The sweat lodge is a Native American tradition
where individuals enter a dome-shaped dwelling to experience a sauna-like environment. The lodge itself is typically a wooden-framed structure made from tree branches. Hot rocks are placed inside an earthen-dug pit located in the center of this man-made enclosure. Water is periodically poured over the heated rocks to create a hot and steamy room. The sweat ceremony is intended as a spiritual reunion with the creator and a respectful connection to the earth itself as much as it is meant for purging toxins out of the physical body.
sweat lodge frame photo © buyenlarge / Getty Images
- Mental Healing - The sweat lodge ceremony gives its participants the opportunity to free their minds of distractions, offering clarity.
- Spiritual Healing - The sweat lodge ceremony offers a place for introspection and connection to the planet and the spirit world.
- Physical Healing - The sweat lodge ceremony gives anti-bacterial and wound-healing benefits. A full Medical Review (pdf) of the health benefits and risks of Native American sweat lodges were published by the Indian Health Service in 1998.
Learn more about Native American healing traditions