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Leil is a sacred word in Estonian.


That's what we call the steam generated by pouring water onto hot rocks in a sauna. There's no sauna without leil - despite the impression you might get from gym saunas and celebrity infrared saunas around the world!

The word leil is derived from the word for 'breath' or 'spirit' in proto-Uralic, the ancestor to Finnic languages like Estonian and Finnish. It symbolises the very essense of life because the sauna is our traditional place of birth and the sauna experience has long been associated with the concept of rebirth. A well designed sauna, used the right way, and with good leil will enable you to emerge refreshed and rejuvenated.

Similar words once existed in the languages of other peoples too, including English, but were lost to time as their own communal steam bathing traditions were forgotten. The world is now rediscovering what it means to sauna ...but, for too many people, it has become a dry, solitary, and painful experience to be endured, devoid of traditions and without steam and sometimes without even stones.

So we think it's time to teach the world the meaning of leil to help more people celebrate the sauna tradition with us - and enjoy it properly. We want to make leil the first Estonian word to enter English and global common usage.

This is a mission that Anni and Adam have been on for the past few years by introducing the word leil to new communities of saunas enthusiasts around world (including by giving this TEDx Talk about it).


And we need your help to spread the message further.

That's why we’ve printed a dictionary definition of leil so you can share the meaning of leil wherever you go. Feel free to email us any feedback (or pictures of you sharing the meaning of leil!) at

TEDxTallinn October 2021
'The Meaning of Leil'

One more thing.


We strongly believe in the rights of people everywhere to speak their language, practice their culture, and continue to exist. That's at the heart of our own campaign to share the meaning of leil. Our country has long been a champion of cultural and human rights for both fellow Finno-Ugric peoples and indigenous peoples around the world. We wouldn't exist today if others around the world hadn't done the same for us.

With this in mind, we have carefully avoided using any cotton from China due to the ongoing human rights abuses against the Uyghur and other Turkic peoples, which involve the use of forced labour to produce a large proportion of the world's cotton for use in the fashion industry and has been described as a genocide by international governments and human rights organisations. It's the very least we can do.


We're a British-Estonian family business passionate about helping more people enjoy quality saunas. We invest in the best of Estonian sauna design and technology, showcase it at our own saunas, and export it to saunas around the world. Our work has been featured in BBC News, Netflix, The Sun, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Business Insider, & more. You can follow our adventures on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & our blog.

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Estonian Saunas OÜ (EU)

Veskipost 2-1002, Tallinn, 10138, Estonia.
Registry code: 12986006

VAT code: EE101870812

Estonian Saunas Ltd (UK)

Kemp House, 160 City Road, London, EC1V 2NX, UK
Registry code: 13292808

VAT code: GB375652959

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