Monday, May 30, 2011

The Traditional Mexican Temazcal

Recently I had the privileged of experiencing the traditional Mexican Temazcal at Rosewood Mayakoba.  To be completely honest I had not idea what was to come and just decided to go with the flow.  I do not want to tell you everything about it because it would certainly spoil the experience.

The Temazcal is a type of sweat bath that has been used for both healing and ritual purposes in Mexico for hundreds of years.  The Temazcal is incredibly cleansing and spiritually uplifting.  Aztecs and Mayans would have steam baths to seek vision, blessings, purification or enter a trance state to communicate with the gods and their ancestors.

Temazcal is an Aztec name that comes from the Nahuatl-Aztec language words Temaz – to bathe and Calli-house.  The inside of the Temazcal represents the womb of Mother Earth, it’s darkness is human ignorance, the hot stones the coming of life and the steam is a creative force of the universe.  The hut is constructed so that the entrance faces east-the source of life and power, dawn of wisdom and the fire place is directly east of the entrance and represents the undying light of the world.

The Temazcal is a closed structure with a small pit in the center and an entrance.  Participants enter through the door and gather around the pit.  The pit in the ground holds hot volcanic rocks that have been previously heated in the fireplace.  Water is poured on the hot rocks to produce steam.  The Temazcal traditionally goes through four rounds and participants can choose to stay or leave at the end of each round.  During each of the pauses, more rocks are added to the pile. Increasing the heat of the Temazcal.

At Rosewood Mayakoba the Temazcal goes a step further and the first part includes a Shaman – Mayan priest, that will recreate an indigenous ritual connecting the four cardinal points at a ceremony that takes place in the cenote, a sink hole, located a couple of steps away from the Temazcal.  The ceremony will connect you with your internal being – a circle of fire, an offering of love, worship and chants to nature and the universe.  After the ceremony they will guide you to the Temazcal and the first of the four rounds will begin.  The purifying steam bath is based on traditional Mayan healing methods, produced by water infused with herbs to purify, cure, revitalize and balance your body and soul.

The experience was intense and felt immediately, suddenly I was more aware and in a state of well-being rarely felt after a conventional spa treatment. If you ever have the chance to do it, go for it.  It will change the way you feel.

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