In the last 20 years, spas in the Riviera Maya have been given a whole new meaning. The ancient Mexican Temazcal bath ritual, Aztec for “steam bath” has become increasingly popular in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Although sweat baths are renowned in various cultures around the world, the traditional Mexican sweat bath differs in several ways.
Temazcal bath rituals take place inside round mud structures that resemble large bee hives, specifically designed to prevent heat from escaping . Their center is slightly elevated for participants to move around and the entranceway is low and small for the symbolic role that it represents, the re-entry into the womb.
According to this ancient Aztec doctrine,when entering a Temazcal we return to our mother’s womb, presided over by the goddess Temazcaltoci, the great mother of both gods and humans. She aims to cure physical and spiritual ills by separating us from the outside world so we can reconnect with our inner self.
In addition to spiritual healing, Temazcal baths offer great physical benefits: they cleanse the body from toxins and protect against most skin infections. The vapor of the bath purifies your respiratory system through the inhalation of aromatic vapors from curative plants. Temazcal baths heal headaches and their soothing effect may alleviate conditions of the nervous system.
While most sweat baths may generate these results, the Temazcal ritual is more effective due to the regulated precision by which the healer guides the ritual bath. Its fundamental method consists in the way heat and humidity are combined. The sauna, for example, reaches higher temperatures but since it is a drier process, its curative capabilities are lower. Other types of steam bath procedures combine heat and humidity as well, but the Temazcal is more efficient for two reasons: the healer in charge of the bath adjusts heat and humidity to meet the patients’ specific needs, and the herbal teas used for vapor are carefully selected for their effect on each individual patient.
Traditionally, one leaves a Temazcal by crawling out backwards and is led to a resting place. At Hacienda Tres Ríos, we provide you with an added benefit once the session is over; a refreshing dive into our cenote to cool down. Herbal tea and fresh fruit are also served to replenish and rehydrate the fluids that were lost during the session.
The length of time spent inside the Temazcal will depend on the heat of the bath, the constitution of the individual and the condition that is being treated.