Last Saturday I did my first ever sweat lodge. I first heard about sweat lodge's about 5 years ago and was immediately intrigued. In the sweat lodge you face the fire, burning away anything that is no longer serving you. Very similar to the internal fire we build in Ashtanga yoga, in order to also burn away the negative patterns that don't serve us (samsakaras).
It only took 5 years and the organisational skills of a good friend to finally do my first sweatlodge!
The sweat lodge is a native American tradition. I just happened to mention in passing the words "sweat lodge" to Resourceful Jill (you may remember her from the Italy retreat we have since struck up quite a friendship) - I was telling her about a sweat lodge retreat in Bali, where they jumped into a stunning river in between rounds. A week later I am standing knee deep in mud - freezing my butt off in a nightie, in the pouring rain. Do you remember the day that rained and rained and literally did not stop even for 5 mins..... THAT was the day! Not quite the Bali experience but an experience all the same. You know what us Ashtangi's are like - we like it hard core. I swear we must have some serious samsakara's to burn, because we do go for extremes. Others do gentle hatha - not us! Hot, lovely, Bali? Pah! Give me a field in muddy Blighty, a freezing cold day and RAIN - bring it on! I had to hand it to Jill though, within 2 weeks of me mentioning sweat lodge - she'd found one with the most authentic Native American lineage (Mike the leader lived among the Canadian natives for 20 years), booked us on it and there we were. Not only that, but the sweat lodge was in the grounds of Ian Flemings home where he wrote his James Bond novels!?! So even a little glamour amidst the sludge.
The sweat lodge is hand built from branches and twine, then covered in tarpualin that is sealed to the ground. In the centre of the lodge is a pit. A fire is built outside the lodge on top of huge "Grandfather rocks". Various ceremonies and smudging (cleansing) is done around the fire whilst it burns down heating the rocks. This takes about 5 hours and I'm sure on a nice sunny day is very pleasurable! 5 hours later, we finally stripped off (the men are allowed to go bare chested in shorts but we women must dress moderately??? no bra and knickers then! I opted for a nightie over pj bottoms and even then I was worrying about being modest enough!) and huddled (all 28 of us) inside the sweat lodge.
One by one the rocks are brought in. The lodge door is then closed and the sweating begins. I swear it is so dark in there I can not even see my finger in front of my face. I feel very calm and peaceful. Suddenly there is a flash of light and I see the white soles of a pair of feet disappearing out of the lodge. For some reason it reminds me of the white fluffy bottom of a rabbit disappearing down a hole. Alice in Wonderland....? I sense an emptiness beside me and realise Resourceful Jill has fled! How very unlike her.... I begin to feel a little disconcerted...
Each round has 2 songs and there are 4 rounds in total. The day started at 10 am and finished with a feast at 8pm. The rest you shall have to experience for yourself, though I will tell you that our Resourceful Jill DID return to make it through the full remaining 3 rounds.
I took my first yoga class in 1997 and practically fell asleep. Yoga was not for me! Fast forward three years and I go to my first Ashtanga Yoga class. I am blown away. I LOVE it! The only problem is it's a 30 min drive away and I now have a 2 year old son, and no child care at home. Fortunately, my then teacher - the wonderful Alex Medin, lets me bring him along. I wake him up at 5.30am and sling him in the back of the car in his baby blanket. He sits in the corner of the shala looking at books and listening to story tapes, and I practise. We don't manage it every day nor even sometimes every week, but we go when we can. It is not until many years later after the birth of my second son, when both boys are much older and in full time school, that I finally find my daily practise. And many years after that, that I finally get to Mysore.
|Corrie Ananda Yoga||
Blog: Tales from KPJAYI, MYSORE
Private Yoga in London
121 Yoga classes in London
Bespoke yoga classes London
Ashtanga yoga retreats Europe
Ashtanga yoga retreat Ibiza
Ashtanga yoga private classes
Ashtanga yoga London
Which is the best yoga mat to buy?
Mysore Ashtanga Yoga London
Vegan food recipes
©2016 Corrie Preece
All Rights Reserved
KPJAYI Authorized Level 2 teacher
Book private yoga classes London
Book ashtanga yoga retreat in Koufonisi
Send general enquiry
Blog - Tales from KPJAYI, Mysore
Download Primary Series Sheets
Primary with vinyasa count
Primary series memory sheet