Native American Indian Spa Treatments


Finding your “purpose in life”

Purpose in lifeLong before the white man set foot on American soil the Native Americans, had been living in America. When the Europeans came here, there were probably about 10 million Native Americans populating the United States. They had been living in the US for quite some time. It is believed that the first Native Americans arrived during the last ice-age, approximately 20,000 – 30,000 years ago through a land-bridge across the Bering Sound, from northeastern Siberia into Alaska. The oldest documented Indian cultures in North America are Sandia (15000 BC), Clovis (12000 BC) and Folsom (8000 BC).

Growing up in Commack, Long Island, New York, I was very aware of the Native American culture.  The name Commack comes from the Secatogue Indians who lived on the south shore between Copiague and Bayport. They named their northern lands in the center of the island Winnecomac meaning “Pleasant lands.” This is what they must have thought when they looked over this area of flatlands with rich soil, and thick oak forests abounding with plants and wildlife. From the earliest days, Commack was known for its fertile soil, the abundance of game, and wood.  At the end of my street, was a farm that grew potatoes, corn, tomatoes, lettuce, and several other crops.  Commack at that time instilled a respect for nature, the Native American heritage and the understanding of traditions and philosophies that are applied in some spas today.

Many Native American cultures believe that each of us is here for a specific reason. While finding your life purpose, you must strive to be the best possible for you, and each of your actions is done to benefit the environment and people around you. In this spirit, Native American spa treatments, using elements such as heat, stones, water, herbs, aloe, and corn, naturally reconnect you, physically and emotionally, with yourself. Most spas that feature these services have consulted with a Native American expert to create treatments that honor traditions, including the use of indigenous materials and sustainable agriculture practices that have been deeply rooted in Native American Indian life for thousands of years. These timeless natural treatments are a path to inner and outer beauty.

The word centered is at the heart of Native American spa therapies: Spa treatments that incorporate these Native American rituals are intended to enhance introspection, to purify mind, body, and spirit. When you’re centered, you have a clearer sense of purpose and you can accomplish more.  This week’s Spavelous Spa Magazine Now You Are In The Know will look at the Native American Culture and how spas have incorporated the essence of these traditions in their Native American Indian Spa Treatments.

Native American Folk-Lore … Herbs & Botanicals

Nature healingsBecause of Native Americans’ intimate relationship with nature, many therapies emphasize plants’ mind-body-spirit healing potential.  Native-American herbalism is much more complex than herbs merely serving as a plant matrix to deliver physiologically active chemicals.

Native American healers believe that:

  • Plant components affect bodily functions and bioavailability, the entire remedy is considered the active agent.
  • Plants possess spirit and intelligence, they are consulted to determine their best healing relationship with patients, and permission is obtained before and gratitude expressed after harvesting them.
  • Harvesting herbs is an intricate procedure and factors such as plant part (e.g., flower, stem, root, etc), time or season of harvesting, sun exposure, and much more obscure factors need to be considered.
  • Native herbalists use plants that appear in dreams, a form of communication by which the plant’s spirit can guide the healer.
  • The plant’s healing potential is empowered by ritual ceremony, prayer, song, or chants. This is because herbs can treat symptoms, but to reach the deeper causes of the illness  a combination of methods must be used.

Benefits and uses of Native Herbs and Botanicals:

Aloe vera is indigenous to the Southwest, and Native Americans who lived there used the plant in the same ways it’s used today–as first aid for the skin. Aloe is antiseptic, so it heals as it soothes, and it’s very hydrating.  Southwestern Native Americans called aloe “the wand of heaven” and used it to heal desert sunburns and to treat bug and scorpion bites.


A sacred element in Native American culture, cedar is used to both cleanse and heal. Cedar is sprinkled on hot rocks to allow its power to be released with the steam. Cedar is considered an herb of the sun; its element is fire and is often burned during winter rituals. Cedar purifies an area and banishes nightmares. Native Americans sometimes burn cedar in sweat lodges to help release heavy emotional energy. It is also used in child blessings and naming ceremonies.

For the Native Indians who roamed the North American plains, the chokecherry provided vitamins and a sweet-tart flavor. These luscious purple berries were harvested, along with other fruit, in midsummer to fall and stored in a partly dried or frozen state. Chokecherries mixed with fat and suet and pounded into the meat of buffalo became pemmican, a staple food eaten by Native Indians during journeys and long winters. Today the chokecherry fruit is used to make jam and syrup prized as a gourmet treat. Chokecherry bushes still grow wild in prairie ravines and remain one of the most important plants for
wildlife food and shelter.

Native Americans used corn for a myriad of purposes, including exfoliation. They rubbed ground corn on their skin before ceremonies, to rid the body of impurities. But their skin benefited in other ways. Not only does it remove dead skin cells, but it also leaves behind minerals and vitamins that help the skin.

Juniper creates an environment that is safe and sacred. The burning juniper berries purify the air in sick rooms and prevent the spread of infection.

Sweet-smelling lavender is sometimes called ‘Breath of the Spirit world’. Lavender soothes and calms the nerves and stimulates the healing process. The fragrance of lavender imparts a feeling of inner freedom that allows one to let go of compulsions, anger and other bad habits of the mind. Sometimes the lavender buds are burned to induce sleep and rest and can be scattered around the home to maintain a feeling of peacefulness.

Mint is used to stimulate joy, virtue, and endurance.

Mugwort is a symbol of health and hope. Native Americans use the leaves of the mugwort medicinally to treat colds, colic, bronchitis, rheumatism, and fever.

Osha the most widely used herbal medicine in the southwest. Elders have always like to receive Osha as a gift. Associated with good luck and protection. Used to treat coughs and colds. One of the most important herbs of the Rocky Mountain region.   Caution:  Do not use during pregnancy or if breastfeeding.

Pinon gathered in large quantities by the Navajo and Zuni. Pinon salve is used to treat sores and cuts.  Many ceremonies include the use of the pinon, especially the War Dance ceremony.

Used as an herb of purification. Purity, health; used for consecration in Native American tradition. Sage is a necessary part of every Native American sacred ceremony. Take a spring of Sage to your new home, to chase out old, out-used energies, and purify the Sacred Space in which you will be starting married life! Sage is particularly important in the Sun Dance because the dancers chew it to alleviate their thirst. Sage is included in medicine pouches and bundles and is burned in smudging ceremonies to drive out bad spirits, feelings or influences.

Grows in the plains areas of the US. It smells sweet when dried, and is traditionally braided together in long strands for storage or use. Sweetgrass can be burnt as a purifier similar to sage. It encourages positive vibrations to enter an area or room. It is also used in sweat lodges. Clippings are placed on hot rocks during the sweat. The smoke of sweetgrass is pleasant to the good spirits. They come to the smoke. They are pleased with one who makes this smoke. But the bad spirits also enjoy the smoke, so sage must be burned to make them sick, then sweetgrass to bring good spirits.

