Sweat as Prayer, on the Dance Floor, in the Sweat Lodge, in the Yoga Studio

To Sweat is to pray, to make an offering of your innermost self. Sweat is holy water, prayer beads, pearls of liquid that release your past. Sweat is an ancient and universal form of self-healing, whether done in the gym, the sauna, or the sweat lodge. I do it on the dance floor. The more you dance, the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more you pray. The more you pray, the closer you come to ecstasy. ~ Gabrielle Roth

The Season of Rebirth and Renewal

We are in the season of rebirth. Around my home of Los Angeles, the winter rains sent the desert flowers into a super bloom. It has given rise to a huge population of butterflies who are sweeping through the city on a great migration. Spring is the season of Passover, which tells the story of a people’s liberation from slavery, and Easter, which tells a story of reawakening. This season also inspires my dedication to the ways I experience physical and spiritual renewal.

Over the past year, I’ve been rediscovering my passion for “Sweating my Prayers,”which has been a soulful welcome at LA’s Urban Exhale. Urban Exhale is founded by masterful yoga teacher Joe K and his warm-hearted wife Stacey who create and nourish a home away from home. For me, hot yoga is grounding, inspiring, and sparks a visionary creative space and life force. It is a yogic practice of rebirth, in part because it takes me back to the womb-like the experience of a Sweat Lodge.

Joe K from Urban Exhale & Parashakti Photographed by Vanessa Viola

Praying in the Sweat Lodge

I experienced my first Sweat Lodge with Nancy Eagle Spirit Woman at the Naraya – A Native American Ceremony. Even though the tradition was new to me, I felt I was home. After many dances around the medicine wheel, I began to co-facilitate at the Tree of Life in Patagonia, Arizona with Dr. Gabriel Cousens and Keith Starhorse Spirit Dances. As part of the eight day ceremonies, I co-led sunrise and sunset Sweat Lodges.

This was foundational to my Shamanic practice, helping me to find my voice and dance as a healer. In Lakota, the word for Sweat Lodge is Inipi, or “to live again.” The tradition was birthed by Native peoples on the Great Plains and many of those ancient traditions still survive–including ceremonial cleansing, chants, and prayers.

Traditionally, the bones of the Sweat Lodge are made from the branches of willow trees. Sometimes known as the Tree of Love, the willow’s branches are supple, as the willow tree bends without breaking. The lodge is sealed, so that it becomes a hot, damp, light-less, and womb-like experience.

Sweat Lodges traditionally include four rounds of prayer symbolizing the four directions of the Native American Medicine wheel. For each direction, a sacred prayer is chanted, calling in the energy of that direction, including the symbols and power animal associated with it, as more heated rocks are brought into the lodge and the temperature is raised.

Check Your Ego at the Door

I take my hot yoga practice as seriously as I would enter into a Sweat Lodge. Both practices invite you to check your ego at the door, as the ego can make the experience far more painful. In many ways, the yoga mat and going back into the “Mother’s womb” can be confronting.

In my experience, once I surrender and align with my intention and prayer, the sweat is what truly transcends the physical discomfort, connects me to Spirit, and takes me on an illuminated journey. The next layer of spiritual connection is the community around you, practicing alongside you. When we truly show up and commit to a practice that’s when “we become the change we want to see in the world.”

Joe K & Parashakti Photographed by Vanessa Viola. Parshakti is wearing bodysuit by Onzie.

Sweat as Prayers at Urban Exhale and 1440

Join us on Sunday March 31 at Urban Exhale: DETOX + REIKI MOON + SOULHEALING with Joe K, Vanessa, and Parashakti from 12:00pm – 1:30pm

Retreat: Vision Quest 2019 with Joe K and Parashakti from Aug. 30 – Sept. 1, 2019 at 1440 MultiVersity

Discover the fiery lights of your most authentic self through the healing art of yoga and the freedom of dance. The energy of aliveness surrounds us, working to heal, serve, and guide us towards inhabiting our highest, most integrated selves. Tap into that divine energy and open pathways to embodied consciousness and wholeness with a graceful, heart and soul-opening blend of yoga, dance, and shamanic exploration. Ride these metaphorical waves of energy while activating our flow state by integrating mindfulness, pranayama (breath), yoga asanas (postures) with an experience that is both communal and deeply individual, known as Dance of Liberation™.

Dance of Liberation and Yoga

Dance of Liberation™ sheds inhibitions, heightens inner awareness and awakens joy. Founded by Parashakti, and based on a series of shamanic practices known as the Seven Foundations, this powerful soul work will be blended with the masterful instruction of Joe K, whose yoga practice encourages kindness, radiance, health, and an in-depth practice of renewal.

Parashakti is wearing clothing by Onzie in photos by Vanessa Viola.

Practices for Purification at Home

Prayers through Smudging

The power of smudging sage (from the Latin word salvia, to heal) has scientific backing. Scientists have observed that sage smoke can clear up to 94 percent of airborne bacteria.

Create an Intention: What are you releasing?

Make sure to open a window or door when you are smudging to allow negative energy to be released.

Begin your smudging ritual with yourself:

Starting at your head, use a cupped hand to guide the smoke from the top of your body all the way to your feet.

Relax, pay attention to your breath, breathing slowly and evenly as you do this.