I sat in a 67 degree sauna for 45 minutes to make my skin glow and boost my wellness, here’s what happened…

Like most millennials who work hard, play harder and then try and undo the damage, I’ll do anything in the quest for wellness. Desk full of crystals? Check. £60 splurged on a Himalayan salt lamp? You bet! Daily juices packed with ayuverdic powders I can’t even pronounce? Obviously.

So, when Glow Bar, a new wellness haunt, opened its doors in central London, I *had* to try it.

Glow Bar, which is the most Instagrammable venue I’ve ever set foot in, is a wellness company for women created by Sasha Sabapathy.

I know what you’re thinking: heard it all before. However, Glow Bar is unique courtesy of the main attraction: its private infrared sauna pods.

Like most great wellness trends, this one hails from LA and New York. It involves you sitting (and seriously) sweating in an infrared sauna for 45-minutes.

“Sweating as a means of healing has been used for centuries in cultures from South America to India. Utilising the most modern of technologies, our infrared saunas allow you to have a similar experience with maximised benefits,” says Sasha.

The benefits

Glowing skin: Infrared therapy stimulates collagen production while healing your skin from the surface to deeper levels. The action of profusely sweating at a lower temperature means that your skin literally glows from the moment you leave, according to Sasha.

Mood-booster:
The infrared saunas have been proven to release endorphins in your brain, helping to lower cortisol levels. This leaves you feeling a “runners high” when you’re done giving you the same benefit as a workout without the hard work. Sign us up.

45-minute long infrared sauna sessions help your mind and muscles to relax in a substantial way, helping you to have a better nights sleep and reset bad sleeping patterns.

Better wellbeing:
Increased circulation, detoxification and immune system boosting are all wonderful effects from infrared therapy. Research has shown that profuse sweating can reduce mercury levels in the body in addition to fighting infections, making our saunas the perfect lifestyle choice for those with a seafood heavy diet or if you’re fighting a cold.

The review

The best part about the pods is that you can take a friend in with you and trust me, you’ll need the moral support.

We were led into possibly the chicest changing room I’ve witnessed and given branded dressing gowns before heading into the pod itself. There’s a waiting area kitted out with an aromatherapy diffuser and bottles of Fiji water, as well as charcoal-infused water, which you’ll get through *pretty* quickly. They advise you to sit in the sauna naked but my friend and I opted for bikinis. You can plug your phone in to play your own music or a podcast, take a book in or just sit in silence.

Optimistically, we started chatting away but after the first 20 minutes went by, we were so hot we couldn’t stifle a word of conversation.

I’ll be honest, I left the room approximately 5 times to catch my breath but the 45 minutes did pass pretty quickly.

After our ‘sweat sesh’, we were treated to super refreshing ‘moon milks’ – a concoction of delicious macqui Berry, ashwagandha and lavender – and perused the carefully curated self-care products available in the shop.

The pods cost £40 a session (but you can get the first two for £55 or add a friend into yours for £15) and considering my friend and I would usually splurge over £50 each on a prosecco-fuelled meal that we probably wouldn’t remember, we agreed it was a worthwhile investment.

After a two-week holiday full of too much sangria and tapas, my evening at Glow Bar left me feeling revitalised and upbeat. It was honestly the perfect mood boost. I had trouble sleeping (possibly due to the endorphins) but my colleagues all noted my skin was glowing the next day.

Want to get your glow on? Glow Bar is open now on Mortimer Street, London.

Meet Sasha Sabapathy: The beauty boss behind Glow Bar

These days you’ll find 28-year-old Sasha Sabapathy drinking matcha tea in her cosy North London home; a ginger cat and fluffy Shih Tzu within patting distance. The soundtrack of Hamiliton is blasting in the background as she goes over the plans for her modern wellness brand, Glow Bar.

It’s a long way from the stressed and anxious 20-year-old – unhappy and far from home in New York – that she used to be.

But then she always had that entrepreneurial spirit, it just took some really sh*t times to spark the idea of something good.

