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Have you ever wanted to immerse yourself in a unique cultural experience? When visiting Turkey, especially Istanbul, a visit to a traditional hammam should be at the top of your list. This ultimate Turkish bath experience guide will provide you with everything you need to know.

To have a traditional hammam experience in Istanbul, let’s start with the first question!

What is a hammam experience like?

A Turkish hammam experience involves several steps, which include an overall cleanse, exfoliation, steam, foam, and oil massages

Hammams are communal bathhouses steeped in rich Ottoman tradition. The experience is similar to a spa visit but with a much deeper cultural significance. Hammams also encourage deep exfoliation with the help of hot steam. It’s a traditional experience that should not be missed when visiting Istanbul.

You may ask, “What is the Çatma Mescit Hammam experience like?”. Çatma Mescit Hammam has been a tradition since 1533. At our Turkish bath, experiencing a historical surrounding offers a totally different experience compared to a typical day spa.

What happens during a traditional hammam?

During a hammam session, you’ll choose from a range of services. The session typically includes:

  1. Starting with sweating in the steamy warm room.
  2. Participating in the bath ritual led by a professional attendant.
  3. Full-body exfoliation to cleanse and invigorate your skin.
  4. Soap massage with foam covering your entire body.
  5. Refreshments such as traditional snacks, fruits, and beverages may be served between treatments, depending on the hammam you visit.
  6. Massage treatments like oil or hot stone massages usually conclude the ritual.


Each hammam has its unique structure and services, but this list typically forms the backbone of a standard hammam ritual.

What does a Turkish hammam involve?

A traditional Turkish hammam has three hammam rooms, each with varying temperatures:

If you are wondering about what is a hammam room, let us explain one by one:

When you first enter a hammam, you’ll be directed to a designated dressing room. Inside, you’ll find a locker for storing all your personal and valuable items.

The ritual begins with undressing in the dressing room and then relaxing in the warm room to start the sweating process.

Next, you’ll move to the hot room for a scrub (kese), followed by a soothing soap cover, foam massage, and a thorough rinse. 

The experience concludes with a relaxation period in the cool room to bring your body temperature down, often accompanied by snacks and drinks to enhance your experience.

Last but not least, there is “Külhan” (furnace room), a unique feature of the Çatma Mescit Hammam, where the furnace generates the heat and steam for the hammam. It’s the operational part of the bath, usually located beneath or adjacent to the hammam.

Is a Turkish bath good for you?

Yes, according to many people, a Turkish hammam offers a thoroughly relaxing experience. 

Turkish hammams are well worth the visit with a serene ambiance, providing a meditative and calming atmosphere. At Çatma Mescit Hammam, you’ll be welcomed by the soothing sounds of a fountain and soft background music, which adds to the atmosphere.

Hammam is excellent for the skin. The scrubbing removes dead skin cells, and the steam opens pores, allowing for deep cleansing. The soap used in Turkish hammams is typically natural olive oil soap, renowned for its excellent moisturizing properties. Sometimes, other scents like lavender and eucalyptus are also used, offering the same nourishing and hydrating qualities.

Are hammams safe?

Yes, hammams are hygienic and safe places. However, if you have any skin conditions or are pregnant, we recommend checking with your doctor first. If you are generally comfortable with saunas and steam rooms, you should be fine in a hammam as well.

What is so special about a Turkish Hammam?

Turkish baths, or hammams, are a continuation of a rich culture that dates back to the early Ottoman Empire. Loved by people of all ages and backgrounds, hammams remain a cherished tradition.

The architecture of these buildings is also one of the special things about them. The Çatma Mescit Hammam was built in 1533 by the famous architect of the Ottoman Empire called Mimar Sinan. Today, we are proud to share this timeless experience with those intrigued by its history and benefits.

In addition to these cultural and traditional aspects, Çatma Mescit Hammam is also the best hammam in Istanbul for couples.

To learn more about couple hammam sessions, you can take a look at our hammam packages!

What to expect from a Turkish bath?

When stepping into a Turkish bath, expect to feel an instant relaxation because the whole place is designed for it. The different aspect of a Turkish bath compared to a spa is the hammam ritual you experience. For people who are not familiar with it, here are some of the hammam terms you can get more information about:

Çatma Mescit Hammam has preserved these traditional aspects since the 16th century. At our hammam in Istanbul, near Taksim Square, you can experience everything mentioned above!

Are Turkish hamams mixed?

Most of the communal Turkish hammams have separate sections for women and men. Some of the hammams have sessions for couples, families, and friends. These sessions are completely exclusive to your group.

A 500-year-old Turkish bath, Çatma Mescit hammam offers this private session in their services. You can make your hammam experience exclusive by opting for an elevated session.

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What do I need to bring to a Turkish bath?

Turkish baths usually provide you with the essentials such as:

  • Towels (peştamal)
  • Slippers
  • Soaps 
  • Washing glove (kese)

Before your visit, it’s a good idea to check with the hammam about what’s included in their package. For hygiene reasons, bringing your items is perfectly acceptable. Hammam towels and washing gloves are readily available throughout the shops in Istanbul, especially Eminonu, and can also make wonderful cultural souvenirs.

As for the dress code, it varies depending on the hammam’s rules. If you’re not comfortable with just a towel wrapped around your chest, you can bring along your own bathing suit

🫧Çatma Mescit Hammam provides all the essentials for your visit.🫧
While you don't need to bring anything, the hammam policy encourages visitors to bring their personal items if it makes them more comfortable.

What to do before going to a hammam?

Before heading to a hammam you might want to prepare yourself with these useful tips for your visit:

  1. Make an appointment: It’s advisable to schedule your visit in advance.
  2. Bring your essentials: Consider bringing your own towel, scrubbing mitt, and toiletries for hygiene reasons.
  3. Stay hydrated: Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  4. Avoid overeating: Try not to eat a heavy meal before your hammam session.
  5. Don’t forget to tip: Bring some cash to show appreciation to your massage therapist.
  6. Remove makeup and jewelry: It is recommended to clean your makeup and put your jewelry in the safe locker.


And most of all, remember to relax and enjoy this wonderful hammam Istanbul experience to the fullest!

Should I shave before a hammam?

Shaving before a hammam is a personal preference. Some choose to shave beforehand as it can enhance the exfoliation process. However, it’s important that newly shaved skin may be sensitive, and the scrubbing during the hammam session could cause irritation. Consider shaving a day before your visit for a more comfortable experience.

Can I go to a hammam on my period?

Yes, you can go to a hammam on your period. It is recommended to use a tampon or menstrual cup for comfort and hygiene. If you feel uncomfortable, you can always reschedule your visit.

What is the etiquette for a hammam bath?

There are several rules for maintaining peace in a hammam:

  • Respect the traditions and other visitors
  • You should speak softly and not raise your voice.
  • If you’re in a communal session, be mindful of other people’s personal space.
  • Follow the instructions given by the attendants.


This attitude is important to pursue in a hammam environment.

What are the rules of the hammam?

These are some easy and common rules to follow in a Turkish hammam:

  • Showering before entering the steam rooms.
  • Wearing appropriate attire (towel or swimsuit).
  • Using your phone and especially your phone’s camera is not allowed.
  • Tipping the attendants is customary.

     

If you are interested in an experience like this, our Catma Mescit Hammam team is here to help you! Contact us for more information.

Thai massage is an ancient healing practice originating in India, with a history dating back around 7,000 years. This relaxation ritual not only serves the body, muscles, and joints but also brings spiritual rejuvenation. Thai people learn these traditional methods from an early age. This is why Thailand offers some of the best SPA treatments. Luckily, you can enjoy its amazing benefits in many different countries all around the world!

How does a Thai massage differ from other types of treatments and what makes it so unique? Check with us if this extraordinary type of relaxing ritual is a kind of experience you would love to try!

What Is A Thai Massage?

So, what is a Thai massage like? Thai ancient ritual is an energizing therapy based on acupressure and reflexology techniques. During the session, your muscles and joints are stretched and relaxed by the therapist. In 2019 traditional Nuad Thai massage was listed as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Traditional Thai ritual is a healing art. Although it’s sometimes called “yoga for the lazy”, it belongs to a deep type of ritual. The treatment uses various techniques. They include deep muscle compression, joint mobilization, and acupressure. The therapist during the session uses hands, knees, legs, and feet and engages your whole body to work. The treatment also consists of several yoga postures.

thai massage

What Makes Thai Massage So Unique?

The deep pressure on points located along the energy lines of the body is what makes the Thai ritual special. Thai treatment is also distinguished by its intensive movements compared to other treatments. You don’t lie passively on the table but actively take part in the therapeutic session.

It’s also characteristic that professional massage therapists will use their hands, fingers, elbows, thumbs, ankles, and feet for different pressure levels. They sometimes include special steaming herbal stamps in the shape of a ball, which are rolled and gently pressed into selected places on the body. They contain a lot of medicinal herbs such as ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass.

Thai ritual is also considered a spiritual practice because it is based on some Buddhist teachings and principles. One of them is a mindful breathing mindset that helps you change positions during the session.