The legends and lore surrounding Thyme are manifold. It was one of the first herbs to be used as incense and was often sprinkled on church floors, along with lavender, in the middle ages, to eliminate unwanted odors. Some believe the word Thyme, is derived from the Greek word for Courage, and some think it is connected to the idea of cleansing or fumigating. It has been associated, in ancient lore, with both death and death ceremonies, and yet was also thought to have an ability to attract fairies. Like Sage, it has been burned in many places throughout time to cleanse the air, protect from the plague, and ward off evil spirits. Avoid if pregnant.

Ceremonially, tobacco is smoked as a means of communication with the spirits. It is said that the ancestors remember the pleasure of smoking the leaves and the dried blossoms, so they return to partake in the essence of the tobacco.

Cleansing and Clearing

Cleansing and ClearingFrom ancient traditions, herbs and plants are used to perform the sacred smoke blessing. It is a ritual of cleansing and purification for the physical and spiritual bodies. Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred herbs and plants to drive away negative energies and to restore balance.

Smudging is used to cleanse and balance the auric energies of people and used to clear space energy within home and work environments. Smudging is also used to cleanse and remove negative energies from crystals, gemstones and other natural and healing objects.

Originally, native traditions used mixtures of sacred herbs and resins burned in a special bowl or shell. Smudging sticks are now available, which are made from dried plants and herbs tied in a small bundle. Smudging is viewed as a way of shifting between the levels of the material, physical, and spiritual realms. There are many methods of smudging. The most common method is by lighting the herb or plant, extinguishing the flame, and wafting the rising smoke around the person, area or object, while sending out a prayer or blessing.

Herbs most often used in smudging are sage and sweetgrass. Sage drives out negative thoughts, energies, spirits, and influences. Sweetgrass is used to attract positive energies after the negative energies are banished.

The herbs are burnt on their own or in mixtures, depending on tradition and required effect. Here are some other herbs and plants that may be used in smudging along with their spiritual properties:

This plant can also be used to purify, especially for negative emotions. Cedar needles are also used to cleanse and bring balance to the emotions and to the male/female (yin/yang) elements. To clear one’s actions and to promote forgiveness.

This resin was used by the Mayans as food for the Gods. They believe that as the smoke of the Copal would rise, it would carry their prayers to the ears of the Gods. Copal is used in divination and in purification ceremonies. Copal is the Frankincense of the Western Hemisphere.

Desert Sage
This plant will drive out negative energies, spirits, and influences. Use this as a smudge to purify people and places before any sacred ceremony. The powerful cleansing vibration it emits when burned is used to purify the subtle energies of one”s aura, as well as personal and ceremonial space or healing and ceremonial tools, such as pipes and crystals, and cards.

This herb is also used to purify and to create a safe and sacred space. Juniper was often carried in a medicine pouch or a pocket for protection.

This herb will restore balance and create a peaceful atmosphere. It will also draw loving energy and spirits. Lavender flowers can be added to the mixture to bring the quality of spiritual blessing.

This herb can be used to stimulate psychic awareness and prophetic dreams. The Lakota also believes that when Mugwort is burned it “makes the bad spirits sick”, and they move away from it.


This is one of the most sacred herbs used for smudging. This herb is used to bring positive energy in after negative energies are banished by using sage.   Sweetgrass, which comes from the northern swamps, is dried and braided into fragrant-smelling plaits.  It may be added to the mixture of herbs burned, but it is often burned alone after the sage or smudge mixture has been used. Sweetgrass brings sweetness and beauty into one’s life and surroundings. One can offer a prayer to this effect as the braid is lit.

The root of this plant can be burned as an incense or carried for good luck and protection from bad influences. Osha is also a preferred gift for Native American elders.

White Sage
This sage is used just like desert sage, but many people prefer White Sage because of the sweeter aroma it gives off.

Yerba Santa
This herb can be used to purify and to set and protect boundaries. The name of this plant reflects its nature. Yerba Santa means sacred herb.

Smudging Ceremony For Cleansing The Energy

SmudgingThe process of smudging involves placing the individual herb or mixture of herbs into a shell, or fireproof bowl or dish. The mixture can burn quite hot so it is important that whatever is used can take the heat without cracking. Some traditions will not use shells as they say the water element of the shell nullifies the fire element. Others use the shell to bring in the balance of the elements (i.e. fire, smoke or air, shell for water and the herbs themselves as the earth element.)

The mixture is lit and helped to burn by the use of a feather or fan. Blowing into the mixture is not encouraged as it is seen as blowing one’s own negativity into the mixture. The mixture is then wafted around one’s self like a smoke bath. There are different ways of doing this and one finds a variety of techniques and explanations depending on traditions and teachings. The way for someone not attached to a particular tradition is a matter of personal preference and intuition.

One way would be to start at the left foot (left being the receiving side of the body) and to move the smoke up the left leg with the use of the fan or feather. Proceed up the central chakra line and around the top of the head, back down the center of the body, moving the smoke outwards to the sides and around the back. Finish off by wafting the smoke down the right leg (right being the giving side of the body) and out and away from the right foot. Some native traditions would do this four times, as four is the number of balance and harmony.

To cleanse a room or house, carry in the lit smudge stick, clockwise around the area, making sure to smudge in the corners and behind doors and out the door.

Feathers and wing fans aid in the cleansing process and have the effect of combing the human aura, therefore adding to the cleansing. Particular feathers bring in the qualities and medicine of the bird of origin. Some would insist that the movement of the fan should be in keeping with the movement of the particular bird’s wing in flight.

Cleansing ceremonial or ritual space before and after the event is an essential part of spiritual hygiene. The initial smudging is for the purpose of purifying the space and participants and for banishing any unwanted energies. The final smudge is to clean any negative vibrations and energies attracted or created during the proceedings. It is also a good thing to do on a regular basis for both one’s self and one’s living space, to maintain individual and domestic harmony.

Healers, massage therapists and others involved in similar occupations should use this or similar cleansing techniques in their treatment rooms and for themselves, both before and after treatments.

A good practice for healing is to smudge the space, the people in the space, including one’s self, the client and any tools, such as crystals or stones. When the healing is completed, smudge self, any assistants, tools, client and finish with space. In this way, one deals with negative energies and vibrations in much the same way as antiseptic and disinfectant deals with germs. All healers should smudge between clients to prevent the transfer of pathogenic energy.

In addition to clearing the rooms between treatments, Spas also tap into the spiritual benefits of smudging in a practical way.  Spas incorporate these herbs in body wraps, so you can experience their aromatherapy attributes as well as the clearing.

