This type of sauna is a vapor bath experience where you pour water over hot rocks that have been cooked in an open fire pit. This lodge can be constructed along side of a trail, at a camp ground or in your back yard with basic materials and almost no cost.
The main components are rocks, a strong fire with plenty of firewood, branches two to three inches thick, blankets, tarp and water.
For the past five years I’ve been hosting Sweat Lodges here at ClearPoint with Naturopathic Doctor Joesph Breton. From my experience there is little that compares to the healing and renewal potential that comes from this type of practice. I’m excited to share something so basic and accessible to everyone that also been a fabric of human experience all over the globe for thousands of years.
A good practice is to do four rounds with each round lasting about fifteen minutes. The break offers a good time to walk around and stretch or stay within the lodge.
For some the lodge can be uncomfortable, emotions can surface, the heat can get intense or it may be challenging to sit still for an extended period of time. It is important to pass through feelings of discomfort and allow oneself to feel the constriction. When you do this the flip side is a greater sense of expansion and a release of deeply stored tension and fears.
Ok lets get on to constructing this thing, I outline ten steps below.
Collect your Tools: Twine, Saw, Shovel, Branch Cutter, Axe and Pocket Knife.
Collect 20 branches about 2-3″ thick at the base and 6 to 8′ in length. Clean the branch of limbs and form into a long and flexible pole. If the branch is too old it make break easily when bent. So test them before cleaning.
Tie the ends together with twine. Place one end of the branch on the earth and bend over to form a semi-circles
Keep making your semi-circles and fastening them together with twine at the top of dome with twine. I ended up with ten semi-circles with two rows of branches running across to fasten it up nice and snug.
Dig a hole about six to ten inches into the earth about 20 inches wide. (as seen above) this is where the hot rocks go.
Cover with thick blankets every area but the doorway. (the first night I made the mistake of using light blankets and not have a secure enough doorway, it was a lot colder and more wind than I expected)
Cover with a tarp or two.
Make a door. The door is a tarp folded over with a thick stick at the top. Tie two pieces of twine to each end of stick and run the twine over the top of lodge and fasten into the ground with a stake.
Collect 25 rocks about twice the size of your fist. Make sure the rocks are solid and do not break apart or crumble. You don’t want rocks exploding in your fire or when you pour water on top. Rocks are to be placed into the fire and cooked for two hours.
When you are ready to start the sauna bring a large bucket of water into the lodge. Start with six to eight rocks, when you pull them out of the fire make sure to brush them off, you don’t want to much ash or ember to come inside the lodge as this will cause smoke. Pour water liberally upon the rocks and let the fun begin.
Here’s my wife Shannon and I introducing a small amount of steam to our children. They though it was magic.
For an extensive resource for the history and practice of sweating go here: http://www.cyberbohemia.com/Pages/sweat.htm