Mexico's Temazcál Experience

Mexico's Temazcál Experience
If you happen to be honeymooning on the Riviera Maya, make sure you check out the spas. Rejuvenation isn't simply a diversion here. It's a way of life and the area’s magic combined with the natural beauty of its surroundings sets the stage for a host of therapeutic treatments. The clever use of indigenous herbs used in the revived rituals practiced by the ancient Maya promise honeymooners spiritual as well as physical relief from stress.

Most large resorts house luxurious spas offering an ample roster of tempting treatments - many of them drawn from pre-Hispanic recipes. Day spas and small “mom and pop” roadside massage shops abound in larger towns such as Playa del Carmen, offering a "quick fix," to ease your stress.

Tradition dictates, however, that visitors to the Riviera Maya indulge in one which provides a unique source of spiritual and physical healing: the temazcál.”

For hundreds of years, Mexico’s ancient cultures have employed the temazcál, a purifying steam bath intended to cleanse the body and heal the mind and soul. Unlike steam baths or sweat lodges of northern indigenous cultures, which were used for ceremonial reasons, the temazcál was used primarily for therapeutic purposes.

Sweat baths, of course, are used in many places throughout the world and often combine the exotic elements of a Turkish bath, Finnish sauna and Native American “sweat hut.”

The traditional Mexican temazcál however differs from the others. While it does contain certain ceremonial elements, it has been used for throughout Mesoamerica for generations as a therapeutic instrument and for medicinal purposes.

The modern-day rituals are conducted by a shaman, usually last for two hours and are often conducted on the beach (although some are conducted in jungle settings).

You'll be led through a short ceremony celebrating Mother-Earth’s gifts of fire, water, earth and air, after which, you'll be led into a stone igloo (or pyramid) where you'll go through a series of exercises to purify the mind, body and spirit with special herbs, hot lava stones, steam, natural teas and candles. Herb-infused water is poured over heated volcanic rocks to extract toxins from the body and enhance energy flow from within, as guests form a circle inside a stone structure.

It's said that the high heat and humidity reached inside the "hut," along with the amount of sweat produced, leads to healing effects.

When the ceremony is finished, you'll be invited to complete the cleansing by throwing yourself into the moonlit sea. It’s not only a “spiritual” exercise - you may just lose a few pounds along the way.

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