate and heat the body directly. An infrared sauna will also use less heat, which may make it more comfortable for some.

Infrared Multi Visit Pass Downtown VictoriaAt RITUAL we have a far-infrared saunas (FIR). Far-infrared rays are invisible waves that only penetrate up to 0.1 mm beneath the skin, and the light is absorbed through the water in your body. The infrared energy will improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and encourage the release of toxins in the body. Infrared saunas can also help with stress relief as it can promote relaxation and allow for a calming experience. The infrared light waves are beneficial for pain relief, as they help relax muscles, reduce inflammation and increase blood flow.

People coping with depression or stress, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) will want to try infrared sauna and chromotherapy. SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter when our exposure to sunlight is lower. Symptoms include reduced energy, difficulty concentrating, and feeling sad. Infrared sauna therapy, along with chromotherapy, can relax and boost mood, and improve sleep. Understanding the positive effects of infrared sessions, we created our “Get Me Through Winter” Combo and Winter Warmer Multivisit Pass.

Infrared saunas can also be very beneficial for high performance athletes, who are looking for ways to enhance their performance and reduce recovery time. Time spent in the infrared heat will help to reduce muscle soreness, improve circulation and reduce inflammation. Infrared therapy can also help to improve performance by increasing the body’s ability to use oxygen more efficiently. 

Massage therapy. If you are scheduling a massage treatment, consider adding on an infrared sauna session prior. Preheating your body and relaxing muscles with the Infrared Sauna can enhance and build on the beneficial effects of the massage.


infrared sauna will warm the body and enhance the beneficial effects of massage therapy. book as a package at Ritual Nordic Spa

Infrared Sauna Benefits

Some benefits of repeated infrared sauna therapy:
– Relaxation and reduced stress
– Improved circulation and detoxification
– Speeds up metabolism and may facilitate weight loss
– Relief from pain, fatigue and stiffness
– Reduced inflammation
– Improved immunity
– Improved sleep quality
– Improved tissue oxygenation and wound healing
– Improved skin function and tone
– Increased energy levels 
– Relief from arthritis and joint pain

The RITUAL Birch Suite infrared sauna also features Chromotherapy, also known as Colour Therapy. Colours are thought to have different effects on the mind and body, and can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Chromotherapy can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation. 

Benefits of Chromotherapy:
– Eases depression and anxiety (especially seasonal depression / SAD)
– Improves mood
– Improves sleep
– Boosts energy
– Improved circulation and blood flow 

Who May Benefit?

Those with the following conditions and concerns may find Infrared Sauna beneficial:
– Depression and stress
– Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
– Athletic recovery
– Fibromyalgia
– Chronic Pain
– Rheumatoid Arthritis
– Ankylosing Spondylitis

For more information about the RITUAL Birch Suite or to book a session, please call 778-440-9009. You can also book the “Get Me Through Winter” Combo or purchase the Winter Warmer Pass online.

Holiday Gift Ideas, Spa Gift Certificate, Ritual Nordic Spa Victoria BC

GIVING THAT FEELS GOOD! We’ve gotten to know you during our first year (thanks so much for making it a success!) and learned a lot about what makes people feel happy and healthy. Here is our RITUAL Gift Guide, created by our friendly Nordic Hosts. It’s easy to shop online, creating gift certificates or building your own custom experience (choose gift certificates/service.) Want some help? Give us a call, 778-440-9009, or drop by the Spa, we are always happy to see you!

Holiday High Fiver Ritual Nordic Spa Pass Special Price 225For the ATHLETE — If you are looking for an amazing gift for the fitness minded, they’ll  LOVE our Holiday High Fiver Pass! Good for five anytime visits to our Nordic Circuit. A 2-hour self-guided hot+cold+relax circuit with sauna, steam, cold plunge pool, Nordic bucket shower plus relaxing in the Himalayan salt lounge or the outdoor patio. On sale for $225 through December 31, shop online or in store.