Spirit Connection

 A major difference between Native-American and conventional medicine concerns the role of spirit and connection. Although spirituality has been a key component of healing through most of mankind’s history, modern medicine eschews it, embracing a mechanistic view of the body fixable pursuant to the physical laws of science.

Native American Medicine

Native-American medicine considers spirit, whose life-force manifestation in humans is called, ni by the Lakota and nilch’i by the Navajo, as an inseparable element of healing. Not only is the client’s spirit important but the spirit of the healer, the client’s family, community, environment, and the medicine.

In addition to these overarching philosophical differences, there are many other properties that distinguish Native-American from Western medicine. In Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing summarizes some of them:



Focus on pathology & curing disease.

Focus on health & healing the person & community.

Reductionistic: Diseases are biological, & treatment should produce measurable outcomes.

Complex: Diseases do not have a simple explanation, & outcomes are not always measurable.

Adversarial medicine: “How can I destroy the disease?”

Teleological medicine: “What can the disease teach the patient? Is there a message or story in the disease?”

Investigate disease with a “divide-and-conquer” strategy, looking for the microscopic cause.

Looks at the “big picture”: the causes & effects of the disease in the physical, emotional, environmental, social, & spiritual realms.

Intellect is primary. Medical practice is based on scientific theory.

Intuition is primary. Healing is based on spiritual truths learned from, nature, elders, & spiritual vision.

The physician is an authority.

The healer is a health counselor & advisor.

Fosters dependence on medication, technology, etc.

Empowers patients with confidence, awareness, & tools to help them take charge of their own health.

Health history focuses on patient & family: “Did your mother have cancer?”

Health history includes the environment: “Are the salmon in your rivers ill?”

Intervention should result in a rapid cure or management of the disease.

Intervention should result in a rapid cure or management of the disease.

Healing Power of the Circle

The Universal Circle, a symbol of balance and harmony, is included in every aspect of the Native American way of life. In many Native American traditions, to “offer prayers” means calling out to the four winds for their sacred powers, since the four winds offer lessons from the four directions that make up the Universal Circle.

The circle

The Circle

Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.

The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.

The life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.

Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and they were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.

Black Elk, Oglala Sioux, 1863 – 1950

Healing Power of the Circle

The Circle has healing power. In the Circle, we are all equal. When in the Circle, no one is in front of you and no one is behind you. No one is above you. No one is below you. The Sacred Circle is designed to create unity.

The Hoop of Life is also a circle. On this hoop, there is a place for every species, every race, every tree, and every plant.

It is this completeness of Life that must be respected in order to bring about health on this planet.

To understand each other, like the ripples when a stone is tossed into the waters, the Circle starts small and grows…until it fills the whole lake.

Dave Chief, Oglala Lakota,
Grandson of Red Dog of Crazy Horse’s Band

In the Native American tradition of the medicine wheel, the Sacred Directions of East, South, West, and North are recognized. Each direction is connected with the Sacred Elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The sacred directions and elements also provide powers and lessons for the path attributes they are associated with.


Element:  Air
Represents: Air Elements, Vibrations, Scents, Wind, Sky, Clouds
Season: Spring
Time:   Dawn
Color:   Yellow
Angel:   Raphael
Totems: Wolf, Hawk, Eagle, Deer, Raccoon, Cardinals
Power:    Mind, Intellect, Breath, Music
Lessons: Rebirth, Renewal, Clarity, Transition, Movement, Expansion
Thought: “The mind is awareness, perception, focus and illumination”


Element: Fire
Represents: Fire Elements, Sun, Transmutation, Passion, Relation
Season: Summer
Time: Noon
Color: Red
Angel: Michael
Totems: Hawk, Badger, Coyote, Fox
Lessons: Purification, Healing, Abundance, Protection, Change,
Thought: “In innocence, faith, strength, and protection I am”


Element: Water
Represents: Water Elements, Moon, Feelings, Emotions
Season:   Fall
Time:   Dusk
Color:     Blue
Angel: Gabriel
Totems: Bear, Raven, Elk, Jaguar, Heron
Lessons: Cleansing, Letting Go, Purification, Reflection, Balance
Thought:   “Inner knowing, feelings, healing and light are all part of me”


Element: Earth
Represents: Earth Elements, Foundations, Grounding
Season: Winter
Time: Midnight
Color: White
Angel: Ariel
Totems: Buffalo, Wolf, Owl, Heron, Dragon and Mythical Beasts
Lessons: Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Completion of cycles
Thought:  “Through patience & ceremony, I seek knowledge & wisdom “The Four

Cherokee Four Sacred Directions in the Universal Circle of Life

Each represents a specific color, direction, attribute of learning focus, and path to follow.

This clockwise circle represents the spiral of life, with the directional energy that influences it. The Center is for the Creator and the Four Directions of the Universal Circle. The Four Directions provide guidance in understanding our behaviors and directions. The Directions provide us balance and we must find harmony in relationship to all that exists in our environment.

The Four Directions also connect us with the spirit of the animals and birds as our brothers and sisters in the Universal Circle. In traditional teachings, the circle represents omnipresent energy that exists in the universe – which is, the never-ending Circle of Life.

EAST Color – Red  Direction – Spiritual Path of Sun
SOUTH Color  – White Direction – Natural Path of Peace
WEST Color – Black Direction – Physical  Path of Introspect
NORTH Color – Blue Direction – Mental Path of Quiet

Some spas are incorporating these into treatments such as the Four Directions Body Treatment at the Sagestone Spa at Red Mountain.

Sweat Lodges

The Native American Indian sweat lodges have been used for thousands of years and are still popular with many health retreats and self-awareness programs today.  Native Americans use sweating for two means: first to cleanse their skin; secondly to purge their bodies.  In addition, with the assistance of Medicine Men and Women, Sweat Lodges are believed to repair the damage done to the spirits, the minds and the bodies and as a means to express gratitude to the Creator and give thanks for a personal gift of rebirth.

The Sweat Lodge is a place of spiritual refuge and mental and physical healing, a place to get answers and guidance by asking spiritual entities, totem helpers, the Creator and Mother Earth for the needed wisdom and power.

A traditional Sweat Lodge is a wickiup made up of slender withes of aspen or willow, or other supple saplings, lashed together with rawhide, or grass or root cordage, although in some areas the lodge was constructed of whatever materials were at hand, from a mud roofed pit house to a cedar bark and plank lodge. The ends of the withes are set into the ground in a circle, approximately 10 feet in diameter, although there is no set size for a Sweat Lodge. That is determined by the location, materials available and the builder. The withes are bent over and lashed to form a low domed framework approximately 4 – 5 feet high at the center. The pit in the center is about 2 feet in diameter and a foot deep. The floor of the lodge may be clean-swept dirt, or natural grassy turf, or may be covered with a mat of sweetgrass, soft cedar boughs, or sage leaves for comfort and cleanliness, kept away from the central pit.

