Sweat lodges are heated dome-shaped structures used by Indigenous peoples during certain purification rites and as a way to promote healthy living. The intense heat generated — often by steam created from pouring water onto heated rocks — is meant to encourage a sweating out of toxins and negative energy that create disorder and imbalance in life. In this way, the sweat lodge ceremony cleanses the body, mind and soul.
Each sweat lodge is slightly different, depending on the community or person who operates it, and the purpose for which it is used. For example, some sweat lodge ceremonies are restricted to men, women, children or members of certain clans; at other times, the lodge is open to all. There are also sweats specific to fasting rituals, or in celebration of the Sun Dance and other cultural traditions.