Literally meaning the “house of hot stones”— is a ceremony of purification of the body and soul through sweat. It symbolizes our return to the womb of Mother Earth, and we intend to emerge from it reborn.

What Happens During a Sweat Lodge Ceremony?

Sweat lodge ceremonies take place in domed, circular lodges. A fire is lit directly outside the lodge, tended by a highly trained firekeeper who heats the stones that are used in the Sweatlodge.

The firekeeper places the stones in a hole in the center of the lodge, often adding tobacco, cedar, or sweetgrass as an offering. The firekeeper also offers prayers while pouring water over the rocks which creates thick steam.

What’s the Difference Between A Sauna And Sweat Lodge?

Every ceremony is accompanied by ritual drumming and chanting. It goes without saying that sweat lodges get hot—really hot. Most lodges stay at over 100 degrees (F) throughout the ceremony. Don’t worry though, it is possible to easily leave the hut if you’re feeling the need.

Sweat lodges are different from your sauna at the gym in two important ways. First, saunas are all about the heat, while sweat lodges are intensely spiritually focused. Second, while it’s not recommended to stay in a sauna for longer than 20-30 minutes, most sweat lodge ceremonies last over an hour.