What Are the Benefits of Thai Massage?

What does Thai massage help with? Stretching during a Thai treatment can bring relief from muscle and joint pain. Just a few days after the procedure, you will notice how the before tense and stiff muscles and joints are relaxed. This treatment also has a slimming effect and contributes to the reduction of cellulite. It may also be helpful if you have a problem with chronic headaches by pressing on selected energy channels.

Thai ritual assumes the connection between the body and the mind, thanks to which the therapist stimulates both these zones. As a result, you get immediate relief from chronic pain, while feeling a large flow of positive energy. This allows you to regain your inner peace. Combining the session with yoga exercises helps maintain proper flexibility and range of motion.

For many people, Thai treatment can also reduce psychological stress. Several studies have shown that it reduces anxiety and tension that builds up in your body.

Thai rituals can also be suitable for circulatory problems. The treatment stimulates blood circulation and lymph flow through gentle stretching. Then, there is also better oxygenation of tissues and cell growth. After the unique Thai massage experience, you will feel incredibly calm and relaxed.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Thai Massage Session

The treatment takes place on a large, comfortable mat or a thin, firm mattress placed on the floor. Traditional Thai treatment is performed not only with the hands but also with the elbows, forearms, and feet. You will be lying on your back, belly, and on your sides, with a pillow placed between your legs. The session consists of sequences of various compression and stretching techniques.

4 Relaxing Types of Thai Massages

Among the most popular is a classic form, performed on the area of the whole body.

The ritual starts from the navel area, then therapists direct their movements toward the head. This order is dictated by the distribution of energy channels. According to this philosophy, they have their largest concentration on the belly.

The second type of Thai massage is the use of devices in the form of so-called herbal stamps.

These are special, cotton pouches filled with a mixture of herbs, which are heated before use. Depending on which herbs or their mixtures were used, different effects on the body should be expected. For example, lavender has a relaxing and anti-inflammatory effect. Eucalyptus has similar properties, and turmeric has antibacterial and antidepressant effects.

Another type of Thai ritual is a compilation of Indian Ayurvedic massage.

It’s done with compressions and the simultaneous use of aromatic oils during the treatment. The main purpose of such treatment is to remove water accumulated in the body and to improve the functioning of immune mechanisms.

The last variety of Thai rituals is reflexology – Thai foot massage.

This type of treatment consists of pressing points on the foot. According to philosophy, they correspond to individual internal organs of the human body.

NOTE: Keep in mind that a Thai massage doesn’t have a rigid framework and is individually tailored to you, your needs, and the tension accumulated in your muscles!

What to Wear in Thai Massage?

No oils or liquids are used during the classical treatment, so you can wear your comfortable clothes during the session. You should know that no specific outfit is required for a Thai massage. You may put on any loose, comfortable clothing that stretches easily and doesn’t restrict your movements. First and foremost, your comfort comes first!

How Long Does the Session Last?

Thai ritual session generally lasts from 1 to 2 hours. According to the ancient tradition though, authentic Thai massage should last no less than 120 minutes. It is believed that this is the optimal time to restore the proper flow of energy in the body. A hot compress treatment usually takes 20-30 minutes more than the basic session itself.

How Much Does a Thai Massage Cost?

The price of a Thai massage in professional parlors, SPA centers, or quality hotels ranges from $50 to $90 per hour. The cost also depends on what parts of your body will be treated. We recommend a full-body traditional massage treatment that lasts 2 hours. This way can take full advantage of the amazing Thai massage health benefits!

Of course, the base price in Thailand will be cheaper compared to many other countries around the world. But if you’re not planning your holidays on a beautiful exotic Thai island any time soon, be prepared for slightly higher expenses.

References:

Nuad Thai, traditional Thai massage. UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Damapong P, Kanchanakhan N, Eungpinichpong W, Putthapitak P, Damapong P. A Randomized Controlled Trial on the Effectiveness of Court-Type Traditional Thai Massage versus Amitriptyline in Patients with Chronic Tension-Type Headache. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:930175. doi: 10.1155/2015/930175. Epub 2015 Sep 15. PMID: 26472986; PMCID: PMC4587431.

Sripongngam T, Eungpinichpong W, Sirivongs D, Kanpittaya J, Tangvoraphonkchai K, Chanaboon S. Immediate Effects of Traditional Thai Massage on Psychological Stress as Indicated by Salivary Alpha-Amylase Levels in Healthy Persons. Med Sci Monit Basic Res. 2015 Oct 5;21:216-21. doi: 10.12659/MSMBR.894343. PMID: 26436433; PMCID: PMC4599180.

Chatchawan U, Eungpinichpong W, Plandee P, Yamauchi J. Effects of Thai foot massage on balance performance in diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy: a randomized parallel-controlled trial. Med Sci Monit Basic Res. 2015 Apr 20;21:68-75. doi: 10.12659/MSMBR.894163. PMID: 25892354; PMCID: PMC4416467.

There is nothing more relaxing and enjoyable than a traditional, soothing ritual in a Turkish bath. You should try this extraordinary experience at least once in a lifetime. Treat yourself to a bit of luxury! Yet, you should know there are a number of myths that have little to do with hammam’s reality. If you are a newcomer and want to get some useful info, read this insider’s guide and find out how to separate hammam truths from all the gossip. Some of them may really surprise you! Don’t wait any longer and check our hammam myths vs facts list!

Unveiling the Myths and Facts about Hammam

These are many examples of questions and myths you may have in mind when thinking about Turkish baths. So, let’s have a closer look at the most common misbeliefs and misconceptions regarding hammams. What about other hammam myths vs facts?

Myth #1 Hammam Is Only for Women

Fact: Some hammams may have separate sections for men and women. Yet, many modern Turkish baths offer mixed-gender, men-only sessions, or women-only rooms. Until some time ago, in traditional hammams, women could meet in a safe circle of close relatives, friends, and neighbors. Turkish baths were one of the few spaces where they could feel at ease outside of their homes and family circles.

It’s true that most of the traditional public baths still consist of representational spaces for men and women. However, times changed and more and more hammams offer mixed-gender couples experience these days. You can enjoy a relaxing massage or an aromatherapy treatment together with your loved one, all in a beautiful interior and unique atmosphere!

Myth #2 Hammams Are Unsanitary

Fact: Just the opposite! Turkish baths are required to adhere to strict hygiene and cleanliness standards. They include regular disinfection of surfaces and equipment. Besides, the hammam is a marble palace. This noble material is easy to clean and is also water resistant. For these reasons, you don’t have to worry about germs in a Turkish bath.

Also, remember that you don’t get a long soak in the hot water. According to Muslim customs, people always preferred flowing water rather than immersive baths. As you can see, you don’t have to bother yourself with thinking about the lack of hygiene rules in hammams!

Myth #3 Hammams Are Only Hot Baths

Fact: While hammams are certainly relaxing, they also have numerous health benefits. Some of them include improved circulation, detoxification, and skin rejuvenation. Hammam massage is great for stiff muscles and tension in your body. Stress relief and deep relaxation will improve not only your body but also your soul, bringing you the calmness and peace of mind that you need.

Turkish bath doesn’t only provide a deep cleansing ritual but also a unique cultural experience. Turkish hammams became a social element of city life and gathering points of local communities ages ago. To some extent, they still fulfill these functions.

Myth #4 Hammams Are Only Found in the Middle East

Fact: This myth is the most blazing reveal of the hammam myths vs facts discovery. While hammams are most commonly associated with the Middle East, they can be found in many countries all around the world. These include Morocco, Spain, and Russia, only to name a few.

Budapest has many spectacular Turkish baths built by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century, including the oldest – Kiraly and Rudas Bath. Some of the best hammams can be also found in modern luxurious SPA centers and hotels in the United Arab Emirates.

Myth #5 Hammams Are Only for Special Occasions

Fact: While hammams are often used for special occasions, such as weddings or holidays, they can also be enjoyed on a regular basis. Keep in mind they have numerous health benefits! Many people enjoy the complete ritual even once a week, making it a relaxing routine after a stressful work week.

If you don’t have any contraindications for health reasons, visiting a Turkish bath isn’t limited. Only a professional peeling isn’t advised more than once a week. Other than that – bathe and enjoy all the massages, aromatherapy, and other services as much as you want!

Myth #6 Hammam Massages Are Painful

Fact: No, they are not! Hammam massages can be tailored to your comfort level and are designed to be relaxing, not painful at all.

The tension that causes you pain and discomfort can be eased immensely after a Turkish bath experience! The heat and massage itself will soothe your sore muscles and headache tension if you suffer from any.

Don’t worry about heat stress either. The temperature in hammams is lower than in a sauna, and you may move to a cooler room anytime you want. It’s even better if you make it your regular health and beauty ritual at the end of a stressful week!

As you can see, many of the myths about Turkish baths have little to do with reality. Like oriental paintings of exoticized women in hammams in the past – a romanticized version of the East seen through the eyes of a Western tourist. So, maybe it’s about time to treat yourself to a Turkish bath!