For the ROMANTIC — This luxurious sauna experience includes 2 hours alone or couple-time in our private Cedar Suite Sauna Date night gift ideas at Ritual Nordic Spa Victoria BCwith cedar plunge tub. Move from hot to cold as often as you like, then relax on the nearby patio. Complete this blissful date night with 2 massages. Perfect gift for you and your special someone, or a lucky couple! A 3-hour package for 2 people is approximately $620 depending on services selected.

For the SAUNA-CURIOUS — Share your love of sauna with someone who might want to try it too! RITUAL Nordic Circuit single passes, now available in store and online (choose gift certificate service), make the best stocking stuffers for friends and family. Share the sauna – or cold plunge – love! $69 each

corporate gift pack, spa pass discount 10 packs Ritual Nordic Spa VictoriaFor your WORK MATES — Say thanks for a job well done with a gift of wellness. New this year, books of 10 RITUAL Nordic Circuit single passes (anytime use) are now available for only $500 ( a savings of $190!). Perfect for staff gifting and your favourite clients. Drop in to the Spa and we will get you set up! Available in spa only.

Gifts for Mom, massage at Ritual Nordic Spa Victoria BC online gift cardFor that BUSY MOM — One thing every mom wants but never seems to find is quiet time for themselves. Treat mom to this half day package that includes a COMBO one-hour Nordic Circuit  followed by one-hour Relaxation Massage. She can lounge with a book or tea afterwards. The day will warm away any worries and leave her relaxed, happy and energized! Package 2 hours, $175 BOOK NOW (choose COMBOS)

Or let them choose their experience with a RITUAL Gift Certificate. Totally stress free, gift certificates are fast and easy to purchase online, or visit us in the spa and we will prepare for you. Available in any amount, online and in store. They won’t be disappointed!


What is Hot Cold Therapy and why should you try it?

As simple as it sounds, contrast therapy is when you alternate between warm and cold temperatures. At RITUAL, our Nordic Circuit is centred around the age-old Finnish tradition of sauna. Guests move between areas spending time in hot and cold, and then resting while the body adjusts.

Hot Cold Therapy is popular among athletes, particularly following intense training or a race, to assist with muscle recovery. Many runners claim that the hot cold ritual helps to lessen muscle fatigue and decrease pain, swelling, and lactic acid buildup. Other reported benefits include boosted immunity, improved mood, and a jump-start for circulation.

heat therapy sauna for muscle recovery

THE HOT — Dry Sauna or Steam Bath

Warming your body in the hot sauna or steam room will increase blood flow and circulation which can aid the healing process, as well as relieve cramps and aching muscles. Go at your own speed but most people spend 10-15 minutes in the heat, 2-5 minutes in the cold, and 5-15 minutes resting.

THE COLD — Cold Plunge + Nordic Bucket

RITUAL keeps the Cold Plunge pool at a cool 9˚C (or 48˚F), very similar to the temperature of the ocean. You may find yourself bracing against the cold water as you enter the pool. Some people glide in slowly, taking deep breaths, while others quickly dip, with a head dunk too! Or opt for the Nordic Bucket Shower for a fast and fun cool down. Opposite to heat, the cold immersion reduces inflammation and swelling, and can help with pain management.

cold plunge for muscle healing

RELAX– Himalayan Salt Lounge + Patio

After spending time in the sauna and cold plunge, your body needs to adjust and allow your heart rate to settle. Kick back in the ultra chill salt lounge or on the patio with friends or a book. It’s nice to relax for 10-15 min before repeating the cycle.

“Beautiful space with lots of wood and natural light. Bright, clean and the staff are lovely. My aches and pains went away after a two-hour circuit. Highly recommend to athletes or anyone looking to completely relax.”
– Sarah C. on Google Reviews

The Benefits

Hot and cold each have their own benefits, but paired together in succession deliver a thrilling intensity and calming respite. Some benefits you may anticipate from your Nordic Circuit experience:

  • Improved Circulation
  • Reduced Swelling or Inflammation
  • Improvement in Muscle Strains
  • Increased Range of Motion
  • Reduced Muscle Soreness
  • Increased Energy & Alertness
  • Elevated Mood
  • Better Sleep

Ready to give it a try? It’s easy to Book online, or give us a call at 778-440-9009.
See you in the sauna!

