Kelly Martin is an assistant editor at goop. She’s the most skeptical yet most open-minded person on our team, and that’s why we love her.
There’s something so satisfying about leaving a hot yoga class drenched in sweat. The asanas themselves are one catharsis, the meditative aspect is another, but what I think allows me to really find release is the heat. For me, heat loosens everything up so that the rest is possible: Tight muscles can find length, stiff joints can find movement, and mental chatter can break down and smooth out. These are all things I could use a little more of. But I don’t have unlimited access to a hot yoga studio, and sometimes I wonder about the potential benefits of heat, isolated.
It’s no secret that goop HQ is into saunas, especially infrared ones. I’m always hearing about everyone’s new favorite sauna studio. So when we launched something called a “sauna blanket” in our holiday gift guides this past winter, I toyed with the thought of buying it myself—it sounded like a cool way to explore how good heat makes me feel in the privacy of my own home. I hesitated too long: In its first two runs on goop, the sauna blanket sold out fast. But now it’s back, and I’ve been lucky enough to take one home.
The first thing to know about the Infrared Sauna Blanket V3 from HigherDOSE is that it’s an at-home sauna, but instead of being a hot little room, it looks like a giant heating pad that folds around your body. The second is that it’s probably the easiest and most accessible way to experience infrared. You just set it up on your bed or couch, preheat the blanket, wrap yourself up like a burrito, and let the power of infrared—plus internal layers of tourmaline, amethyst, and charcoal—do its magic.
After that, all you need to figure out is what feels best. When I finally got my hands on a sauna blanket, here’s what worked for me: I laid out the sauna blanket on my bed, with pillows set up to bolster my head and rest under my knees.
Then, heat preferences: I’m a novice sauna-taker, so I’ve been most comfortable when I preheat the blanket to a level five or six and increase the temperature incrementally once I’m inside it. I usually start to feel the benefits around level seven. That’s when I start to sweat, and my heart rate quickens a bit, and my tension melts away. If I’m feeling up for something more challenging, I pump things up to level eight, which is hot but not too hot. At that point, it’s slightly uncomfortable in a pleasant way, where I know that I’m pushing my body to do something good. If I start to get overwhelmed, it’s easy to dial the heat back down, and I always keep a bottle of water by my side for cooling sips. I’m mindful of my limits: I braved level nine once, for a minute—too toasty for me. For safety, HigherDOSE does not recommend sessions longer than forty-five minutes.
A sauna blanket experience also means going in fully clothed. Having to wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks wasn’t what I expected, but covering up serves two purposes here: First, the clothes will soak up a good amount of sweat so that it doesn’t start to puddle around you. (Bless.) That also makes cleanup easier. Second, it’ll protect you when things heat up. While the HigherDOSE sauna blanket does use infrared, which heats your body up from the inside, the interior of the blanket, which lies against your body, does get hot to the touch, especially around the lower legs and feet. The most comfortable approach is to wear long, loose, breathable pants—think sweatpants rather than leggings—and thicker socks that cover the ankles so that no skin is exposed on your lower half. On top, any long-sleeve T-shirt works, and I found I never had to worry about covering up my hands.
In addition to figuring out what felt good, I also found what didn’t work for me: I did try, for a while, to use my sauna-blanket time for some light multitasking. My first go, I tried to prop myself up and watch a show on my laptop. It was hard to get the angles right, and I kept wanting to adjust myself. (Hard, when you’re Velcroed into a giant Hot Pocket.) Another time, I tried to read a book. That meant trying to maneuver my hands out from under the blanket every time I wanted to turn a page. Neither of these things was remotely relaxing. Ultimately, I landed on ears-only activities: A playlist that chills you out is the way to go.
Now that I’ve settled into a once-a-week sauna routine, I’m loving it. When I’m done, I emerge drenched in that post-hot-yoga way I love—feeling glowy, loosened up, and satisfied. And I’m thinking of stocking up on sweatpants and thick socks so that I can get my sauna on more than once a laundry cycle.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.