Myth #7 Hammams Help with Weight Loss

Fact: Actually no! People are asking “Are you really losing weight in a hammam?” the answer is, not because you’re sweating, you are losing weight. We wish, though! There’s this minimal weight loss, which is only temporary because you’re sweating off water weight. High temperatures increase your heart rate in a way similar to a workout. Yet, it only causes a slightly higher calorie burn than while you are resting.

Traditional body scrub and foam massage improve circulation and work against cellulite. They have, however, nothing to do with losing any weight. All in all, a Turkish bath isn’t an effective tool for real weight loss!

Myth #8 Hammam Will Make Me Stop Smoking

Fact: There are many health benefits of a Turkish bath that can make it slightly easier for you to quit smoking naturally. They include decreased stress, improved blood circulation, and an immune system. However, does a hammam help to quit smoking?

They aren’t a solution to the smoking addiction and hammam may only be slightly helpful. You should know that the process of quitting smoking is much more complicated and a lovely hammam experience won’t be enough to achieve it!

Myth #9 Hammam May Damage My Tattoos

Fact: Many people are avoiding hammams because of their tattoos’ safety and ascan I go to a hammam with tattoos?” Of course, you can! Yet, you need to keep your fresh tattoos away from moisture. It means you should stay away from Turkish baths when your tattoo is brand new. Your body needs time to heal before you can expose the skin to excessive sweat and the wet environment of a hammam.

References:

Go Türkiye. Traditional Turkish Hammams 2020.

World SPA Awards. World’s Best Hammam Spa 2023.

The history of the hammam goes centuries back, and you can feel like you are traveling through time when you first step into a historic hammam. Traditional bathhouses have played a significant role in Turkish culture for centuries, serving as a place for socialization, cleansing, and relaxation. But do you know where did this practice originate from, and how these bathing traditions were kept alive for centuries? We are here to talk about the history of hammam, with facts you may not even know!

While traditional hammams can be found in a vast region from Morocco, to Greece and Iran, we will mostly talk about the history of Hammams in the Ottoman Empire and modern-day Turkey. So without further ado, let’s dive into the history of hammams!

It All Started with the Greeks and Romans

The origin of the hammam starts with the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Greeks and Romans had a long tradition of public bathing until the practice became unpopular.  The decline of the public bath coincided with the expansion of Muslim and Arabic states in the Middle East. In short, the Muslims adopted the public bath practices but changed some aspects to be in harmony with Islam. If you would like to learn more about the difference between Roman baths and Turkish baths, we have an article where we compare them!

Hammams in the Islamic Context

Hammams are extremely popular in some parts of the Middle East and North Africa, and in some parts, it has lost its popularity. However, for many centuries, hammams served as a place where Muslims can practice spiritual and physical cleanliness, which are very important in Islamic tradition.

For starters, most hammams were part of a large mosque complex or were closely located near a mosque. Almost all mosques have a special fountain area where the congregation can perform wudu, and spiritually & physically cleanse their bodies before a prayer.

Another type of spiritual cleansing is called ghusl, and it’s usually performed after the menstrual bleeding has stopped, or after sexual activity to cleanse the body. It involves submerging the entire body or standing under running water. However, there was one caveat. The Roman bathhouses included a cold water pool for plunging. The Islamic scholars found the “pool” to be unhygienic (as opposed to natural water sources). So the pool was removed from the hammam design in Islamic hammams in the Ottoman Empire, and the use of water from the hammam faucets was sufficient.

How Does It Compare to a Jewish Mikvah?

Since both Mikvahs and Hammams have religious affiliations, if you are not part of a Muslim or Jewish community, you might think they are similar. The main difference between these two is their purpose: the Mikvah’s purpose is to spiritually cleanse oneself, or one’s items through a ritual bath. While the Hammam’s main purpose is physical cleanliness. Though in a Hammam, you can still practice spiritual cleanliness rituals called “wudu” and “ghusl” (abdest in Turkish), which can be performed in many places or environments, with or without water being present, before a prayer.

The Ottomans Loved Hammams

The Ottomans loved the hammam so much that we can say they’re responsible for introducing it to many geographies! Today, you can find baths built by the Ottomans from Hungary, to remote parts of Anatolia; some in great shape, and some abandoned. In Istanbul especially, some of these historic hammams still stand, and accept patrons to this very day.

Even when the construction of new hammams was halted to limit the use of water and firewood, the Ottomans loved the hammam so much that many wealthy families resorted to building private hammams incorporated into their residences.

How the Ottomans Named Hammams

Hammams could be named after various things. Usually, hammams were named after the neighborhood they were in, the palace or mosque they were a part of, or the patron who funded the construction of the hammam. Aside from these, hammams could be named based on what kind of patrons it was frequented by; women’s, Roman, and Armenian hammams were frequented by their respective groups, while Paşa (Pasha) hammams were frequented by high dignitaries.

Women’s Hammams in the Ottoman Empire

Women’s hammams were one of the few places where women could gather without men being present. In the hammam environment, women were able to listen to music, dance, eat, and enjoy drinking tea and coffee and socializing. Women would have their intricately designed hammam accessories such as soap boxes, hair combs, and bath clogs with them which displayed their wealth and status.

Did You Know There Was A Hammam on the Titanic?

In the 19th century, there was a boom of Victorian Turkish Baths in the UK, inspired by the Ottoman and Moroccan bathhouses, although they aren’t that similar to a traditional Turkish bath. According to Malcolm Shifrin, the Victorian Turkish bath had very dry air compared to the extremely humid environment of a traditional Turkish bath (90-100% humidity). The first Victorian Turkish bath was constructed in Ireland in 1856. Soon, the UK had hundreds of public baths available. And of course, the passengers of the Titanic weren’t exempt from enjoying this luxury during their voyage.

Among the many luxury amenities presented to the first-class passengers on the Titanic, there was also a Turkish bath. But even the first-class ticket wasn’t enough to get access to the bath, you needed a special pass for entrance that would cost around 30$ today! The Turkish bath featured a hot room, a steam room, a temperate room, and a cooling room. The hammam was available to female guests between 09:00 AM and 12:00 PM, and to male guests between 02:00 and 06:00 in the afternoon.

An artistic reproduction of the Victorian Turkish bath in Titanic
Cool Room of the Turkish Baths in RMS Titanic. This image is in public domain.

Lady Mary Montagu’s Accounts

Lady Mary Montagu has a collection of letters she wrote during her stay in Turkey, as her husband served at the embassy called “Turkish Embassy Letters”. Lady Montagu’s accounts are exceptional because as a woman, she could visit women-only spaces in a time when most of the stories about the hammams or the harem were grossly fictionalized by male writers who did not have access to these spaces.

In her 27th letter, Lady Montagu accounts for her visit to a Turkish hammam in Sofia (today Bulgaria) in positive terms. She starts by describing the various chambers of the hammam, and their purpose. And even though she wasn’t dressed for the occasion, she talks about how she wasn’t criticized in any way and was received civilly. This stood out in stark contrast to her experiences in Europe, where ladies would make a great deal of gossip if one wasn’t dressed for the occasion.

During her visit, the hammam had about 200 women guests, and all in a state of nature, with no distinction between the noble women or the servants, and with no immodest gestures between them. The women patrons of the hammam would pay a visit at least once a week, and spend at least 4 to 5 hours in the bath.

This 18th-century account is surely one of the most accurate depictions of a hammam in Western literature

Hammams in Modern Turkey

Countless modern and historical hammams are still in operation in Turkey and are welcoming both local patrons and tourists. For the locals, the main purpose of the hammam today is a hub for keeping traditions and bathing rituals alive, such as a bridal hammam and having a relaxing spa experience with friends or family. For tourists, hammams are a unique chance to experience a traditional ritual kept alive for hundreds of centuries.

Today, you can get various services in a hammam from a traditional bath to different kinds of massages, skin care treatments, hair removal,  and various service options like a bridal hammam bachelorette party. Besides the historical hammams, many hotels in Turkey have modern hammams & spa complexes where you can enjoy a variety of services.

We recommend you try this unique experience at least once in your lifetime if you can. If you are planning on visiting Turkey, especially Istanbul, you can book a session with us for an authentic Turkish bath experience in the city, and many other massage & spa services.

References

  • http://repository.bilkent.edu.tr/bitstream/handle/11693/48549/The%20Turkish%20Embassy%20Letters.pdf
  • https://titanic.fandom.com/wiki/Turkish_Bath
  • https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/11742687.pdf
  • http://www.victorianturkishbath.org/
  • https://open.metu.edu.tr/bitstream/handle/11511/51072/81-110.pdf
  • http://www.medicaljournalshouse.com/index.php/ADR-CommunityHealth/article/view/324/264

Foot massage for indigestion? Or maybe massaging your wrists when you’re facing problems with getting pregnant? Sounds at least intriguing, if not slightly insane?

Opinions on the effectiveness of reflexology are divided, but one thing is certain – zonal therapy has a loyal group of supporters. For some, it helped as an additional massage therapy during conventional medical treatment. Others use it prophylactically, as a way to calm down the body and improve general health and well-being. What is reflexology and where does this centuries-old method of alternative healing come from? What are different the types of this intriguing treatment and how does it actually work? Let’s read on! 