Sweat Lodges

In many traditions, the entrance to the sweat lodge faces to the East and the sacred fire pit. This has a very significant spiritual value. Each new day for all begins in the East with the rising of Father Sun, the source of life and power, the dawn of wisdom, while the fire heating the rocks is the undying light of the world, eternity, and it is a new spiritual beginning day that we seek in the sweat ceremony.

Common to all traditions, and sweat is the ideal of spiritual cleanliness. Many sweats start with the participants fasting for an entire day of contemplation in preparation for the sweat while avoiding caffeine, alcohol and other unhealthy substances. Prior to entering the sweat the participants usually smudge with sage, sweetgrass or cedar smoke as a means toward ritual cleanliness.

A Sweat Ceremony in many traditions usually starts with the loading and offering of the sacred chanunpa ~ “peace-pipe” ~ in prayer, that the participants may know and speak the truth in their supplications of Grandfather, Earth Mother, and the spirits. In other traditions, when you are called upon to go into the sweat lodge you will have some tobacco to offer to the sacred fire, saying a prayer or asking a question, the smoke from the tobacco carrying your request to the Great Spirit. As you prepare to enter the lodge the sweat leader smudges you with the smoke of burning sage, cedar, or sweetgrass, wafting the smoke over you with an eagle feather. You then crawl into the lodge in a sun-wise (clockwise) direction, bowing in humility to Great Spirit and in close contact with Earth Mother, and take your place in the circle, sitting cross-legged upright against the wall of the lodge.

There are many different forms of sweat ceremonies in Native American Indian country. Each people has their own tradition and this is especially clear when it comes to the sweat lodge ceremony. Many differences, depending on the people participating, occur during each ritual. For instance, many times rounds are held in complete silence and meditation as the participants feel the need. At other less intense times, a round may be devoted to storytelling and recounting of the clan’s creation stories. This is all part of spiritual and emotional healing and growth. Respect, sincerity, humility, the ability to listen and slow down are all key to the way you approach ceremony.

The most popular type of North American sweat baths is the hot rock method which involves creating either a temporary or a permanent domed structure made from branches and mud and covered with blankets or skins.  A hole is then dug near the door, which always faces east.  This hole is filled with rocks, which are heated outside and brought. Steam is then produced by sprinkling the rocks with water.  Another type involves using fire instead of hot rocks.  Sweat lodges have great spiritual significance to the American Indians.  The Sioux, for example, see the interior of the sweat lodge as representing the womb of Mother Earth and the steam as the creative force of the universe being activated.

Some spas offer actual sweat lodges, while others interpret the benefits of heat with hot mud wraps, tub soaks, or hot stone therapies including foot massage.

Skaná, The Spa at Turning Stone borrowed from the past and will help you to renew your spirit in an interpretive American Indian sweat lodge ceremony. Skaná is proud to be one of the few spas in the world to offer an authentic sweat lodge experience. Built by the Oneida Indian Nation with the Oglala and Lakota Sioux tribes of South Dakota, buffalo hides drape the red willow foundation and lead to a memorable experience.

Turning Stone’s three-hour sweat lodge experience features interpretative storytelling, drumming, chants, and prayers.

The Beat Goes On … Prayer, Chants, and Music

Chants and MusicPrayer is pervasive in Native-American healing as prayer can affect health. Native-American prayer concentrates the mind on healing, promotes health-enhancing emotions and feelings, and connects people to sacred healing forces. In contrast to more familiar whispered prayers, Native Americans robustly proclaim, chant, or sing prayers. Singing is often accompanied by drumming or rattles, which, by synchronizing group consciousness, greatly magnifies the healing impact.

This Healing drum circle empowers their spirits and heals their hearts. They are transforming themselves in the deepest way: without speaking, through music and rhythm. They leave refreshed, re-inspired, and re-connected.

“Sound” is within the very definition of health. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, health is “being sound in mind and body.” Other expressions, such as being at a “higher vibration” and being “in tune” also indicate the role of music and sound in healing and wellness. The drum offers a vibrational tuning, mirroring what is inside our hearts, a rhythm that has been within us since our birth. Perhaps this is where the start of the expression marching to the beat of a different drum.

Drum circles are becoming more popular throughout the nation, providing benefits like music therapy and friendship.  Therapists use drumming to help patients reduces stress-related hormones and enhance immune system responses.  The word “recreation” comes from the Latin word recreation which means “restoration of health.” Recreational drumming can happen in communities, businesses, schools, or among friends.  If you’re looking for a great way to relieve stress, be creative, and improve health in general, find out where the closest drum circle meets.

And the process of group drumming is quite possibly the next big method of creative fitness for stress reduction. There is healing value in playing music, expressing oneself rhythmically, and connecting with others. In fact, in a controlled study of 111 normal subjects, just one hour of group drumming showed a significant increase in circulating white blood cells and two specific cytokines, markers of cellular immune function.  Drumming successfully boosted the immune system.

According to a study published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, drumming helps increase the number of subjects’ natural killer cells, which fight virus infections and boost the immune system.

Another study done on “burned-out” UCLA college students found that one week of group drumming dramatically reduced stress levels and improved mood states

For centuries, drumming has been valued as a tool for personal and community well-being. Shaman, healers in many cultures, rode the rhythms of their drums to the invisible worlds to bring back antidotes and totems for healing. The doctor and drummer were one and the same. Modern-day shamans called music therapists continue to lead their patients on vision quests of musical expression to their own inner healing resources. Used in this way, drumming is not so much a cure as it is a preventative measure, a vehicle of life-enhancement, spirituality, and empowerment.

Making music is becoming an integral part of the wellness movement, not as entertainment, but as a tool for healing, self-expression, and connection. Today, drum circles can be found in community centers, music stores, churches, festivals, and local parks and spas.

Therapeutic Touch & Energy Work

 Touch and Energy workNative-American medicine includes many approaches with similarities to today’s alternative bodywork or energy-related techniques, including massage, therapeutic touch, and acupressure-like stimulation of body points.

All peoples have methods for hands-on therapy, what we now call bodywork. The Cherokee people were well versed in body therapies and energy healing. They developed a comprehensive, sophisticated bodywork system that encompassed a form of osteopathic massage and manipulation, breath, and energy work. Central to this technique is the alternation of deep pressure and gentle rocking release. The breath was also used to reanimate the body and “draw spirit” into affected tissues. They also used crystal scanning and healing as well as the channeling of spirits and energy medicine.