PLUS Top Spots in Victoria BC to Rejuvenate

Here on Vancouver Island we’re lucky to enjoy some very temperate weather for most of the year. For athletes involved in outdoor sports, this makes Victoria a great city to live in and train in, all year round. Victoria is home to several national teams in Canada including Rugby Canada, Triathalon Canada and Rowing Canada. We’ve also got high level training centres like the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence and many members of the Canadian cycling (as well as the mountain bike team) call Victoria and Vancouver Island home.

And while we haven’t seen an official study, we bet you a glass of Gatorade—or perhaps Kombucha—that Victoria has the highest per capita ratio or number of carded or elite, internationally ranked athletes walking around, compared to other Canadian cities. This would be an interesting statistic to measure. (Let’s hope the sport management experts at University of Victoria are reading this.)

“We bet you a glass of Gatorade—or Kombucha—that Victoria has the highest per capita ratio of carded or elite, internationally ranked athletes.”

And let’s not forget that in addition to those who pursue athletic excellence or sport, and who compete on an international level, Victoria is also home to a huge number of everyday athletes. These are the people who make movement a part of their daily lives.

What do we mean by “recovery”?

The act of using rest and downtime, as a strategy to repair and prepare your body to be active again is considered one of the most important elements that athletes can use to reach their optimal performance state when it’s time for race day or to compete. Without spending adequate time and attention to the recovery phase after training, an athlete would burn out.

According to some in the sports medicine world, recovery is as important as training. (Johnathan Leary, DC, a doctor of chiropractic medicine who specializes in recovery, rest, and wellness, founded Remedy Place in Los Angeles, based on these principles.)

At a simple level recovery strategies can be active or passive and can include activities like rest, sleep, massage, hot + cold therapy, meditation, refuelling strategies, stretching, physio and other therapies, acupuncture and acupressure, movement work, etc. It can also be expanded to be any practice that helps to rebalance, refuel, reset and rejuvenate your mind and body.

yoga recovery stretching on beach


Fave Athletic Recovery Rituals in Victoria

Since opening RITUAL, one of the most rewarding things has been meeting and chatting with so many active people. We’ve also had a chance to welcome a wide range of athletes to RITUAL—from gold medal Olympians, World Champions and professional stars of the field, pool, track, velodrome, ski hills, rowing scull, hockey rink, rugby pitch, tennis court, and beach volleyball court.

In a city with so many athletes you won’t be surprised to hear that local residents (and visiting Olympians) know a thing or two about the importance of recovery as a critical aspect for peak performance. They also know some of the best spots in town.

We recently caught up with elite athlete and Canadian Olympian Melissa Humanas-Paredes, one of the world’s top beach volleyball competitors, while she was on a break at the World Championships. Melissa visits Victoria regularly and shared her “inside tips” on where and how to recover in Victoria.

“I travel the world for a living… My favorite place to come back to for a sense of calm and rejuvenation is Victoria BC.” – Melissa Humana-Paredes, Canadian Olympian, Beach Volleyball

Here are some of Melissa’s favourite places to rest and rejuvenate when visiting Victoria, BC:

~ Hot & Cold Cafe yellow curry for a warm hug and anti-inflammatory benefits
~ Crispy Chicken Burrito from Tacofino for a tasty protein crunch
~ A flavourful mixture from the Green Cuisine salad bar & smoothie
~ Any pizza from Agrius for great quality and unique ingredients
~ The ultimate carb replenish at Il Terrazo starting with the olive tapenade & focaccia
~ Cold Comfort ice cream sandwich in Fernwood for the soul

A dip at Gonzalez Beach & sharing a DIY charcuterie platter on the beach with CJ

“Being outdoors or in nature is the best way for me to come back to balance and myself. A hike to Mt. Fin or a walk along Dallas Road with a turmeric latte from Disco and a blueberry scone from Union or an Apple fritter from Yonni’s is my go-to…”

~ A facial at Studio Rococo
~ A visit to Lagree for a low impact full body workout
~ and of course a Nordic Spa at RITUAL for the ultimate rejuvenation!

