Published On: Fri, Jun 13th, 2014

Temazcal: A Treatment for Physical and Spiritual Diseases

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You are locked inside a pitch-black concrete dugout in Mexico, sweating in unbearable heat. With you is a shaman who has been chanting ceaselessly for the past two hours as strange vapors swirl around him.

It may sound like a harrowing ordeal, but you actually volunteered for it.

This is the world of Temazcal, a practice dating back centuries to when Mexico’s Mayan Riviera was wilderness and the Mayan civilization was at the height of its power.

Temazcal entails entering a stone igloo with little or no clothing on and sweating it out to the sound of chanting and the fragrance of herbs.



Typically carried out for small groups by a shaman who’s usually a member of one of the Mayan communities in the surrounding area, the process lasts two hours and it can be a tough experience.

Anyone with diabetes or heart disease should forget it, while those susceptible to claustrophobia or skepticism, might think it twice before entering the Temazcal.

Even skeptics, however, can rest assured that they’ll come out from their two-hour session feeling refreshed, invigorated and probably a few pounds lighter.

During the session, rosemary, basil, peppermint and other scents waft over a vapor created by the shaman as he gently throws water over a pile of hot rocks in a pit in the middle of the floor.

Visitors are kept hydrated with herbal tea and are permitted to lie down, walk around, or sit still — whatever it takes to cleanse body and mind.

But once they check in, they can’t check out.

The shaman covers the dugout’s door with a thick blanket, and you find yourself in total darkness within the Temazcal. Your eyes soon adjust to the darkness and it is time to enjoy a comfortable two hour experience.

The only light you see are the brief sparks from the rocks when the shaman pours water on top of them.

The shaman’s constant chanting — urges you to direct your woes and pains toward the smoldering rocks to rid your body of hatred and lighten your mental and spiritual load.

When the shaman says: “let your inner child out,” you laugh, carried away by the mood of the moment, you feel relaxed and drift away in an introspective journey while the chanting of the shaman leads you in a healing process. At the end, you emerge from the session feeling physically and mentally refreshed and lighter. Your skin feels amazingly soft too.

The ancient Maya respected the steam bath’s efficacy and power for treating both physical and spiritual diseases,” says Rosita Arvigo, author of “Spiritual Bathing: Healing Rituals and Traditions from Around the World.”

Where to go for a Temazcal:


Na’ Lu’um Hotel

  • Libramiento Tecoh Km22.9, 97820 Tecoh, Yucatán
  • Phone:01 999 195 6294
  • (By appointment only)


Cenote Encantado, Cenote Encantado, 1320 Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico; +52 55 1991 4266; 4,200 pesos ($320) total, the company prefers a minimum of 10 persons per Temazcal (cost can be split)

Dos Palmas EcoTours, Playa del Carmen, Mexico; +52 984 1116 3403; $65 per person, which includes the Temazcal as well as a visit to and a meal with a Mayan community

Temazcal Cancun, Carretera Cancun-Merida, Km. 302, Calle Flamboyan 8, El Ramonal, Quintana Roo, Mexico, +52 998 168 8252 or +52 998 147 5723; call for pricing information


Mexico Travel Care




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