Mexican waterscape

For Under $100, You Too Can Be Reborn in Mexico (A Temazcal Ceremony Story)

Temazcal, which translates to “house of heat,” is a rebirth ceremony that takes place inside of a sweat lodge.

The practice is rooted in ancient Mayan culture and is conducted by a shaman known as the temazcalero. The purpose of temazcal is to help participants leave the past inside the lodge and exit feeling brand new—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Curious? Skeptical? Terrified? Samesies.

But given my penchant for saunas and woo woo wellness (give me all the crystals), I decided to sign up to experience temazcal during my recent stay at the J.W. Marriott in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Head inside the womb.

When I showed up at the spa, a staff member escorted me to a tiny terracotta structure that resembled a hobbit house. This is where I would be spending the next 90 minutes—with about 10 other people.

Apparently, temazcal is often a group experience.

Once inside the small sweat lodge, I took a seat around a fire pit filled with hot volcanic rocks. The shaman came in and sealed the door with a thick blanket. It was suddenly pitch black.

After a few moments of internal chaos (foreign country + pitch dark + strangers + heat) the temazcalero started beating on the drums.

He calmly explained that when we were inside our mother’s womb, it was completely dark and we could only hear her heartbeat, similar to our current situation. He proceeded to sing four songs, each dedicated to a different natural element (earth, fire, water, air).

As time went on, it became hotter and hotter. I drifted in and out of a trance-like state, even dozing off at some points.

In between songs, the shaman sprinkled water mixed with herbs into the pit, which released an aromatherapeutic smell and steam.

Get ready for group therapy. 

The temazcalero requested participation at certain points, such as asking each of us to face the rocks and vocalize what we wanted to release from our lives, and state our hopes and desires to the group.

Though I initially thought the rebirth metaphor was a tad hokey, it couldn’t have felt more real.

As I emerged from the darkness and squinted into the sunlight, I felt light, both physically and emotionally. My skin felt refreshed and soft. I had left my jealousy, resentment, and guilt (along with some water weight) inside.

Patience and self-confidence awaited me.

Okay, but is it worth it?

Temazcal is unfortunately not a cheap endeavor. At the J.W. Marriott, the 90-minute experience costs $90. However, I’ve had shorter massages and facials that cost more money.

The added emotional and spiritual benefits, in addition to the physical, made temazcal worth it for me.

Though the heat was never overwhelming, it was definitely warm. If you struggle to physically make it through a hot yoga class or dislike the sauna or steam room, I wouldn’t recommend temazcal.

It can also be difficult to be emotionally vulnerable in front of a group of people you have never met. This was challenging for me.

But the group component was also what made temazcal rewarding.

There’s power in numbers.

Speaking of which, having others participate lends a unique element of community and accountability to temazcal.

My personal intentions felt more real because I vocalized them to a group, rather than writing them down in a journal or setting a silent resolution for myself. Watching and hearing others shed their regrets and speak their hopes was inspiring. 

The verdict.

Temazcal is an undoubtedly more emotional and spiritual endeavor than any massage, facial, bath, sauna, or wellness practice I’ve tried.

It is also a cool opportunity to immerse yourself in a part of Mexican culture most people don’t know about.

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