FOLLOW @RitualNordicSpa for more MY RITUAL series where we feature people in our community.

The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) recently released its annual wellness trends report, looking at new directions in wellness that will have the most impact on the industry and people worldwide. The 110-page report goes in-depth to look at major shifts ahead in nutrition, wellness travel, wellness real estate, women’s health, men’s wellness, healthcare, technology, sustainability and spas.

Among the 10 wellness trends predicted for 2022 is one that caught our eye: Global Wellness TREND #7 – The Rise of Urban Bathhouses: Affordable wellness is coming to a city near you.

“If it’s always daunting to predict trends in the fast-moving wellness space, it’s especially so two years into a pandemic where the long-promised ‘post-pandemic world’ is becoming visible but is repeatedly delayed,” said Susie Ellis, GWS chair and CEO. “One thing that this forecast makes very clear is that the future of wellness will be anything but a ‘restart’ of 2019. What consumers need most, what they perceive as ‘true wellness,’ has profoundly changed.”

city dwelllers seek wellness

Several other themes emerge in the report. With new awareness of the fragility of life and the planet, a “survivalist wellness” is emerging: more people are seeking resilience and self-reliance and are aware that their own wellbeing is inextricable from the planet’s.

Another theme is tackling the gaps, missing links and underserved populations in both healthcare and wellness: from male body issues finally getting the attention that women’s have, to innovative technology closing the women’s health research gap to “senior living” getting a dramatic rethink, to the rise of professional wellness coaches helping people make behavior changes.

But let’s get back to the Bathhouse…
We were most curious about the urban bathhouse trend, so we dove into the report to find the elements behind it.  

Today, historic bathing culture is being celebrated — and updated — catering to locals and tourists alike, whether through renovating ancient bathhouses or creating new, modern, urban sauna and bathhouses. These new-styled social bathhouses have begun popping up in our urban landscapes, providing a new kind of “social wellness club” that not only brings urbanites together to relax, but also provides a gentle reboot of mind, body and soul through the discovery and sensory delight of traditional bathing rituals. 

Public Bathhouse Hungary

The need to congregate, gather and socialize around a communal pursuit can help combat isolation and loneliness. Urban bathhouses are part of the solution.

Though numerous projects were in development pre-COVID (and many spa openings were delayed due to the pandemic) it was partially the two years of restrictive, isolated city living that stoked the very real need for purpose-built, easy-to-access wellness sanctuaries, like a second location in Manhattan for Brooklyn’s popular Bathhouse. And indeed, the creation of BC’s first urban Nordic Spa — RITUAL — in downtown Victoria, BC.

At the same time, there has been a push of community support to save historical bathhouses. Sites like the UK’s Carlisle Turkish Baths are being saved from falling into disuse or disrepair and in San Francisco there is a group working to revitalize the old Sutra baths location.

“A revival and appreciation of historical communal bathing and swimming sites in locations around the world is taking place as people turn to authentic, traditional, and proven wellness practices,” said Don Genders, chair of the Global Wellness Institute’s Hydrothermal Initiative. 

