Who sweats? Everyone! Sweats are an ancient tradition around the world, spanning many cultures. For example, they're called Stone Baths in Anglo-Saxon traditions, Inipi by the Lakota, Banias in Russia, Hammams in Turkey, Mushi-Buros in Japan, and Sweat Circles here.
What's a Sweat Circle? Generally, a sacred space in which the spirits offer to those who ask and are open whatever is needed for emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual wholeness.
Why Sweat? In many traditions, the benefits of sweats are spiritual, mental, and emotional as well as physical. Physically, sweating is taking a bath from the inside out. Water is required to flush toxins out of cells; it's essential to drink lots of water before and after your sweat. Some pourers prefer that you not drink water during the sweat except between certain rounds; others recommend drinking water throughout. Ask your pourer.
Please bring a water cup/bottle and towel(s) to all sweats, plus any items you'd like to put on the altar.
Water and Food: Avoid dehydrating beverages and foods (that contain alcohol and/or caffeine, e.g., coffee, tea, chocolate, beer, wine, sake) for 24 hours before and after your sweat. Drink extra water and avoid heavy meals for 1–2 hours before; for hypoglycemic people, light meals are usually ok up to ½ hour before.
Timing: be absolutely, positively on time (sorry, no pagan time here). You may want to allow extra time to get to the sweat circle village on time. Please note: if you're between the ages of 15 and 17, your parent/guardian will have to go with you to sign the waiver with you.
Quiet, Please: Approach the sweat circle village quietly and reverently.
Sweat Circle Area: Please enter the immediate area only during your sweat.
Contact Lenses: Some people remove them; some don't. If you have any concerns, it's best to remove them.
Jewelry: You can place jewelry on the altar. Check with the pourer to see what kinds of jewelry it's ok to keep on during the sweat; generally, jewelry that dangles is discouraged..
These are general guidelines; your pourer will provide specifics.
Water and Food: Drink lots of water, and have a mildly salty snack and a banana.
Shower: If you shower after your sweat, it's best not to use soap or shampoo for a day. It's also better not to use the pool, but if you do, please shower first. Do not go in the lake. Trust us on this.
Time and Pace: Move slowly. Take your time. Don't be surprised if you feel the need to be alone, write in your journal, or talk to a trusted friend. You will probably not want to rush off to a workshop. On the other hand, you may feel energized; even if you do, be kind to yourself, start off slowly and tend to your body.
Afterwards: The intensity and depth of many sweats is powerful, and usually wonderful. If you've never experienced such depth, you may feel unnerved, or shut down later. Feel free to come back and seek help from your pourer, a sweat staffer, or from a trusted friend.