Temazcal (house of heat) is a type of sweat lodge. A curative and spiritual ceremony which originated with pre-Hispanic Indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica. Today, Indigenous peoples in Central America and Mexico have upheld this cultural tradition, which is still used for both medical and spiritual practices.
While I was living in Mexico, I participated in my first New Moon Temazcal Ceremony. This was by far my most challenging, yet equally rewarding ceremony to date. Some refer to a Temazcal Ceremony as a rebirth – for me it was a life, death, life experience.
I looked into a few different Temazcal ceremonies and decided on Yaan Wellness. Yaan Wellness is located in Tulum MX, its part of Be Tulum and exemplifies the magic the area is known for. When I walked onto the property, I felt like I was transported to a mystical far off land, a sanctuary nestled in the lush Tulum jungle.
We were guided through the property to an area where we were greeted by three guides, a Mayan healer, a translator and a gentle man who tended to the volcanic rocks. After the rocks were fire heated outside, he would place them inside the structure, pouring water over the rocks, which in turn, creates a very intense hot vapor bath.
The ceremony began with a copal cleansing and blessing. We then formed a circle around the alter where we prayed to the four elements (earth, air, water and fire) asking for openness, strength, guidance and participation.
I entered the Temazcal and took my place on the cool clay floor. Nestled in front of the volcanic rock pit, I felt anxious, curious and filled with anticipation. More hot volcanic rocks were added, the entrance to the Temazcal was sealed, the lodge became dark and the journey through the four doors began.
About twenty minutes into the ceremony I started feeling extreme discomfort. I sat on the floor holding my knees, my skin began to drip, heart beat steadily increasing and my body temperature was rising faster than ever before. I tried to focus my attention on the group, joining in on the singing and chanting but my mind was slowly starting to take over. I made it through the first door of the ceremony but shortly into the 2nd door, the struggle was real.
I tried shifting my attention towards my breath which made everything worse because this allowed for even more - hot vapor to fill my lungs. Panic set in, “Am I going to die in here?" I sank to the clay floor in a fetal position and began to cry. My heart now racing even faster from the penetrating heat and loud chanting, I cried out, “If I’m meant to be here tonight, I need help!” Almost as soon as I said those words, a woman from our circle got up, she needed to leave. As she opened the door, I was greeted by this cool breeze from outside. My heart filled, I felt held, like the universe had my back and there was no need for me to worry. It was my reminder that even in our darkest, most uncomfortable moments we are being guided by something greater.
The physical discomfort remained but it was more like background music now. I joined the group and began to sing, chant and gazed deeper into the bright red ambers flickering in front of me. There were moments I was fully present, receiving and sharing energy with the group. Other moments, I was led down a more personal path of feeling into past celebrations and traumas. The group lost two more before the ceremony was complete but I proudly made it through all four doors!
I walked out of the Temazcal and my cup was full. I felt so much love, lighter, total inner peace and fully connected. I could hear the ocean in the background, the jungle breeze felt like silk on my skin and then I look up…A black sky filled with what felt like a million, bright, twinkling stars and this brilliant, beautiful moon directly above me. This was the cherry on top, pure magic.
I was challenged that night and almost did not make it to the end but I’m so thankful I did. My Temazcal experience was soul changing, a lot of healing took place and I received some valuable life reminders.
If my story sparked curiosity or interest, then I recommend adding a Temazcal ceremony to your bucket list. Transformation happens when we: try new things, give our minds permission to rest and allow our hearts and souls to take the lead.
P.S. Pictures are not allowed during the ceremony, rightfully so, this is not an IG story type of moment:) Attached pictures were borrowed from Yaan Wellness - a space in Tulum totally worth visiting.