By Scott Seckel
"A reputable retreat company would not be conducting the lodge themselves," Preston said. "In our case we use Native American practitioners because they use a format which has been established for centuries."
Lodge keepers who aren't native have "almost always" been trained by Native Americans, Preston said.
It's a complex process. Apprentices can train for one to two years just to tend the fire outside in which the lava rocks are heated.
"If someone came to us and said, 'It's our own thing,' that would be a huge red flag," he said. "There's some art to it ... (Native Americans) know exactly what they're doing, and they don't kill anyone doing it."
No safeguards have been put in place, before or since the three deaths, according to Johanna Mosca of Sedona Spirit Hiking and Yoga. Mosca, who has done more than 50 sweats since 1994, does not have a lodge on her property.
If her clients want to sweat, she calls local practitioners.
"The precaution we put in is knowing the person who is leading the sweat lodge," she said. "I would allow my 90-year old father to attend a sweat lodge.
"I totally trust the people I know in Sedona who are leading lodges as sacred practices. Things go awry when things are led for profit and people are not conscious. I think this was an isolated incident. I hate it that it makes Sedona people look like irresponsible woo-woo jerks."
For more on the subject, see How James Ray Fleeced His Flock and How Sweat Lodges Can Kill.