What's reflexology?

What is a reflexology massage? Reflexology, otherwise known as zonal therapy, or reflexotherapy, is a popular method of holistic medicine. Some consider it to be pseudoscience, based on the placebo effect. Others emphasize its centuries-old traditions and find it very effective.

The aim of zonal therapy techniques is to press the reflexes, which are points located all over the body. According to reflexologists, each of these points corresponds to different internal organs. It is believed that every person consists of energy zones, arranged from the feet to the top of the head.

Exploring 3 types of reflexology

The most important reflexes are believed to be placed on the face, feet, and hands. So, what are the 3 types of reflexology and how do they work in detail? Let’s find out!

Type 1: feet

Foot reflexology is considered to be an effective and safe method of therapy. It causes physiological responses that increase your body’s self-healing potential. Through the work on foot receptors, the therapist supports your body to cleanse itself of toxins, and unlock energy channels, as well as relaxes the body and mind. 

The reflexologist stimulates the reflex points on the feet. The toes represent the head, and going down towards the heel we go down the body, one by one through all the organs. Then the search for painful places begins. Sensitivity may indicate a problem in a region of the body that is a kind of reflex zone and is connected to a specific point in the foot. The map of reflex points on the feet is very complex, therefore foot reflexology should only be performed by a qualified person. For example, it is believed that tenderness on the side of the heel can indicate dysfunction in the pelvic area.

foot reflexology chart

Type 2: hands

hand reflexology chart

When your head or spine hurts, zonal therapy would suggest… a hand massage! Surprising, right? According to hand reflexology, during this kind of treatment energy is released and it stimulates the work of your organs. Your hands contain a precise reflexology map of the whole body, and the individual points on it are a reflection of a given organ.

Generally speaking, the thumb represents your arms and stomach. When we suffer from pain in these parts of the body, depression, and anxiety appear. Symptoms that help identify a problem include irritability, abdominal pain, or headaches. The index finger, in turn, is associated with the kidneys and bladder, and possible symptoms include digestive ailments, backaches, and toothaches. The middle finger is associated with the liver and is related to migraines, vision problems, and nausea. The ring finger is primarily the large intestine and lungs, and the most common symptoms are indigestion, asthma, and lung failure. The little finger symbolizes the small intestine. Hand reflexology map is of course much more complicated and these are only general information.

Type 3: face

Face and head zonal therapy will put you in a state of pleasant tranquility, but it isn’t only a healing and relaxing treatment. A gentle massage of the face and head stimulates the brain, self-regulation, and self-healing processes, as well as regulates the energy of the entire body. It improves the functioning of the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems.

The condition of our organs is also the condition of our face and its appearance. The appearance of wrinkles, for example, depends on the condition of our entire body and the individual functions of the organs. Premature nasolabial wrinkles will indicate insufficient hydration of the body and poor condition of the large intestine. Another example is a vertical wrinkle between the eyebrows, which can be a sign of energy disorders of the liver. As a result, reflex stimulation of internal organs translates into anti-wrinkle therapy as well!

face reflexology chart

Secret of Reflexology

How does reflexology work? In simple terms, zonal therapy works like acupuncture. Blood starts flowing better in areas that are being pressed during the treatment. According to Chinese medicine, this restores the proper flow of energy. An energized body, in turn, means better work of organs and relief for the nervous system.

Your body is a precise mechanism, so everything in it is interconnected and dependent on each other. Pressure in one place causes a reaction in another, even though they are seemingly unrelated. According to zonal therapy, there is a strict relation between particular spots in the body. It’s reflected on a reflexology chart on which corresponding body points are marked precisely.

Unlocking The Wonders Of Reflexology

What are the benefits of reflexology? In the beginning, it’s important to mention that this method can have a positive effect on emotions and relieve stress. Yet, there is still no certain scientific confirmation of its therapeutic effects. According to its supporters, however, the list of benefits of foot reflexology is long and includes advantages such as:

  • strengthening the immune system and metabolic regulation
  • improving the work of internal organs and intestinal peristalsis
  • tendon and muscle strengthening
  • treatment of skin diseases and pain relief
  • relief of constipation and heartburn
  • improvement of blood circulation
  • increasing memory and concentration
  • reducing sleep disorders and improving sleep quality

Hand reflexotherapy has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the whole body, because it relieves headaches, improves blood circulation, removes heartburn, eliminates flatulence, regulates menstrual disorders, and supports the work of the immune system.

Face reflexotherapy is a good option if you suffer from insomnia, headaches, depression, anxiety, problems with concentration, and you feel constantly tired, both physically and mentally. It also allows you to improve blood circulation, body balance, and thinking processes. Last but not least it also improves the condition of the skin, its color, and vitality.

Navigating the side effects of reflexology

Are there any reflexology side effects? It’s a form of massage, so the body reacts as it would to any other form of such treatment. In most cases, people do not experience any negative effects, in fact, they are in a state of deep relaxation.

Yet, sometimes reflexotherapy can cause ailments, such as excessive sweating, headache, sleepiness, and fatigue. You should not worry about them, because they’re a natural and short-term reaction of the body after a massage treatment. If zonal therapy causes such effects, it means that the body is regenerating. It’s worth supporting the treatment process yourself, and leading a healthy lifestyle so that the therapy is more effective.

Going into the Session Room

Your zonal therapist will lead you to a comfortable reclining chair or a massage table. You may choose candlelight, relaxing music, and essential oils to make this experience as soothing as possible. The therapist will begin massaging your feet, hands, or face, applying the required pressure to target areas. They might use lotions, creams, and powders to loosen the muscles and achieve better results.

You can choose between a foot, hand, or face treatment separately or decide on two or three of them, depending on your needs and goals. Your zonal therapist will discuss your medical history in detail and review the results of your tests to determine what type of therapy will be most effective for you. This way he or she will be able to focus on the particular spots and their specific effects on the targeted areas.

How long does the session last?

How long is a reflexology session? A zonal therapy session usually lasts from 30 to 60 minutes. If the massage is performed on the feet, hands, and face, the session will take an hour.

What to wear for a reflexology treatment?

What to wear to reflexology? It doesn’t matter what you wear to your zonal therapy sessions. Your feet, hands, or face will be massaged, so the clothes don’t really matter. It’s important that you wear clothes that make you comfortable and help you relax during the treatment.

Finding the best treatment place

Where to get reflexology? Your goal is to find a reflexologist who has taken the proper training and gained experience. A zonal therapy education should take at least 300 hours. Check the websites of professional zonal therapy associations in your area.

It can be the American Reflexology Certification Board or Reflexology Association of America in the case of the US, or the British Association of Reflexologists. Check your country’s associations and certification local specifics. Ideally, you should look for a nationally certified reflexologist, who has trained at an accredited institution and passed a national zonal therapy exam.

What should be the frequency for the best results?

The length and frequency of the treatments depend on your individual needs and medical conditions. In many cases, reflexology performed once a week turns out to be sufficient. Over time, the frequency of treatments is slowly reduced to once in 2 weeks, and once-a-month visits, until satisfactory results are achieved. Usually, after the first three treatments, a specialist can tell whether zonal therapy has soothing effects on our body.

If you are entirely healthy, you may benefit from zonal therapy once in 6 months, and relax your body. Yet, these sorts of massages are primarily complementary therapies to traditional therapies and treatments. Regular sessions make the drugs better absorbed. In the case of oncological patients who have undergone chemotherapy, zonal therapy may be considered to be an additional treatment that may reduce anxiety and bring stress relief.

Pricing insights into reflexology

How much does reflexology cost? You can expect a cost ranging from $40-90 for a 1-hour massage session, or $30-50 for a 30-minute massage session. Reflexology treatments are usually charged by the hour, but this can also vary from one massage therapist to another.

Similar to any massage treatment, the cost of reflexology varies, depending on the country, the experience of the licensed massage therapists, and the medical facility. However, the price is usually similar to a traditional massage session. The cost also depends on your choice of a massaged area. If the session includes feet, hands, and the face, the price will rise to the highest.

Tracing the legacy of reflexology

Where did reflexology originate from? Zonal therapy is based on ancient Chinese knowledge about meridians, which are energy flow channels. It has been known for several thousand years, and it became popular in the West in the 1980s.

According to its supporters, zonal therapy can improve your health by complementing traditional medicine. The fact that the human face has nerve endings is also known in conventional medicine. What connects reflexotherapy and conventional medicine is the same goal, which is first and foremost to improve people’s well-being.

American Reflexology Certification Board

Reflexology Association of America

Association of Reflexologists

Quattrin R, Zanini A, Buchini S, Turello D, Annunziata MA, Vidotti C, Colombatti A, Brusaferro S. Use of reflexology foot massage to reduce anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients in chemotherapy treatment: methodology and outcomes. J Nurs Manag. 2006 Mar;14(2):96-105. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2934.2006.00557.x. PMID: 16487421.

If you are hearing the word hammam for the first time then this is the right article for you. Hammam, also known as a Turkish bath, is concluded of different bathing rituals that take place in a public bath. Each part of this ritual has a specific benefit for your body.

