You may not know Lindsey Bro, but there's a good chance you know her Instagram account @Cabinlove. Scrolling through her hugely popular—and well curated—feed of rustic cabins and cozy interiors surrounded by brightly colored foliage and panoramic vistas, attentive followers may have noticed an uptick in another type of outdoorsy escape lately: saunas, wood-fired hot-tubs, and other healing rituals rooted in heat. They're Easter eggs to her new hardcover book, THERMAL: Healing with Heat ($30), set to release tomorrow 22 November. Published by Chronicle Books, the attractive coffee table book features more than 150 photos of tubs, pools, hot springs, and more from 50 locations around the globe from Alaska to Turkey, plus info and advice from these locales.
While Bro's Insta may feature cabins at the forefront, the author simultaneously fosters an interest in bath culture and its benefits, both physical and intangible. According to her, the book project was inspired by a similar sense of well-being provided by a weekend cabin trip. In THERMAL, Bro leaves cabins behind to fully indulge that interest, diving deep into so-called bathleisure while exploring the histories, rituals, and health benefits associated with thermal healing worldwide.
Bro visited many of the locations in the book herself, although with a thoughtfulness that permeates the book, she's careful to note she only shared publicly managed locations in order to protect fragile (and secret) spots. In addition to day-dream inducing hot spots and cultural deep dives, simple tips for integrating the healing power of heat, steam, and water into our everyday lives are also sprinkled throughout the pages, making the book a resource that's equally inspiring as it is helpful.
To learn more we recently spoke with Bro to discuss how THERMAL came to be, her own approach to wellness, and where she sees the cabin movement headed next. The following is a snapshot of our insightful conversation.
What inspired you to write a book about saunas, baths, and bath culture?
With @cabinlove the reason why I started that was this love and draw to really small, special places. And really it came down to being drawn to a sense of connection. And as you go deeper and deeper with this stuff, I just realized sauna and bathing and bathhouse culture and all of that–it's all about connection: to ourselves, to our past, to nature, to all of it. That was really interesting to me.
During the pandemic, I was lucky in that I had access to a really wonderful sauna, and I was like, 'Wow, this is really changing my physical state, like why am I feeling so much better on all of these other levels?' I wanted to dive into the question of 'Why do we seek warmth?' When I was researching more and more, you realize that from the beginning of time we've been drawn to these warm places. And across countries and across cultures, whether it's hot springs, or saunas, or bathing, it's everywhere. And it's everyones,' so nobody can claim it. And I think that is beautifully human and beautifully universal and that was the core of what it was.
"You realize that from the beginning of time we've been drawn to these warm places."
What are your three favorite locations featured in THERMAL?
The Bands, Norway
That one is really cool because it was a project by design students who wanted to create something thats for the community, and it's stunning.
Sauna Ranco, Chile
It's just beautiful, it's like the sauna is dipped in honey. It's an interesting balance between austerity and beauty.
Spo Ranch, California
You're sitting around under these 100 year Joshua trees in this forest which looks like Doctor Seuss and you're looking at this sky and sitting in this hot tub and it's so incredibly quiet and still, listening to the ASMR of the fire and smelling this high desert sage. Its extremely immersive.
How did you select the locations that are in the book?
I went through my list and then I reached out to people. I asked friends and I asked people in my community: Where is it that's important to you? And immediately you see something light up inside of them and the thought of getting to share this experience with you because sauna or baths is something that usually is very personal but again, connecting.
A lot of it was general research. Each section has a deep cultural and historical dive into it. And that was both on the actual scientific physical health benefits side and then also the cultural side. So a lot of interviews. The curation process was: 1. Happily experiencing the saunas and 2. Pulling from my past for spots and then asking others.
What are some of the best ways we can integrate the healing properties of heat into our everyday, busy lives?
I think there's so much power in slowing down and in intention and in pause. And it doesn't have to be a big thing. It's in those frequent light touches. A couple minutes a day for slowing down for pausing and breathing or immersing yourself in water. Taking a moment. Shifting it from taking a breath, to giving yourself a breath. Rather than taking time, can we give ourselves time? Of course, go and sit sauna—I think that is one of the most beneficial things you can do on so many levels, from physical to spiritual. I think the world would be a better place if people sat sauna and sat in baths. But it really can be as simple as slowing down, and that ritual of pause. Some days it will be a big indulgent thing, a ritual you did for yourself, and other days it will just be taking your shower, and other days it's sitting in a hot room.
"I've also always had this internal understanding of bowing to nature, it's so much more intelligent than we could ever be."
Since writing the book, has your concept of well-being shifted or changed?
It's grown. It's evolved and it's become more expansive and more inclusive. I have always approached wellness and my life as a very integrated process. I grew up more going to an acupuncturist than a GP. My mom, she's a flight attendant, so I spent most of life traveling to Asia with her and all these different places, and I've always had a deep understanding of holistic health and integrated wellness.
I've also always had this internal understanding of bowing to nature, it's so much more intelligent than we could ever be. I want to tread as lightly as possible and to be in alignment as possible with the natural rhythm of things. The more we can be exposed to anything, the better, because we're going to have more points of reference and more things that can either affirm or refine our understanding.
Since writing this, I do have an even more committed practice to sitting sauna because of the measurable health benefits and what it does, but also those harder-to-grasp and define sorts of things that are more abstract.
How do you think the cabin and sauna movement has changed since starting @cabinlove? Where do you see it headed?
I've seen it become something that is wonderfully more mainstream and common for cabins and for saunas and for springs and peoples desires to go to have these moments of escape and connection. There is a lot more accessibility, of course, and that continuously needs to be discussed and worked on and thought about. Hopefully and ideally it will continue to grow in the right way, which is more about the heart of what it's all about, which is that sense of escape and living a life very much of your choosing, full of this inspiration and spirit of freedom. I hope that it goes that way versus you know, people just going and booking stuff.