Here, she shares her story of how she improved her mental health, the life moments that led to the beginning of her business and what gives her the mental stamina to keep going.

My first ever job was selling rocks for charity – yes, really!

Sasha’s success started young, with a booming paperweight business that she sold like contraband in the schoolyard.

“I would literally go hunting for pebble shaped rocks in my garden, give them a good clean, paint them, and rebrand them as paperweights.”, says Sasha. “Even as a child I was really aware of unfairness in the world and used the sales to raise money for charity.”

When she couldn’t peddle her school friends for money, she would sell her leftover “stock” to her Dad.

My early 20s were a struggle…

Stuck in a draining job and trying to keep up with the fast-paced big city life, Sasha’s wellness reached a low point while living abroad.

“Stress and anxiety was something that I really struggled with when I was living in New York”, says Sasha. “I constantly felt like the worst version of myself and was really unhappy. My skin was terrible and my energy levels were low.”

Sasha says she has her friend Izzy to thank for what happened next…

“When she discovered I was suffering from anxiety, she told me about Ashwagandha – a herb to relax and calm the mind, encourage better sleep and uplift your mood – she was the one who told me to give it a try.”

Ashwagandha root has typically been used in Ayurveda for centuries. The mind-body system, which began in India, is often sought out as a complementary or alternative medicine for those looking to improve their mental health.

Herbs and mushrooms became a way to manage

Growing up in Malaysia, Sasha was familiar with the use of natural plants as a way to heal and embraced Izzy’s suggestion.

“After taking Ashwagandha for a few weeks, I realised that I was coping with stress in a different way, and as a result began taking other adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms.”

From her personal experience, Sasha discovered that some herbs worked better for stress levels (like Ashwagandha), while others were better for energy (like Maca).

“I soon began to see serious changes and improvements within myself and in my skin.”

Following her move back to London, Sasha found that a lot of her friends were experiencing the same stress, anxiety and energy slump she’d experienced in New York, which is when the idea for Glow Bar began to form.

I wanted to launch one product, but I ended up launching three

Having taken multiple herbs and capsules every day for years, Sasha originally wanted to launch just one powerful adaptogen herb blend to beat them all.

“However, after doing some research and discovering that stress affected women in three different ways (inflamed skin, bad mood and lowered sex drive/energy), I decided to launch three really focused blends.”

Using her own knowledge and personal practice as a starting point, Sasha starting mixing herbs at home to determine which ones were best for targeting the aforementioned side-effects of stress.

“My own knowledge really helped me, but I still had to do a lot of research regarding my products. I read almost every scientific and eastern healing book on adaptogen herbs and devoured scientific studies. There were some herbs that research led me to, like, Astragalus – an immune boosting herb – which is in Super Happy.”

Any new herb discovered, Sasha would test individually herself, for an extended period of time, to determine their effectiveness and which blend they belonged in.

I set up shop in my living room

There’s no rule book when it comes to starting your own business. Sasha was studying to be a chef Le Cordon Bleu for 9-12 hours a day, and then coming home to read about herbs and work on her branding at night.

“I soon realised that if I was willing to sacrifice much-needed sleep and mental rest for this brand then it was something I should probably be doing full-time.”

“The day I graduated I officially set up shop in my living room and the rest is pretty much history.”

Glow Bar is still one of the only brands to sell Organic Ashwagandha in a powdered format.

The products I sell helped me for years, and now I get to help other women

Running your own company has to be one of the most stress-inducing jobs to undertake – an irony that isn’t lost on Sasha.

“It is so easy to spend every waking (and sleeping) moment thinking about work and what you could be doing better.”

“I’ve learned to spend some time every day thinking about absolutely nothing – whether it’s on a long walk with my dog or having a long soak in the tub. This time always gives me the mental stamina to keep pushing myself.”

“These products have already helped me for so many years and knowing that they will help other women feel happier and more confident in themselves brings me so much joy – and makes the long nights worth it!”

If you or anyone you know is suffering from stress or anxiety, visit mind.org.uk.