The Cherokee was also familiar with acupuncture meridians and used acupuncture, with needles made of thorns or porcupine quills, in healing. A nineteenth-century monograph, the Swimmer manuscript in the Smithsonian Institute, speaks to the use of acupuncture by the “primitive savages when every civilized person would know that the proper treatment is bleeding with leeches.”

In his book on Native American medicine, Ken Cohen, who worked with a Cherokee mentor, noted, “Massage, healing touch, and noncontact healing are practiced by Native healers throughout North and South America. Often the hands are used to sweep away or remove spiritual intrusions or to brush in healing powers. Cherokees warm their hands over coals and circle their palms either on or above an affected area. Some healers hold their hands to the front and back of an affected area, creating what they now call ‘electrodes within the body.’ The healer imagines that electricity is moving from one hand to the other. Sometimes the muscles are rubbed in a manner similar to Western massage. To increase the healing effect, the medicine person massages specific therapeutic points.”

The Hopi people and their practices were the source of inspiration for a type of massage now called Hakomi. Native American practices, in which hot and cold stones are used to deeply penetrate muscles and tissues to reduce pain and inflammation, are what we now know as stone massage. All of these practices integrate physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of a person.

Hopi Ear Candles

Hopi ear candles are named after the Native American tribe who first introduced this gentle therapy to the West.  The Hopi nation is renowned for its extensive knowledge of healing and their spiritual lifestyle. The translation of the word Hopi means “peaceful ones”.

Ear candles are used widely throughout North America and Asia and although the current treatment has come to us from the Hopi tribe, the use of ear candles to treat ear problems has been known for centuries, having been used by the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks.

The Hopi ear candle is not a candle as such, but a hollow tube made out of cotton flax and they are coated with beeswax and honey, infused with Chamomile, Sage and St John’s Wort. The lit candle is placed into the ear and as it burns, the ingredients blend together to form a vapor that travels down the candle and along the ear canal. The candle works like a chimney with a light suction action and draws any impurities to the surface where they are removed. As the candles burns, it gently massages the ear canal stimulating the blood and lymph circulation in the surrounding area. It vibrates gently on the eardrum, like a tuning fork and regulates the pressure of the inner ear. The vapor leaves behind golden-colored particles of dust (gold dust) which acts as a natural skincare moisturizer helping to balance the ear canal. It’s good for both dry, itchy ears and oily ears.

The Treatment

The treatment itself involves you lying on the massage table fully clothed. Both ears are treated every time to ensure the balance is maintained.  The treatment is very gentle and relaxing and may take up to an hour, depending on the condition being treated.

The Hopi Ear Candle is placed over the ear orifice and ignited. It is only allowed to burn to within 4 inches of the end of the candle. As it burns it produces a gentle local heat. The warm air combined with the oil and herbs soften the wax and draw it into the base of the candle. The candle is then removed and the ear and surrounding area are then massaged. The treatment is repeated on the other ear and then a complete facial massage is carried out, paying particular attention to the sinus areas.

Hopi Ear Candle therapy makes use of the simple laws of science. When the candle is inserted into the ear and lit the flame creates a vacuum drawing wax, Candida, yeast, and other debris from the ear canal into the hollow candle. This vacuum is caused by the warmed air from the flame and colder air moving through its hollow center. The movement and compression between the ear canal and the candle chamber generate air flow acting like a chimney. It is this that generates the “sucking” action.

The burning action infuses the herbs and essential oils into a vapor, which is drawn into the auditory canal. This performs a massaging function as well as softening any impurities. Many clients report a state of complete mental, physical and emotional relaxation, sometimes even falling asleep. Many often comment on feeling a soothing, liberating, light sensation in the ear and head areas.Hopi Ear Candles

It also stimulates energy points and reflex zones. The high energy light from the flame penetrates through the candle tunnel, transporting a vital spectral frequency inward to important energy centers. The cleansing fire carries negative vibrations away from the metabolic energy fields and harmonizes the energy status. As well as offering real and marked benefits in a non-invasive manner for many ear, nose and throat problems, an ear candle treatment is a deeply relaxing, calming and soothing experience.

After the candle has been extinguished an auricular massage is applied with a blend of oils. To stiffen the flax, they are impregnated with extract of honey and herb oils (in particular chamomile, sage, and St Johns wort), the healing properties that have been known to the Hopi tribe for hundreds of years…

Benefits of Hopi Ear Candles

Hopi Ear Candles are reported to help with the treatment of sinusitis, rhinitis, earwax, earache, and irritation of the ears including tinnitus. It is also suitable for the treatment of:

  • Reduction of inner ear irritation
  • Relief from colds, influenza, headaches, migraines, etc
  • Improves the lymph system and metabolism
  • Stimulates blood/energy circulation
  • Provides a soothing, light sensation around the ear and head area
  • Reduces any ear pain experienced when flying/diving
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Invigorates the immune system
  • Provides a deep and lasting sense of mental, physical and emotional relaxation
  • Reduces Congestion
  • Relieves the effects of stress
  • Stimulates important acupuncture points and reflex zones

It is not suitable for those with perforated eardrums, where grommets are in place or those who may have an allergy to the ingredients.  If you have any questions ask your doctor.

Native American Inspired Spa Treatments:

JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa
3800 W.Starr Pass Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85745

Starr Pass Resort and Spa

For centuries, the people who have called the Tucson Mountains home have found healing in the sights, sounds, and scents of the lush Sonoran Desert. Inspired by these healing properties and named for the revered Saguaro cactus, call Hashani by the indigenous people of the region, Hashani Spa offers treatments that combine the latest beauty and health technology with ancient healing techniques and traditions in a luxurious, pampering environment.

Outdoors, along the Hashani nature trail, the Red Sky Meditation Circle helps guests find a sense of communion with nature and peace, calm and relief from stress amidst the spectacular Tucson sunset and soothing desert air.

Lavender and Sage Glow:

This deeply exfoliating treatment improves the skin’s circulation while instantly softening and smoothing the skin with herbs and essential oils.

Red Mountain Spa
1275 E. Red Mountain Circle
Ivins, UT 84738


Few places on earth match the beauty and tranquility of the red rocks surrounding St. George, Utah. The Sagestone Signature Treatments are inspired by health, wellness, and beauty rituals that are practiced in the diverse cultures of the world, crafted with desert botanicals, mineral-rich muds, clays and salts, handcrafted essential oils, rich body butter, lotions and balms, and other indigenous ingredients.

Four Directions

This Native American inspired treatment embraces the four cardinal directions of the Medicine Wheel. Each direction is explored and sacred herbs, plants, stones, animal symbols and principles of each direction are shared. You will experience the ritual of smudging to rid oneself of negative energy and thought and the simplicity of focus with the making of a prayer tie. You will select an animal totem that will represent your spirit animal. This treatment includes a full-body cornmeal/tobacco exfoliation, a warm, gentle rinse, a relaxing cedarwood full-body massage, and a sweetgrass herbal wrap to bring peace and good spirits to the healing. Join us on Red Mountain Spa’s unique spiritual journey.

