Sauna-goers In Northern and Central Europe are revitalizing the sauna experience with an exciting ritual that blends wellness and entertainment. Called Sauna Aufguss, sometimes shortened to just Aufguss (which is the German word for “infusion”), the practice is rapidly gaining momentum as a global phenomenon.

An Aufguss ritual is led by an Aufgussmeister, who essentially serves as the emcee of the Aufguss experience. After pouring water over the sauna rocks to increase humidity, he or she begins the “towel ritual,” a performance of towel waving and spinning designed to move heat throughout the room. Essential oils are typically incorporated for aromatherapy while ice and snow are used to control temperature and humidity during the ritual.

While the basic tenants of the Aufguss ritual remain the same, the performance itself is unique to the Aufgussmeister — like any art form, everyone has their own style. Some practitioners use music, lighting and visuals to enhance the experience, while others take it to the next level with elaborate costumes and themes — some even perform famous movie scenes during the ritual.

Aufgussmeisters even enter competitions to show off their talents. Aufguss WM, for example, judges Aufgussmeisters for professionalism, towel waving techniques, fragrance use and how the heat is managed and distributed. (And that’s just some of the criteria!)

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While Aufguss is largely a European tradition, North America may not be too far behind. The Nordik Spa-Nature in Canada, for example, now offers Aufguss to their guests; the Aufgussmeisters were even trained in Germany to help resort guests receive an authentic experience.