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Sweat Lodge Deaths: Detoxing to the Extreme?

Sweat Lodge Deaths: Detoxing to the Extreme?

When word hit the newswire that three adults passed away during a five-day “spiritual warrior” retreat intended for “spiritual cleansing,” every bone in my yoga-practicing, spirituality-seeking body cringed. I thought, here’s just another new age-y story gone awry to give all of us yogins a bad name.

I resolved not to lose myself in the idiosyncrasies of stereotypes and instead tried to extract a hopefully useful lesson out of this sad story: cleanses can be dangerous when taken to extremes, or highly beneficial when used in moderation.

We Americans often seek the quick fix–the lose 30 pounds in 30 days mentality. A quick stroll down a health food store aisle easily gives this away, touting all sorts of powders, formulas and pills to help detox our way to greater health. It doesn’t help that these detox diets, fat-free fads and other methods to cleanse the body have been popularized thanks to celebrities, supermodels and nutritionists alike.

In my opinion, quick, commercial fixes to cleanse or detox anything as sensitive as the human body should be seriously scrutinized.

Detox Safely, in Small, Moderate Steps

As my yoga instructor often reminds me, something as simple as small modifications to our diets or minor changes in exercise can naturally create a cleansing affect. And even better, without the risks (yes, even deadly) that come with full-blown fasts, nutritional supplements and rituals. For example:

  • If you find yourself drinking little more than your morning cup of coffee during the day, begin adding in a couple glasses of water. You may notice a feel-good effect that helps flush out impurities and keep you hydrated.
  • If you’re hooked on coffee, try substituting it with tea. Beyond the withdrawal headaches you might find yourself feeling better and less prone to low-energy crashes.
  • Do veggies make it low on your grocery priority list? Start adding in a new vegetable to your diet each week and see how you feel. The dose of fiber might lend to easier elimination–not to mention boost your antioxidant intake.

Cleanse Through Yoga, Naturally

If you have a non-existent exercise routine, begin adding in a simple yoga pose to your day–or a yoga class into your week. Yoga poses, by nature, all contain cleansing qualities, as they help twist, squeeze and extract toxins out from your organs and out of your pores.

The point that needs to be remembered is that, just like how, small, green steps can add up to making a significant dent in the green movement, small steps towards health all add up too! It doesn’t take sitting in a sweat lodge, calorie deprivation or terrible tasting concoctions.

How did you react to the news of the sweat lodge deaths? What implications do you feel it has? Please share below.

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Health, News & Issues, , ,

By Jessica Root, Planet Green

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Megan, selected from Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


+ add your own
4:01AM PDT on Oct 14, 2012

I've never been to a sweat lodge, but I have been in a sauna. After about 15 minutes, you NEED something to drink.

It's so sad about the 3 people who died on that retreat.

3:43PM PST on Jan 15, 2012

Thank you :)

5:48AM PDT on Oct 3, 2011

Thanks for the article.

11:52AM PST on Dec 5, 2009


6:46AM PST on Nov 20, 2009

If they was in the sweat lodge for quite a while, I wouldn't doubt it if they were severely dehydrated. It's important to get enough water and not take things to the extreme.

12:39PM PST on Nov 13, 2009

This website is collecting information from others who have experience with James Ray and JRI.

11:28PM PST on Nov 12, 2009

The point that needs to be remembered is that, just like how, small, green steps can add up to making a significant dent in the green movement, small steps towards health all add up too! It doesn't take sitting in a sweat lodge, calorie deprivation or terrible tasting concoctions.

gifts for men

9:25PM PST on Nov 9, 2009

Confucius say: When greed meets wishful thinking, disaster is sure to follow. (Apologies to Confucius and any Confucians in the house) Actually, I suspect that somewhere along the line, he probably did say something of the sort. But what the Romans said was equally important: Caveat Emptor!

7:32PM PST on Nov 9, 2009

I have to say I have no experience what so ever with a sweat lodge. That being said, people need to take personal responsibility for themselves. I have to imagine these people had to have some hint that there was something wrong before they died...why didn't they leave?? We need to know our bodies well enough that when something is going terribly wrong that we have the sense to not trust our health to a stranger that just took money

8:51AM PST on Nov 9, 2009

I don't know anything about sweat lodges vis a vis American Indians, but I do know that sweating is a natural phenomenon that we all do if we move around. Get outside, enjoy the sunshine and move. You will sweat and rid your body of unwanted toxins. It's a waste of time to sit around in a steam room or sauna in my opinion. However, if you must, I was always told you shouldn't stay in there for more than 15 minutes at a time.

People who pay big money to go to these places like the one where people died in the sweat lodge are just silly. I wish I had so much money and so much time on my hands.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking

Plastic = Yuck!

got stung twice so far this weekend for f sakes lol

Just awesome, but please let me in with you, its cold out here. thank you for caring and sharing.

Totally adorable !!! :D

Wise tips, Thank You


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