Let’s start with the first question and see what the Turkish hammam is!

What Is a Hammam?

Hamam is a special place that, throughout the centuries, people have used not only for cleaning their entire bodies but also to socialize and build connections. A Turkish bath has different parts, and each is intended for a specific reason. These parts can be listed as the following hammam chambers:

  • Entrance hall
  • Hot room
  • Cooling room

Hammam History

Turkish baths & hammams as we know them today have been influenced by many cultures throughout history, such as Greek, Roman, and even Byzantine. Later came the Islamic influence that today you see as the gender-separated baths. The rise of the Turkish hammam came in the Ottoman Empire that started in the 14th century. These civilizations and their cultures have shaped the hammam’s rich history and contributed to its current form.

Hammam Comparisons

All around the world, different cultures have developed their own bathing rituals over the centuries and the place to practice them. From Morocco to Japan, there are unique bath cultures. There are many similarities between each of these practices but is the differences that make them unique.

Moroccan Hammam

The most similar of all to a traditional Turkish bath is the Moroccan hammam. But when it comes to the difference between a Turkish bath and a Moroccan bath, we see that there are notable distinctions.

Unlike a Turkish bath, you enter a steam room, and then you will get a scrub down with a special black soap that is made out of olive oil and olive paste. There is usually whole body massage with argan oil or olive oil, which will leave you with softer skin. Moroccan hammam comes with its own traditions and culture as well. Moroccan women sometimes sing and dance in the hammam, which can be a totally different experience.

Now moving on to the Far East.

Korean Jimjilbang

With its own sets of rules and traditions, a Korean jimjibang is way different than what you think. There are gender-separated parts in the whole bathhouse but also communal space that both men and women can enjoy.

First, you undress and enter a place with bathtubs that contain different temperatures of water so you can choose which one to use. You can also use a sauna. After your skin is soft enough, it is time for the scrubbing. You would lie fully nude on a massage table and get your treatment. When you are clean, you will receive clean clothes from the staff and enter a communal space where you can continue unwinding and get snacks.

Since Korean jimjibangs are open 24/7, you can stay as long as you want. There are sleeping rooms where people can sleep as well.

Japanese Onsen

What makes Japanese onsen one of a kind is the fact that onsen means “hot spring” in English. Onsens are built around hot springs, and part of the practice is to relax in the hot spring. Before entering the hot spring, you will have to undress. There are showers there so you can wash yourself to not contaminate the hot spring. You will need to rinse yourself whenever you want to enter another bath as well.

Hammam Benefits

Hammam is not just about getting your body cleaned. The combination of getting your entire naked body cleaned and having time to unwind and connect with other people while getting pampered has many benefits. Here are some of the hammam benefits:

  • Muscle relaxation
  • Body detoxification
  • Better blood flow
  • Improve immune system
  • Improve skin texture
  • Decrease stress

When you first enter the hot room in the hammam, the heat and steam help relax your body and muscles. Being in the hot room opens up your pores and helps your body sweat and get rid of toxins. The heat also promotes better blood flow because your blood vessels expand, which in turn will help your immune system.

Moving on from the hot room, you enter the main chamber of the hamam for your complete body scrub. Not only the scrubbing helps with blood flow, but it also removes dead skin, and you will end up with softer skin.

Lastly, after the hammam ritual, which includes whole-body exfoliating and a bubble massage, it is hard not to feel relaxed while sipping Turkish tea and having snacks.

What to Expect & What to Know Beforehand

To have a better hammam experience, it is good to know what you will be dealing with. To prepare for your hammam experience, you can start by taking a light shower so your body is clean and ready. Shaving and grooming are optional but do check with the establishment that you are going to.

You do not usually need to take shampoo, towels, slippers, and soap with you because most establishments provide you with them. But just in case, you can take them with you.

You are going to a public bath, so it is good to know it involves some nudity, but it is also important to remember to be modest and respectful. There is another hammam etiquette to consider as well, such as interaction with attendants and guests.

Your Step-by-step Hammam Journey

Going to a public hammam might not seem too appealing at first, but we can assure you it is better than you think. With modern hammams offering a wide variety of services such as deep tissue massage and aromatherapy, there is so much to enjoy from this traditional spa experience.

In this part of the article, we are going to walk you through each step of a Turkish hammam experience to paint you a better picture.

First step:

You enter the check-in area, where you will turn in your phone for safekeeping.

Second step:

You will go to the lockers and changing area. You will undress and wear single-use underwear or just wrap your Turkish bath towel around you.

Third step

The beginning of your Turkish bath experience.

It starts with the hot room where the hot steam and heat help your body relax and your skin pores open to start sweating and get rid of toxins in your body. After spending 15 to 20 minutes in this room, you move on to the main chamber of the Turkish hammam, which is domed and has an elevated slab of marble that is heated. As you lay on the heated marble, the respective attendant starts scrubbing your body with an exfoliating glove.

When your attendant is done scrubbing all the dead skin from your body, they will rinse you with some hot water. Now it is time for a bubble bath. Not the bubble bath, you think. Your bath attendant covers you with mountains of bubbles and cleans your body. At last, with a splash of cold water to close your skin pores, you can move on or stay in the main chamber if you want. This traditional hammam treatment can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.

Depending on what additional services you ask for, it can take longer, maybe up to 2 hours. The last part would be going to the cool-down room to regroup and continue relaxing while having some snacks, fresh fruits, and Turkish tea.

How Much Does a Hammam Cost

Well sure, after reading all about hammam, you want to know if it is worth it. We say it is! Money-wise and otherwise. With the variety of services and Turkish hamams to choose from, you can find something that tickles your fancy without breaking the bank. Prices vary based on the hamam you go to and the kind of service you are getting. Your Turkish Hamam experience can cost you anywhere from $30 to $100. With that said, here we have provided you with some specifics about the services and packages as part of a traditional Turkish bath.

Package/Service Duration Price
Traditional Turkish baths 25-60 minutes €65 – €125
Ottoman Hammam Package 60 minutes €125
Anti-stress massage 50 minutes €80

To find which hammam packages or spa massages suit you, you can visit here and learn more about Çatma Mescit Hammam services.

Hammam in Istanbul

One of the major cities that you have to visit in Turkey is Istanbul, and what better way to experience Turkish culture than going to a Turkish bathhouse? You can find historic hammams all around Istanbul if you are interested in having an authentic Turkish hammam experience. Don’t worry, Istanbul has something for everyone, and Turkish baths & Hammams are no exception either. With more tourists visiting Istanbul every year, it is no wonder why there are so many hammams & Turkish baths options. Make sure to give Turkish Bath & Hammam a chance to blow your mind in the best way possible.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hammam

We have gathered the most common questions asked about Turkish baths and other components of a traditional Turkish bath that could be helpful to you in having a great experience when visiting a Turkish bathhouse. Take your time to go through these questions; the answers could be really helpful.

How Often Should I Visit a Hammam?

There are no limits to how many times you can visit a hammam. Also, it is not necessary to go to a hammam either. But here is what we can tell you since going to a Turkish Hammam includes being scrubbed, it might be a good idea to avoid overdoing it because it can hurt your skin in the long run. Too much exfoliation can make your skin sensitive and more prone to getting dry. So if you are planning a regular visit to a Turkish hammam spa, make it once a week.

Do I Need to Make a Reservation to Visit a Hammam?

Usually yes. This depends on the type of establishment you are visiting. Tourist hammams can get quite busy, so booking a time slot for yourself sounds like a great idea. But with more local hammams, a walk-in would be generally fine, and you would not need to wait for a long time.

How Long Does a Typical Hammam Experience Last?

Normally a typical hammam experience lasts anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes. You can stay longer if you like, and if you ask for additional services, it will take longer.

Are There Any Age Restrictions for Visiting a Hammam?

Yes! Children under the age of 12 are not allowed inside a hammam since it could be dangerous to their well-being. Also, relaxation and children do not really mix.

What Is The Difference between a Public and a Private Hammam?

Gender separation. One of the most important aspects of a Turkish hammam is that it is separated based on gender. This stands true in public baths all around Turkey. But private hammams are new additions to the Turkish Bath & Hammam culture providing the traditional hammam experience for couples, especially Western tourists.

How Do I Know If a Hammam Is Authentic and Traditional?

All establishments around Turkey, especially Istanbul, try their best to provide you with the most authentic hammam experience ever. But if you want to be able to tell if a hammam is authentic, here are the indicators. There is a public bathing area with an elevated slab of marble in the middle, and around it, you will see basins made out of marble which people can use to rinse themselves. Other than the scrubbing and foam bath, additional massages are newer items added to the authentic treatment.

Can I Bring My Children to a Hammam?

No, you can’t. No children under the age of 12 are allowed in hammams. This is due to the health and safety of the children. Also, a hammam is a place of peace, and children are not really the most peaceful beings; therefore, it is best not to bring them in a hammam.

Are There Any Time Restrictions for Visiting a Hammam?