Native American Card Reading

This unique experience offers spiritual guidance, clarification, and nurturing support for any life question or issue.  The reading begins with smudging, a connecting exercise, and a Lakota prayer song accompanied by soft drumming. Using three Native American card decks and your selection from an array of stones & crystals, you will be provided with an inspirational interpretation of your life’s path and an opportunity to reconnect with your soul’s wisdom and find your answers within.

Skaná: The Spa at Turning Stone
5218 Patrick Road
Verona, NY 13478


Inspired Spa TreatmentsThe Native American heritage of the Oneida Indian Nation is alive and well at Skaná: The 33,000-square-foot spa, located at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, takes its inspiration from time-honored remedies of the Oneida people. The name Skaná actually comes from the Oneida word for peace.

Steeped in American Indian design, spa treatments include traditional Native American herbs, plants, and flowers. Native American heritage is apparent throughout the Spa including artwork representing Oneida Bear, Turtle, and Wolf clans.

The Oneida people believe in harmony and balance between man and nature. They placed great importance on their dreams. The Lavender Dreams treatment promotes tranquility of the mind, body, and spirit that is so relaxing that guests soon enter “Dreamland.” The treatment begins with a gentle full body scrub followed by a lavender oil massage and an application of warm stones. Relax in the lavender wrap and dream the winter blues away.

Sweat Lodge

The Spa has an authentic American Indian sweat lodge. Draped in buffalo hides, the red willow foundation of the lodge built by the Oneida Indian Nation along with the Oglala and Lakota Sioux tribes of South Dakota. Their interpretation is an American Indian version so there will be drumming, chanting, and storytelling beforehand.” The Sweat Lodge 3 hour Experience, is used to cleanse the body and purge the spirit, will be led by a representative from one of the American Indian tribes.

Yohutsya: te:

Based on the tradition of using mineral-rich medicinal mud, healing spring water, and light massage therapy; this treatment detoxifies and relaxes sore muscles and joints. The balancing ritual commences with a therapeutic mud wrap. The body is then immersed in a therapeutic thermal mineral bath for easing tension in muscles and joints, followed by a luxurious light massage application of minerals and juniper essential oil. This deluxe treatment has a detoxifying and totally relaxing effect.

Moss Spa
117 Main Street
Cold Spring Harbor, NY


Moss Spa Located in the historic and picturesque town of Cold Spring Harbor, New York, is a spa with soul— a place of exceptional warmth and hospitality, where cutting edge spa treatments are combined with yoga and healing arts to beautify from the inside out.

Native American Influence

At the heart of Moss Spa’s wellness focus is the integration of ancient wisdom with modern spa treatments and services. The spa incorporates centuries-old therapies and traditions into spa treatments to provide a deep level of holistic healing. In fact, one of Moss Spa’s signature services, the 90-day Total Body Transformation Program, ends with an ancient Native American ceremony: the butterfly release ritual. The 90-day program is designed to offer real tools and solutions to help anyone reach their wellness goals. It includes three months of unlimited yoga classes, nine acupuncture treatments, and six massage therapy sessions. Upon completion of the program, participants perform a butterfly release ritual to celebrate the culmination of three months of transformation. As the butterfly release legend goes, after whispering your innermost wishes to the butterfly, it carries them up to the heavens to be granted. “I chose to include a butterfly release ritual in the 90-day Transformation Program because I think that butterflies are a symbol for Moss as a spa,” says Tara. “Butterflies represent transformation and that is what Moss is all about. Above all, Moss Spa is a place to recuperate, relax and transform into the best person you can be.”

Mii Amo
525 Boynton Canyon Rd
Sedona, AZ 86336

Located in the red mountains of Sedona, Ariz., the Enchantment Resort spa called “Mii Amo,” which means passage, journey, or to move forward in the Native American Yuman language. The spa offers treatments from many cultures, including traditional Swedish massage and blue-corn body polish that relies on an American Indian practice of using the corn for cleansing and purifying the skin.

Guests gathering for the morning ritual, the blessing of the oils, sit on a circular bench in a “sacred space,” the Crystal Grotto. Built like a kiva, the Native American ceremonial temple, the round room has a sand floor and is dark despite an opening in the ceiling to connect the sky with the earth. A quartz crystal perches on a petrified tree base in the center of the room. Towards evening the Grotto becomes a place for meditation.  Meditation, drumming and crystal therapy is practiced daily within the Crystal Grotto.

Mii Amo

The Inner Quest

A treatment administered by therapists who have been blessed by tribal elders, it incorporates heated basalt river rocks, herbal medicines, and sweetgrass smudging

This treatment was created to honor Native American ceremonies and rituals. This treatment itself has been accepted and partially created by the Native American Program Director and the Mii amo therapists. The therapists performing it have been blessed by a local tribal elder. The treatment utilizes plants sacred to Native Americans and is based on the four directions of the Medicine Wheel representing four stages of life. The Circle of Life blanket is used to create the warmth of a sweat lodge and honor the tribal elders, or Wisdom Keepers, who pass down the teaching and spiritual direction. Sweetgrass smudging is incorporated to cleanse negative energy and will be burned with the intention to bring good things and experience a positive way of life. Heated massage stones representing ancient tribal ancestors. The combination of the heavy blanket and hot stones creates the warmth of the sweat lodge in this body wrap-like detoxifying treatment.  This beautiful ceremony will allow you to reconnect with your inner self and keep the sacred wisdom of the Native American culture alive.

ShaNah Spa and Wellness Center at Bishop’s Lodge
1297 Bishop’s Lodge Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501


Inspired by the traditions of Native American people, complemented by the comforting locale of a lush valley, the SháNah Spa and Wellness Center at Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa provides a luxury spa experience that brings body and spirit into harmony.

The spa takes its name from the Navajo word for “vitality and energy,” but the Native American traditions incorporated here derive from many American Indian tribes as well as eastern Indian massage techniques.  Native Americans recognize that humans are part of nature, and wellness is a matter of balance.  The SháNah Spa offers a natural environment that relaxes the mind and body, and treatments that revitalize the spirit.  Native American traditions include prayer, various types of massage, the sweat lodge ceremony, and the use of all-natural regional herbs.

The SháNah Spa incorporates Native American techniques and herbs:   Treatment sessions begin with an optional Native American blessing.  Massage options include the signature Native Stone massage.  Blue cornmeal is used as an exfoliation in the Purification Polish treatment, and the massage oils contain oils of juniper, lavender, and sage.

