For the ultimate relaxing experience, venture into a traditional Maya temazcal
Endless sun and sand, crystal clear water, peace and harmony leaving you energized. This is part of what you will discover when you visit Mexico’s Riviera Maya. For those in serious need of rest and relaxation, the next time you visit Playa del Carmen, venture out to a traditional temazcal.
A temazcal (temas ‘kal) is a type of sauna or sweat lodge. The word temazcal means house of heat. It originated from pre-Hispanic Indigenous people in Mesoamerica and was used to purify the body after long battles or ceremonial ball games. Temazcals were also used to heal the sick, to improve health and as a place for women to give birth.
These ancient hot vapor baths are still used today in Indigenous cultures in Mexico along the Riviera Maya. With a bit of a modern twist, the ancient Mesoamerican baths are used today for cleansing of the mind, body and spirit. Many who have participated in traditional temazcal claim health improvements ranging from the common cold to cancer, diabetes, emotional stress and psychological ailments.
While some temazcals have been discovered rectangular in shape, most temazcals are dome-shaped and are constructed of concrete or volcanic rock. To produce heat, volcanic rocks, which do not explode from high temperatures, are placed in a pit located in the center of the temazcal. Traditionally, the floor is bare earth.
Many temazcaleros — the spiritual guides who lead the ceremony — claim that because the temazcal ceremony is a spiritual ceremony, it can, unlike a sauna, cure practically any ailment, including physical, mental or emotional illnesses. Guides also promote the temazcal as a means of living a good life.
Once you enter the temazcal, your temazcaleros will guide you to ask for what you wish for while warning, “Be careful what you ask for in the temazcal.” After you’ve made your wish, you throw a handful of tobacco into the fire, which raises an energy.
Temazcaleros ask for cures to ailments including their own, and those of loved ones. They ask for peace in their pueblo, for help dealing with difficult people, for restoration of balance on Mother Earth or help dealing with their own emotional or economic problems.
A lot of people who participate in a traditional temazcal ceremony, especially newcomers, do so out of curiosity. Those who are open to the experience say that they enter feeling an energy they’ve never felt before and leave feeling the magic of the temazcal.