No, but it depends. Generally speaking, there is no time limitation when it comes to how long you can stay in the hammam. But if you are visiting a fairly busy establishment, there could be time restrictions for example, you are only allowed to stay an hour extra after you are done with your hammam experience.

References:

http://www.victorianturkishbath.org/

http://www.medicaljournalshouse.com/index.php/ADR-CommunityHealth/article/view/324/264

There are three distinguished rooms when you hear the word hammam chamber. Sorry, but the Chamber of Secrets isn’t one of them. Each hammam chamber has a special purpose, and we are going to go through each one so you will know what to expect when visiting a Turkish hammam.

Exploring Different Rooms in a Hammam

As we said, a typical historic hammam has three main rooms. They all have different functions and designs.

  • Entrance hall or “Camekan”
  • Hot room or “Sicaklik”
  • Cooling room or “Sogukluk”

With modern Turkish baths, there could be additional rooms such as saunas, jacuzzies, or even massage rooms. Now let’s see what the purpose of each room is and how you would move between them.

Camekan (Entrance Hall)

The word camekan consists of two words that actually come from Farsi; the first is “came” meaning clothes, and the second is “kan” meaning to take off. So basically, meaning where you can take your clothes off. This part of the hammam consists of the entrance hall, lockers, and changing cabins. In the entrance hall, you will be greeted by the hammam staff, and you can turn in your phone for safekeeping since it is not allowed to take your phone inside the facility, especially other hammam chambers.

After this, you are ready to take off your clothes and wrap yourself in a peshtemal or you can call it a Turkish bath towel. Then you can put your belongings in your locker, and you are ready to embark on your Turkish bath experience.

Sicaklik (Hot Room)

In English, “sicak” means hot, and this hammam chamber is called the hot room because the temperature is usually kept between 40 to 50 degrees Celsius, and of course, there is hot steam as well. The purpose of this hammam chamber is to prepare your body for cleaning while the heat relaxes your body and muscles.

Your bath attendant will bring you to the hot room, where everything is usually made of marble. There is a central hot marble stone that is elevated, and you can lie on it. There are basins around this hammam chamber with taps to get warm water to rinse yourself or to cool down a bit. Every hammam sink is also made out of marble too.

While you are laying on the central hot marble stone, your respective attendant will start scrubbing your entire body to get rid of the dead skin. Another part of the hammam treatment is the bubble bath or the foam massage. After exfoliating, your bath attendant rinses you and starts burying you under mountains of bubbles they make using the exfoliating glove.

Sauna

In some public baths, there might be a designated room for steam baths or, as you know them, saunas. In a Turkish bath, the sauna would also be made out of marble as well because, traditionally, saunas are made out of wood. And you would get the steam from pouring water on the hot stones in the middle of the room.

Sogukluk (Cooling Room)

What is the opposite of hot? Cold! That is what “soguk” means in English. After an intense scrub down and massage it is time to unwind even more. The cooling room is normally the last stop in the Turkish bath experience. This hammam chamber is also made out of marble. There are usually a few showers or even a cold pool for you to plunge in. The cold water will close your pores and help your body and muscles to readjust.

When you are all refreshed, the hammam staff will bring you some snacks and Turkish tea to enjoy.

Hammam Architecture and Design

Another aspect of a Turkish bath that makes it unique all around the world is its architecture and design.

Even though there are other places, such as a Moroccan hammam, that have similarities, the architecture is still one of a kind when it comes to a Turkish bath.

The initial inspiration for a Turkish bath came from the Roman public baths. Later on, in the 14th century, Islamic influence showed up in the design too.

Turkish Bath Marble

Marble is the main material used in the construction of a Turkish hammam. There are many good reasons why marble is so favorable for making and designing the inside of a hammam.

  • Durability
  • Heat retention
  • Aesthetics
  • Hygiene

Now let’s see how each of these aspects contributes to marble being such a favorable material when it comes to constructing a Turkish hammam chamber.

Durability

Compared with other materials that can be used in making a hammam, marble is very durable. This makes marble a great choice for a hammam.

The wearing down is very slow, which gives more time to use it without needing to replace or even mend it. Marble’s durability is also about the heat. The constant temperature change does not affect the stone that much. You do not see any sign of breaking because of the temperature change, which makes it the best option for a hammam.

Heat Retention

Speaking of temperature, marble is also great at absorbing heat and keeping it. With this feature, there is no need to spend too much power and energy to maintain the heat inside the hammam. With minimum energy to heat up the hammam environment, you can maintain the entire hammam at a warm temperature making it ideal for the guests.

Aesthetics

Not only marble is durable and retains heat very well, but it is also one of the most beautiful materials used in construction and design. Marble, with its color, veiny design, and smooth surface, adds a level of luxury to the inside of the hammam.

Hygiene

Hygiene goes hand in hand with both bath culture and hammam. And what better option than marble? Due to the smooth surface of marble, water can not be absorbed by it. This prevents bacteria and mold to form, also making it easy to clean. For a place such as a hammam, this feature of marble makes it the best construction material.

Hammam Seating and Layout

Although the main reason to go to the hammam is to get clean, the close second reason is to socialize. The main hammam chamber, which is the hot room, is usually the biggest chamber in the hammam, and there are marble benches or platforms all around the hot room for people to sit on and socialize. The socializing can continue to the cooling room too. Some hammams might have lounges dedicated to relaxing and socializing.

The Hammam Environment

To create the best environment to better serve you and other guests to achieve peace and tranquility, the hammam staff would use incense sticks as a part of aromatherapy too. There would not be any harsh lighting accompanied by soft music to mentally prepare you for a relaxing time. In historic hammams, you might even see that in the main hammam chamber, there are skylights that let natural light in. That is why hammam chambers are domed with high ceilings.

Calming Colors and Decor

The color schemes used in hammams can vary a bit. Traditional and historic places usually go with the natural colors of marble, such as beige or even white. Both these colors are not only calming but also symbols of purity as well. Other than earthy tones that symbolize modesty, some blue, turquoise, and green to resemble water and nature could also be in the designs of a hammam. More modern hammams might incorporate some gold and silver to create a feeling of luxury for their customers.

Belly Stone Hammam

If you have read the part about hammam chambers, especially sicaklik or the hot room, you would know what we are talking about. Yes, the elevated platform in the middle of the hot room has a big slab of marble on it, and it is heated. This central hot marble stone, also called a navel stone, is a key element in the hot room. You can just lay on it and relax. But also is where you would get your whole body scrubbed.

The heating underneath the navel stone makes it easier to lay on the stone, especially because you would be semi-naked.

Hammam Rituals and Traditions

Same as every place you go to that comes with rules to follow Turkish hammam has its own sets of rituals and hammam traditions. By following these traditions, you will have an authentic Turkish bath experience.

  • Undressing and wrapping yourself up in a peshtemal or a traditional Turkish bath towel
  • Entering the hot room and lying on the central hot marble stone so your body adjusts to the heat
  • A friendly hammam attendant starts scrubbing your entire body with an exfoliating glove (kese)
  • After rinsing you with hot water, your hammam attendant covers you with bubbles and washes your body.
  • You can move to the cooling room to continue unwinding and have a plunge in the cold pool.
  • You can enjoy drinking some Turkish tea and snacks.

All of these happen while you are with other guests in the Turkish bath, and you can socialize with them.

References:

GoTürkiye: Official Travel Guide of Türkiye, Traditional Turkish Hammams

Bahtiyar Karatosun M, Baz T. N. Turkish Baths as Cultural Heritage in the Context of Tangible and Intangible. Architecture Research 2017, 7(3): 84-91 DOI: 10.5923/j.arch.20170703.03.

Many people confuse reflexology with a traditional massage, which is not the case. On the surface, reflexology vs deep tissue massage may seem similar because they both involve healing and relaxation. Both potentially help address a wide range of issues and they both should be done by trained professionals.

Yet, there are various types of massage and treatments, and understanding their differences will help you choose the most effective one that is tailored exactly to your needs. While there are some similarities between these two forms of body therapy, reflexology vs deep tissue massage differ when it comes to their major points. What are they?

Let’s explore!

Exploring The Difference Between Reflexology And Deep Tissue

Reflexology isn’t technically a massage, yet uses pressure on specific body points called reflexes, while deep tissue treatment is recognized as one of the most popular therapeutic massage types. There are many dissimilarities between these two methods of bringing relief to patients, although both focus on pressure on specific parts of the body. This is how we can list the major differences between reflexology vs deep tissue massage:

  • Purpose
  • Techniques
  • Targeted areas
  • Targeted patients
  • Benefits
  • Cost

Here’s an overview of the main differences between reflexology practice and deep tissue massage that you may find intriguing.

Purpose

While reflexology’s purpose is to improve the function of your organs, deep tissue treatment mostly aims to release tension throughout your stiff muscles and relieve the pain. Deep tissue treatment is a great solution to injuries to your joints, spine, and muscles, whereas zonal therapy aka reflexology is more internally based and aims to light up your mood and reduce anxiety or depression. You probably wonder how it is all done. Move on to the next part to learn how both treatments use different techniques in order to bring you their best results.