The Sweat Lodge is a traditional Native American spiritual and physical experience that is performed as a ceremony to promote healing. It includes prayers, songs, and teachings to enhance the lives of the participants. The Sweat Lodge is by arrangement and is limited to 10 or 12 participants. Individuals and groups are welcome. The Sweat Lodge is not done for a fee but traditionally offerings are made to the Ceremony Leader and Fire Tender and can take many forms.  A Purification Ceremony or “Sweat Lodge” with a Native American ceremony leader is available by arrangement.

Sheraton’s Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa
5594 West Wild Horse Pass Boulevard
Chandler, Arizona 85226

Set on Arizona’s Gila River Indian Community, the Aji Spa at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort vets treatments with tribal elders.  There isn’t a word for a hello or goodbye in the Pima and Maricopa language, which made the greeting at the front door of Sheraton’s Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa an appropriate translation: “Friend, welcome to my house. It is good to see you. The creator be with you.”

As you walk into the Aji spa, a floor mosaic tells the creation story. The pool area has a traditional roundhouse in the shade, and treatments are based on Pima lore and traditional ingredients. Tashogith, the purifying facial treatment, employs white clay, which was used by the Pima to treat acne. Aut, a facial repair treatment, focuses on aloe, used within the community to soothe and soften the skin.

Bahn, the Blue Coyote Wrap

Derived from the Pima legend of the Bluebird and the Coyote, this treatment begins with a dry brush exfoliation to promote circulation and an application of Azulene mud, which will soothe, nourish, and heal the skin. Symbolic of Coyote’s coat turning the beautiful color of Bluebird the proprietary Azulene mud is applied to the body. Unlike prideful Coyote, as the blue is removed, your skin will feel more radiant, soft, and beautiful. The entire experience is completed with hydrating cedar/sage oil and a full body massage. Your therapist will give you a copy of the Bluebird and the Coyote Legend for you to take home and share with your friends and family.

Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa

Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa
1300 Tuyuna Trail,
Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico 87004
505- 867-1234

The deluxe Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa is located halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe and sits on 500 sprawling acres of a 73,000-acre reservation.  It is one of the largest resorts ever built on Native American land. And you can’t beat the Sandia Mountains on the horizon for scenery.

Great pains have been taken to respect the ancient spirits at the resort. One of the pools is built in a circle, replicating the ceremonial Kivas that have been an integral part of Pueblo life for centuries. Spa treatments are designed to use products that are indigenous to the area.

Native Herbal Wrap

Linens–steeped in a specially formulated herbal blend that changes with the seasons–are wrapped around the body to promote detoxification and relaxation in a soothing envelope of heat. Please allow at least 25 minutes prior to this treatment in order to accommodate changing and warming time in the sauna, steam room, or hot tub.

Spirit Path

Experience an ancient tradition of healing as we ease your mind and body into a restorative state of relaxation. Your path begins with massage incorporating aromatic oils and then your skin is gently exfoliated using our Tamaya Blue Corn Flour. You will then be enveloped in the luxury of our Native Herbal Wrap, to deeply penetrate and detoxify your body, and fall deep into the relaxation as the session concludes with an aroma-therapeutic scalp massage.

Ancient Drumming

A truly original offering, experience the healing nature of the abundant land and ancient tradition. An application of mud from the Jemez Mountains infused with New Mexico’s red chile creates a highly detoxifying mud masque, which is applied directly to the body. As the mud penetrates, your therapist will gently drum away stress by using flaxseed-filled muslin bags dipped in piñon-scented oil in an innovative percussion technique. Afterward, your body will be drenched with warm oil and lightly exfoliated using our aromatic Piñon Resin Scrub.

Willow Stream Spa – The Spa At Fairmont Scottsdale
7575 East Princess Drive
Scottsdale, Arizona 85255

Rising from the resort’s beautiful Hacienda Plaza is Willow Stream Spa, which pays tribute to the Arizona landscape. Inspired by a hidden oasis deep in the Grand Canyon called Havasupai (pronounced Hah-vah-su-pie), the Scottsdale spa’s design is drawn from nature’s primary elements – air, water, earth, wood, and fire. These essential elements combined with innovative treatments designed to inspire and rejuvenate will help you along a self-directed path as you ‘Find Your Energy’.

Native Tradition

 Inspired by the time-honored traditions of Native American culture, this experience renews the skin and spirit. Beginning with an optional “smudging” to purify for healing, this treatment features a body mask of cornmeal, clay, and oats exfoliated using an Ayate Cloth (a natural fiber cloth made from the cactus plant). The grains are then showered off and the healing is completed with a nourishing body massage featuring an essential oil blend reflecting the desert environment. Purification complete.

Asante Day Spa and Holistic Health Center
1003 3rd Street
San Rafael, CA 94901

San Francisco: (415) 221-2500
Holistic Health Center (appointment only)

Pleasanton: (925) 461-2533
Holistic Health Center (appointment only)

Native American Retreat

Reconnect with ancient traditions starting first with our invigorating Anasazi Bean, blue corn, and aloe body scrub. Anasazi Beans are a recently rediscovered legume with a 500-year-old history. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Blue corn, considered sacred by native people was used in ancient healing ceremonies. Together this potent food-grade natural exfoliates will slough off old cells and encourage new cell growth, shrink pores, and revitalize your skin. Follow with a 60-minute hot stone massage. You may also choose to complete your journey by adding a traditional Hopi native ear candling treatment.

The Spa at Camelback Inn
Camelback Inn, A JW Marriott Resort & Spa
5402 East Lincoln Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85253

 Native Spa TreatmentsAt A Glance: This resort dates back to 1936, when it hosted Hollywood legends and presidents, and retains its authentic adobe feel. Today it’s owned by JW Marriott and is blurring the lines between destination spas and resort spas. For the body, it offers a full schedule of fitness classes free to guests or locals who get a spa treatment.

Comprehensive aerobic and testing programs that assess your current physiological status. For spirit, The “Healing Drum Circle” at sunset around an open fire pit includes Native American drumming. Or you do the typical resort thing and play on the 36-hole golf course or lounge by the pool.

The Adobe Clay Purification Treatment

Inspired by Native American healing rituals, he uses pure red adobe clay and herbs indigenous to the Arizona desert, such as sage, juniper, and sandalwood. After the adobe clay is applied to the body to relax muscles and draw impurities from the system, a Southwestern-inspired soap and cactus fiber cloth is used during a shower to remove the clay.

