Native American Sweat Lodge

What Is A Native American Sweat Lodge?

native-american sweat lodge
••• This is the frame of a traditional Native-American sweat lodge. Marilyn Angel Wynn/Getty Images

A Native-American sweat lodge is a ceremonial sweat bath that typically has its roots in Native-American history and culture. Traditionally, it is a purifying ritual that uses intense heat to stimulate vision and insight. A sweat lodge ceremony helps detoxify the body by stimulating blood circulation and causing you to sweat out impurities. You are typically naked or wrapped in a towel.

A traditional Native American sweat lodge is dome-shaped and circular, and built low to the ground.

Rocks are heated up in a fire outside the lodge, then brought into the center of the lodge with a shovel and placed in a dug pit. More rocks are brought in, traditionally in four rounds, and the Indian sweat lodge gets progressively hotter.

The person in charge of the ceremony "pours the water" and is responsible for the health and well-being of participants. Typically there are 8 to 12, but there can be as many as a few dozen. Find out how to stay safe in the sweat lodge.

Pouring water on the rocks creates steam, which makes the Native American sweat lodge feel even hotter. Sweatgrass or sage is scattered on the rocks. You might be smudged with sage smoke before entering the Indian sweat lodge, to aid with the ritual purification. It is usual to offer up prayers, share your thoughts with others, and ask for the release of pain and suffering.

The traditional Native American sweat lodge is not found at spas.

 From September through June, Canyon Ranch Tucson offers The Spirit Lodge, a powerful, three-part spiritual experience that draws upon and honors rich, ancient traditions that promote spiritual and personal growth as well as physical well-being.  It starts with a fifty minute talk, is followed by a three-hour Spirit Lodge ceremony.