Techniques

Reflexology involves small muscle movements of the therapist’s hands, thumbs, and fingers, whereas deep tissue treatment uses large muscle movements of the hands, feet, arms, and elbows.

Zonal therapy generally uses only the fingers of the reflexology therapist to provide relief, while deep tissue therapists may include a variety of essential oils or lotions during the massage session.

In reflexology, the healing process is based on stimulating the nervous system through reflex points, while deep tissue massage cures by direct contact with muscle and connective tissue. What are the target areas of both forms of treatment?

Targeted Areas

Zonal therapy is applied to specific areas of the body, whereas deep tissue treatment can be performed on the muscles and connective tissue of the entire body, depending on the problem you’re having. Reflexology uses body maps that are on the feet, hands, and face, whereas deep tissue massage doesn’t.

While a deep tissue massage can be assisted by a reflexology treatment, reflexology includes the feet, hands, and face only. Zonal therapy promotes a response in an area removed from the stimulated reflex point, whereas deep tissue massage focuses on a local response in the muscles and connective tissue.

Targeted Patients

Zonal therapy has a positive effect on emotions and relieves stress, whereas deep tissue treatment uses deep pressure on the body zones for patients suffering from chronic muscle tension or areas that ache or feel contracted.

Among many types of therapies, deep tissue treatment is useful for areas of hypertension, such as a stiff neck or sore shoulders, while reflexology is a more universal type of therapy and improves general health and well-being, even if you don’t have any current health problems.

Benefits

Reflexology improves the function of the organs through reflexive stimulation, whereas deep tissue massage therapy changes the tissue through direct stimulation. For example, according to zonal therapy, tenderness on the side of the heel can be a symptom of dysfunction in the pelvic area, and your little finger symbolizes… the small intestine!

The benefits of reflexology are improved blood circulation, relaxation, and stress reduction, while deep tissue massage can reduce chronic pain, release muscle tension, and correct poor posture.

Deep tissue massage specifically targets the trigger points that cause muscle knots and pulled muscles, whereas reflexology stimulates your body’s nerve function and increases your energy levels.

Cost

Deep tissue massage pricing is usually from $95 to $160, while reflexology treatment can cost between $60-90 for a fifty-minute massage session, or $30-50 for a 25-minute one.

These prices vary depending on the country, the experience of the licensed massage therapists, and the medical facility or SPA centers. The cost also strictly depends on your choice of a massaged area. If a reflexology session includes feet, hands, and the face, the package will have the highest price, similar to a deep tissue full-body massage option.

Which One Is Better for Me?

Before choosing which of the two types of therapy is the better option, you need to take a few factors into consideration. Reflexology is a great choice if you’re looking for a holistic approach to healing, while deep tissue treatment focuses on easing muscle tension and bringing pain relief.

Keep in mind that it’s always crucial to consider medical conditions that these treatments may possibly exacerbate and to consult with a professional therapist. Both reflexology and deep tissue massage might result in several benefits. It all comes down to personal preference and discussing your health condition with trained practitioners. By choosing the right form of treatment, you will not only relax and improve your overall well-being but also may be able to solve several health issues.

If You Have Digestive Problems…

Reflexology! Zonal therapy can bring relief from stomach bloating, constipation, and other digestive problems you may be having. Keep in mind it can take time to find the cause and bring back a state of balance.

According to zonal therapy, there are specific pressure points connected to our stomach. A series of reflexology sessions can help increase blood flow and stimulation to the digestive system and decrease stress in that area. With stress reduction, your body will start to heal itself.

If You Are Suffering from Severe Headaches and Migraines…

Reflexology! While deep tissue may be a good therapy option when you suffer from tension headaches, reflexology is believed to help cure headaches of many different sources.

There are a few studies that have looked into how stimulating pressure points on the head can relieve tension headaches. Some research also shows that stimulating pressure points is an effective treatment for migraine relief.

If You Have Chronic Pain and/or Sports Injuries…

Deep tissue massage! Deep tissue treatment is a form of massage generally used to treat musculoskeletal problems, such as pain and sports injuries, and is therefore popular among athletes.

During the session, a therapist will apply sustained pressure using slow, deep strokes. This way they will target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissues and help break up scar tissue. This way your pain in muscle and tissue will be significantly reduced.

If You Are Suffering From Muscle Tension…

Deep tissue massage! Deep tissue massage targets chronic tension in muscles that lie deep in your body. During this type of therapy, strokes, pressure, and friction go across the muscle grain.

Muscle adhesions can block circulation and cause tension. Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking them down to restore movement and release tension. Deep tissue sessions are especially useful in helping with chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders.

References:

Quinn C, Chandler C, Moraska A. Massage therapy and frequency of chronic tension headaches. Am J Public Health. 2002 Oct;92(10):1657-61. doi: 10.2105/ajph.92.10.1657. PMID: 12356617; PMCID: PMC1447303.

-Xu JH, Mi HY. A randomized controlled trial of acupressure as an adjunctive therapy to sodium valproate on the prevention of chronic migraine with aura. Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Jul;96(27):e7477. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000007477. PMID: 28682918; PMCID: PMC5502191.

-Majchrzycki M, Kocur P, Kotwicki T. Deep tissue massage and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for low back pain: a prospective randomized trial. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014 Feb 23;2014:287597. doi: 10.1155/2014/287597. PMID: 24707200; PMCID: PMC3953439.

-Uryzaj R, Kuklinska A, Cabak A. THE EFFECT OF DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE ON TENSION REDUCTION IN THE STRUCTURAL COMPONENTS OF THE SUPERFICIAL BACKLINE. Polish Journal of Sports Medicine. (2016). 32. 157-163. 10.5604/1232406X.1223275.

Steam baths and hammams are sometimes mentioned interchangeably, which couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a fact that Turkish baths and steam rooms have some common points. Yet, all in all, these moist heat therapies actually vary quite a lot. While both offer a relaxing experience and a variety of health benefits for your skin, muscles, and blood pressure, their differences outnumber the similarities. If you are intrigued, take a closer look at our hammam vs steam room article, and decide which of the rituals works better for you. Some of the differences may really surprise you!

Marble Palace vs Tiny Spa Oasis

Hammams have a long history and cultural significance, particularly in the Middle East and Turkey, while steam rooms are a relatively modern invention. You can even get your own steam bath at home, yet a proper Turkish bath ritual must be done in a hammam you visit. In the past, Turkish baths were also located in wealthy homes, but most people had to go to a public bath to take advantage of the benefits of this amazing ritual. Here are some different key points that differentiate hammam and a steam room:

  • Steady hot vs varying temperature
  • Different purpose: luxurious flourish vs pure relaxation
  • Interior design: Ottoman splendor vs confined space
  • Culturally designing approach: fancy mosaic vs minimalism
  • Male or female: unisex vs gender separation
  • Attire: traditional clothing vs casual style
  • Community spirit vs individual treatment
  • Bathing rituals vs simplicity

Let’s dive a little deeper and check the major differences between a hammam vs steam room.

Steady Hot vs Varying Temperature

Hammams can be cooler than steam baths because they include separate rooms with different temperatures. If you feel you need a break from the excessive heat, you can spend some time in a warm room where the temperature is only around 30 degrees Celsius. After your bathing ritual, you will relax in a cold room, while in a steam bath, you only get a fixed temperature of 43-48 degrees Celsius.

Turkish baths usually involve water being poured over the body, while steam rooms use water-filled generator pumps to create moist heat in the air. Due to the extreme, wet heat a steam bath should take approximately 15 minutes, while the Turkish bath rituals can easily last even up to two hours. Either way, do not exaggerate the time you spent in such high temperatures. The beneficial effects of heat therapy on cardiovascular health are crucial, but your comfort and health come first, so be careful about the time you spend.

Different Purpose: Luxurious Flourish vs Pure Relaxation

Another steam room vs hammam difference is their purpose. Turkish baths may have a stronger focus on exfoliation and cleansing, while steam rooms are primarily used for relaxation and detoxification. In the hammams, you will experience the celebration of the body through many beauty rituals, while a steam bath can be a quick post-workout recovery or a fast relaxation after a heavy day at work.

Turkish baths often have a traditional and cultural feel, while steam rooms have a more modern, spa-like atmosphere. Due to their cultural importance, hammams have been a space for beauty and health rituals, the meeting place of local communities, as much as places to celebrate your life’s special moments. Compared to Turkish baths, steam baths are only pure relaxation and detoxification treatments.

Interior Design: Ottoman Splendor vs Confined Space

Hammam buildings often involve a series of different rooms with varying levels of heat and humidity, while traditional steam rooms are usually a single enclosed space. In a Turkish bath, you will move from one room to another, and during a steam bath, you can relax and heal your mental health in one confined space.

Hammams typically feature a centrally heated marble platform and surrounding benches, while steam rooms have simpler seating space. The limited space of the steam room is a practical solution that gives you comfort, while the luxuriously large space of a traditional hammam will surely impress you.

Culturally Designing Approach: Fancy Mosaics vs Minimalism

Hammams have a larger surface area and are usually tiled, while steam rooms are often made of stone, marble, and granite. Steam baths may also be covered with glass or plastic, as these materials don’t absorb moisture either.