The Golden Door Spa at The Boulders Resort
34631 N. Tom Darlington Dr.
PO Box 2090, Carefree, AZ 85377

The Golden Door at the Boulders offers multiple treatments originating from Native American healing practices, including its signature Turquoise Wrap, which is based on the Native American belief that turquoise is a protective color and creates a sense of peace and well-being. They also offer the Shamanic Touch which employs the healing techniques of the Shaman, who in ancient Native American culture acted as a mystic, poet, sage, and healer of the sick. After visiting the Shaman, take a trip through the Labyrinth (inspired by the Hopi Medicine Wheel), the Boulder’s meditative maze. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools and they represent a journey to one’s center and back again out into the world.

Turquoise Wrap

This signature treatment is based on the Native American belief that turquoise is a color of protection, self-confidence, and positive energy.  A revitalizing exfoliation supports a nourishing warm turquoise clay wrap concluding with a honey butter application. During this indulgence, the therapist performs a rain-stick ritual and uses traditional essential oils to harmonize the spirit.

Shamanic Touch

This alternative healing modality employs the techniques of the Shaman, establishing a dialogue between the ailing part of the client’s body and the healer to determine the best method of healing. Based on the premise that ailments are messages, issues are brought out to deal with, allowing the inner healing to begin. For example, a person with lower back pains may feel a lack of support in some area of life, or a person with liver problems may carry unresolved anger. Once the subconscious causes of illness are identified, the Shaman follows up with energy- raising treatments using sunshine or the elements, connecting with the grounding earth by whatever treatment is called for.

Shamanic Chakra Session

This desert empowerment experience brings together the eastern and western worlds of balance and power.  After analyzing your chakras (Eastern Indian “vortexes of light”) and auras (the measurable flow of life force surrounding the body) to identify areas of need, the Shaman will systematically clear and strengthen each area with a special ritual using crystals, ceremonial feathers, candles, and universal healing energy. This moving, healing experience may alter your perceptions of your earthly journey.

Native Spa Treatments

Inn and Spa at Loretto Santa Fe
211 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

The Spa at Loretto honors the many cultures and traditions—and the magical blend of old and new—that represent Genuine Santa Fe. From ancient global rituals to body treatments based on indigenous New Mexico herbs and minerals, our Santa Fe day spa takes you on a journey into the ultimate personal care and relaxation.

Native Reflections

This day spa ritual begins with a sage clearing and blessing. Sage has long been used by Native American people as an herb for cleansing and clearing. Burned in a dried bundle called a smudge stick, it clears negative energies and elevates one’s prayers as the smoke lifts to the heavens. Next, soak undisturbed in your ritual bath infused with sage oil. This local, indigenous oil lifts the spirits, clears the lungs and strengthens the respiratory system. The experience continues with a Sacred Stone Massage using our own house-blended desert sage massage oil. The aroma of sage absolutely fills the room and transports you into a timeless and ancient frame of mind—a perfect mood for leaving behind the stresses of the day and reconnecting with the Earth and yourself. Take home a smudge stick as our gift to you.

Sundance Resort
8841 N. Alpine Loop Road
Sundance, Utah 84604

Sundance ResortRejuvenate yourself in the Spa at Sundance, a place inspired by the Sioux concept of Hocoka—a sacred environment for the restoration and healing of the body and spirit.

In the six natural wood, softly-lit treatment rooms of our eco-friendly building, we blend Native American traditions, totally natural products, and the human touch to bring your body, mind, and spirit back into perfect balance.

“Our goal at the Spa at Sundance is to unify nature with the body and soul, as defined by the Native American concept of the Four Winds.

The four directions of the earth bond with the four seasons, the cycles of life, and our physical being, which brings clarity to our connection with the universe.”

Kashe K’atreti Journey

Detoxify and Heal. The percussion method employed in the Ancient Drumming treatment sets the tone for this intensive detoxifying treatment. This 5 ½ hour treatment includes:

  • Native Herbal Wrap
  • Ancient Drumming
  • Four Paths Facial
  • Paraffin Manicure
  • Paraffin Pedicure

Sage & Sweet Grass Ritual

The aromatic, healing herbs of Sage & Sweet Grass are used throughout this treatment, including a Great Salt Lake Mud body wrap and essential oil re-hydration. This purifying, energizing therapy is enriched with the ritual Smudging (sweeping the smoke) of White Sage and Sweet Grass. This treatment truly is the best way to completely experience the Spa at Sundance.

Sage, powerful medicine and purifier, is burned as a protection against malevolent energies. It is used to establish a sacred boundary and to connect people with the spirit world.

Braided Sweet Grass reminds us of Mother Earth. Its smoke is used to call blessings and send prayers to the Great Spirit (Wakan Takan). Sweet Grass is believed to carry the deep wisdom of the Earth.

Warming Ginger Scrub

Native peoples from every continent utilize medicinal herbs. We’ve created an original body treatment using the ancient ginger root. Fresh ground ginger root has been blended into organic sugar and essential oils for full-body exfoliation. While being wrapped in warm blankets, enjoy a detailed head and shoulder massage that relaxes the mind and the body. After a shower, we will re-hydrate you with the warming scent of ginger. This treatment is designed to heal seasoned and tired skin and increase circulation.

Native Neroli Body Polish

Native Americans used the Neroli Flower (Orange Blossom) during ceremonies honoring a tribal member’s rise to a state of higher being. We’ve incorporated this original scent into a therapy designed to recondition your entire body. Our therapists use a Citrus Body Polish for a full-body exfoliation. Enjoy time wrapped in warm blankets for a complete head and shoulder massage. After showering and a re-hydration your skin will have a luxurious, radiant glow.

Honey & Cornmeal Body Blanket

In some native cultures, honey was used to cleanse the skin and purify the body after a spiritual journey called “Hanblecheyapi” (Han-Blay-cchay-yapee), also known as a Vision Quest. We’ve taken pure honey and blended it with ground cornmeal to exfoliate, detoxify and repair body and spirit. Your journey begins with a body dry brushing to exfoliate and increase circulation. The pure scrub, rich in vitamins and minerals is massaged onto your body. While snugly wrapped and gently heated in our Pendleton Sioux Story Blankets, your therapist will treat you to a relaxing head and face massage. This indulgence concludes with a shower and a brief massage.

Try Tribal Treatments

When going to a spa, I frequently love to indulge in the indigenous treatments of the area.  The treatments that I cannot easily find near my home.  I hope you are inspired to explore and try the spa treatments inspired by Native American rituals and indigenous ingredients, Southwestern spas and health retreats focus less on quick fixes and more on overall emotional and physical wellness. Unlike the majority of conventional spas, this region’s regimens include spiritual elements.  Many services begin with smudging, for example, a cleansing ritual in which a healer ignites a bundle of herbs and wafts the smoke over clients.  However, it is not exclusive to the southwest; the Native American Culture may be found in spas throughout the United States, so find a spa near you.

Tribal Treatments