Why the Sudden Wave of Interest?
Many factors are fueling the desire of city dwellers to hit the steambath or saunahouse:

  • Social feels good, coming out of COVID:  there is a pent-up demand to do things with other people in real life, rather than via screens. Putting on a bathing suit and doing a circuit with others is part of that.
  • Changing views for what is a “fun” night out: millennials are seeking lower cost, less-alcohol fueled social activities to do as a group. Hello to the Friday night sauna session.
  • Years of history! Bathing feels good and always has. Now, we are seeking this as a way to deal with stressful city lives.  Like the Romans did in their day.
  • Urban density in cities is going up, often without the services and public pools that used to go along with it. Bathhouses are being built in downtown locations to fill this gap.
  • Spas are nice, but communal sauna or bathhouses are affordable: this is an accessible wellness trend, compared to the luxury hotel spa market.

social sauna experiences

A Shift in Wellness
The report goes deep into related trends — like the rise of mobile saunas, event-sized saunas being built in Europe and the “aufguss” events happening — which we hope to cover soon here. It also covers the cool, new experiences rising in wellness: from pandemic-weary cities being reimagined as accessible “wellness playgrounds” to destinations answering the call of a new kind of purpose-seeking wellness traveler, with experiences that help them grow spiritually and creatively. And while the report is based on the insights of economists, doctors, investors, academics, global executives of wellness companies and technologists that gather each year at the GWS, we find it makes very good, elemental sense too.

See you in the sauna.

A Look at The Power of Ritual

The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices, Casper ter KuileLoneliness, anxiety, lack of connection — how does the average person deal with some of the unwanted side-effects of our technology-laden society? In his book The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices (HarperOne 2020), Casper ter Kuile, author and co-host of the popular podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, addresses what he believes is society’s crisis of social isolation. His book illuminates how seemingly mundane activities, such as reading or eating meals with others can, with the right intention, be transformed into soul-enriching rituals. 

Seemingly mundane activities can be transformed into soul-enriching rituals.

Ter Kuile uncovers research that shockingly reveals that social isolation may be worse for your health than being overweight or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. With these problems of modern society in mind, the author has discovered the many new and inventive ways that people are trying to combat loneliness and isolation.

cold water swim

Although there is a marked decline in those who consider themselves religious in the traditional sense, people are adapting ancient practices to suit our cultural landscape of mixed beliefs. Just because we’re not all flocking to traditional forms of religion, spirituality is, according to ter Kuile, still part of our lives. 

Instead of meeting in churches and synagogues, people are seeking out new and surprising venues to meet like-minded souls. People want to connect with people who share similar values, whether it’s a passion for cold plunge, a shared love of art, working out, a propensity for helping others, or making gourmet meals. 

There is a growing network of get-togethers such as dinner clubs and exercise groups like CrossFit and Soulcycle that feed our innate desire to gather. And like we’ve seen since opening the doors at RITUAL, friends setting up a recurring monthly sauna night booking with friends. (Recently overheard, a guest leaving the Nordic Circuit: “This TOTALLY beats bookclub.”) 

Like a monthly bookclub. But in your bathing suit.

Ter Kuile’s podcast series, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text delves into how words from this popular series are able to help uplift people, so it is no surprise that the Power of Ritual devotes a whole chapter devoted to the power of reading. “Stories can be a mirror in which we reflect on our lives,” says ter Kuile. Reading can become sacred because humans are able to glean or get personal meaning from a fictional character’s actions. (The author explains how the art of sacred reading doesn’t need to involve the Bible or the Quran: even re-reading one sentence from a favorite text, albeit repetitively, can help soothe the soul.)

Ter Kuile expertly uses examples from his own experience. He suggests carving out tech-free days to reset and reconnect to self. The author has been practicing tech-free Fridays since 2014 and looks forward to his own personal rituals, although he stresses that “a practice isn’t a practice without commitment.” Working on your spiritual practice is likened to a workout rather than a day at the beach. It’s important to set aside time every day for that hour of meditation or fill in the blank and don’t sway from it.

The Power of Ritual touches on many ways to find connection with not only others but with ourselves, such as immersing in nature. ‘When was the last time you felt deeply connected to something bigger than yourself?’ the author asks us. Connecting to the transcendent can be a powerful practice. Anyone can take the time with the right intention to adapt activities into something deeper, through ritual. A morning dip in the ocean. Five minutes in the cold plunge. Even walking the dog every night and peering into the star-filled sky can become a meaningful ritual.

Amen to that.