Historic hammams are often decorated with intricate tile work and mosaics, while steam rooms tend to have a more minimalistic design. Due to the design of the hammam bathhouse, you may feel like in an Ottoman palace, while the modern space of the steam room is more modest and casual.

Male or Female: Unisex vs Gender Separation

Hammams may have separate areas for men and women, while steam rooms are usually unisex. Many Turkish baths now offer rituals for both men and women, such as couples’ massages. However, according to tradition and in major hammams, female and male sections are divided. If not, there may be separate days or hours for men’s and women’s treatments. The steam room is too small to be gender segregated. Moreover, there is no such custom resulting from history, tradition, or culture.

Attire: Traditional Clothing vs Casual Style

Hammams may involve specific clothing or coverings, such as a peştemal or takunya, while steam rooms typically do not require any special attire. Wear a towel and sandals in the steam room for hygienic reasons so that your bare skin doesn’t have any contact with the hot seating area. It’s also wise to protect yourself from the sweat of other users.

Traditional hammam towels called peştemal can be made out of high-quality Turkish cotton, while you can use any kind of clothing or towel in a steam bath. Yet, organic cotton absorbs excess heat the best, so it’s a great fabric choice for your skin, together with bamboo and linen. Peştemal is a beautiful example of traditional design and for this reason, a popular souvenir that tourists often bring back from holidays in Turkey. If you like it too, why not use it in the steam room as well?

Community Spirit vs Individual Treatment

Hammams often involve a communal experience, with groups of people gathering to socialize and bathe together, while steam rooms are often used alone or in pairs. The limited space of the steam room doesn’t allow for gatherings or socialization, in contrast to the considerable space of the Turkish bath.

Moreover, community spirit wasn’t the cultural inclination of the steam room, which was intended to be an individualistic experience, unlike the hammam ritual. The steam room was created for your individual need to calm down and regain peace, while Turkish baths additionally serve as meeting points for family, friends, and neighbors.

Bathing Rituals vs Simplicity

Hammams may use natural ingredients and their positive effects in the treatments, such as olive oil and honey, while steam rooms typically do not. The inhaling steam in a steam room, mixed with eucalyptus oil, opens your sinuses, clears the nasal passage, and relieves congestion. Yet, the hammam experience includes varied products for specific treatments like scrubbing, foam baths, or essential oils massages.

Hammams may have more elaborate bathing rituals, such as the use of special bowls and buckets for pouring water, while steam rooms are relatively simple. All you need to do during your steam bath is sit back, close your eyes, relax, and enjoy the moment!

References:

Traditional Turkish Hammams. GoTürkiye: Official Travel Guide of Türkiye.

-Brunt VE, Minson CT. Heat therapy: mechanistic underpinnings and applications to cardiovascular health. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2021 Jun 1;130(6):1684-1704. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00141.2020. Epub 2021 Apr 1. PMID: 33792402; PMCID: PMC8285605.

-Mazhar SA, Anjum R, Anwar AI, Khan AA. Hammam Therapy: An Ancient Wisdom with Contemporary Relevance. J Integ Comm Health 2020; 9(1): 25-30.

-Forbes Home. 5 Steam Room Design Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless.

-Graiouid, S. Communication and the social production of space: The hammam, the public sphere and Moroccan women. Journal of North Africa Studies. (2004) 9. 10.1080/1362938042000292324.

-Turkish Bath Products to Try At Least Once. GoTürkiye: Official Travel Guide of Türkiye.

Traditional Thai massage and deep tissue sessions are treatments that you may not associate with the gentle movements of the masseur’s soft hands. And you’re right! While both are painless, they need a lot of intense pressure and firm techniques on the part of the massage therapist, yet, that’s where their similarities end. Thai massage has ancient traditions, while the official history of deep tissue treatment dates not earlier than the mid-1800s. The first one emphasizes stretching and acupressure, unlike deep tissue treatment, and it’s often called a “lazy yoga massage”. Both types of treatment have their own specific techniques, focus areas, and benefits. Let’s take a closer look at Thai massage vs deep tissue compare their unique features and figure out which one is the best for you!

Thai Massage vs Deep Tissue: Weighing Your Options

The main differences between Thai massage vs deep tissue are quite obvious – the first one is much older and promotes health and wellbeing, while deep tissue is more often associated with injury remedies and athletes’ treatment. What about other factors? To present them all systematically and transparently, we grouped the differences between these two forms of treatments as follows:

  • Techniques & Methods
  • Purpose & Benefits
  • Pressure & Intensity
  • Focus areas & Targeted concerns
  • Experience & Sensation
  • Suitability & Contraindications
  • Budgeting

#1 Techniques & Methods

As you might know, the biggest differences between Thai massage vs deep tissue lie in the way they are performed, that is, to a large extent – their specific techniques.

While deep tissue treatment requires focused techniques such as circular strokes and kneading, a traditional Thai session involves stretching and moves that are both more fluid and rhythmic. A traditional Thai treatment also emphasizes various stretches similar to yoga practice, while deep tissue massage therapy does not.

Deep tissue treatment requires you to lie down on a special massage table, whereas a Thai one is most typically performed on a floor mat. That kind of surface allows a much wider range of motion, since in Thai practice, unlike in deep tissue treatment, you won’t only be lying on your back or stomach.

#2 Purpose & Benefits

Whereas they both may target similar concerns, Thai and deep tissue treatments also have some specifics when it comes to their amazing health benefits. Deep tissue massage’s purpose is to break up muscle adhesions and improve healing, while Thai treatment affects your body by improving its flexibility, bringing relaxation, and increasing joint mobilization.

If your aim is to lessen your sports injuries’ effects and release your body’s tension and chronic pain, a deep tissue treatment can be a better match, whereas a Thai session is a great procedure for improved movement, circulation, and a flow of life energy.

#3 Pressure & Intensity

Deep tissue treatment requires deep pressure during the entire session, whereas a Thai one uses more superficial pressure and touch. Thai treatment isn’t gentle stroking but lots of pulling and stretching, while deep tissue involves a lot of intense pressure.

To follow your progress, a massage therapist can make an agreement with you to measure the intensity of deep tissue treatment on a 1 to 10 scale, and a Thai procedure has a completely different approach from what you may be used to. During your session you will be pulled and stretched with thumbs, elbows, and knees, so it may feel very intense too, but in a different sense than in the case of deep tissue treatment.

#4 Focus Areas & Targeted Concerns

Deep tissue treatment is quite targeted, whereas Thai one tends to be rather a full-body experience. Deep tissue massage uses firm and deliberate pressure to reach and affect certain pain spots in your body, while Thai treatment involves diversified methods on the whole body.

During a Thai massage, a therapist uses their feet to apply extra pressure on target areas of the whole body. In deep tissue treatment, on the other hand, a therapist applies deeper penetration on focus problem areas such as the neck, back, or shoulders.

#5 Experience & Sensation

Thai treatment is a great option if you want to be involved and play an active role, while deep tissue is passive from your side, with the therapist doing all the work. If a treatment that’s halfway to an assisted yoga session sounds interesting to you, then Thai massage may be a more exciting option than deep tissue.

Thai treatment is a very invigorating and active experience, whereas deep tissue seems to be an absolute dream for stiff muscles and specific pain knots. During Thai treatment the therapist may push, pull and move you around, so you certainly won’t fall asleep during your session!

#6 Suitability & Contraindications

While most people of a wide age range and in good health conditions can benefit from massage therapy, there will always be certain contraindications. You should contact an experienced specialist who will help you choose the solution that will serve you best.

Deep tissue treatment might be dangerous if you take medications that increase the risk of blood clots or deep vein thrombosis, while Thai sessions can pose health risks during pregnancy and after you have just undergone surgery. People with certain health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, shouldn’t get a Thai massage, whereas low blood pressure or orthostatic hypotension is a concern in deep tissue therapy sessions.

#7 Budgeting

Before you decide what type of treatment to choose, ask yourself what results you want to achieve. All in all, you are the one who knows best what kind of massage therapy will be suitable for your health and well-being, with the help of professional knowledge, of course!

What exactly do you need? Deep Tissue Thai
Specific muscle pain relief
Full-body relaxation
Injury relief
Flexibility improvement
Tension headaches relief  
Active participation

Remember that the most important issue before starting any massage therapy is to consult a specialist. A properly educated and experienced therapist will review your health condition and medical history. Based on this information and a medical interview with you, they will determine what type of therapy treatment will be most effective for you and good for your well-being.

References:

Juntakarn C, Prasartritha T, Petrakard P. The Effectiveness of Thai Massage and Joint Mobilization. Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2017 Jun 30;10(2):3-8. doi: 10.3822/ijtmb.v10i2.350. PMID: 28690703; PMCID: PMC5495387.

Koren Y, Kalichman L. Deep tissue massage: What are we talking about? J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2018 Apr;22(2):247-251. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2017.05.006. Epub 2017 May 17. PMID: 29861215.

Nuad Thai, traditional Thai massage. UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.