Sweat Lodge

Sweat lodge known as Temazcal in Mexico, is an ancient ritual at least 2000 years old. Originally designed for childbirth, it is believed that Temazcal represents Mother Earth’s womb. Temazcal comes from the nahuatl word “Temazcalli” which translates to “House of sweat”.

This type of ceremony is traditional to most indigenous cultures in the continent. So sweat lodges aren’t exclusive to Nahuatl culture, many other native cultures around the continent like the Sioux, Olmec or Mohawk used to practice sweat lodges as well. Actually it is believed that all native cultures around the continent descended from the same origin and that’s why we can find lots of similarities between them.

In the modern world the closest thing to Temazcal are saunas and even though we can find some similarities between these practices, Temazcal is more than just a rustic sauna.

“Abuelas”, plants and sacred chanting

This powerful healing ritual uses hot volcanic rocks which are thousands of years old, all of them generated from volcanic eruptions, these rocks are called “Abuelas” (grandmothers) because of their ancient origins and the wisdom imbued in them.

Inside the sweat lodge the “Abuelas” are combined with water and therapeutic herbs or plants like; rosemary, lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus in order to create a steam bath that cleanses the body from toxins.

During the steam bath sacred chanting takes place in order to cleanse the mind and spirit. These sacred songs are thousands of years old and all of them contain wisdom that can be applied to our daily lives.

The tradition

The Temazcal ceremony is divided into 4 sections called “puertas” (doors) each section represents a natural element or cardinal point . Natural elements and cardinal points can be considered as symbols or archetypes that represent specific aspects of human consciousness(individually and collectively).

Temazcaleros (people that officiate Temazcal ceremonies) inherited the tradition verbally from their elders. Learning how to become a temazcalero is not an easy job, a lot of physical and mental work needs to be done, as well as commitments.

“Aguila de fuego”  (fire eagle) or fireman is the person in charge of keeping the fire alive through the whole process, “Águila de fuego” represents the masculine energy which is the energy of doing. It usually takes around 2 hours to get the flame to the point where it can start lighting up the “Abuelas” and 2 more hours to keep the flame on during the ceremony, so in a regular temazcal ceremony the “Águila de fuego” works for at least 4 hours non stop.

How to get ready for a Temazcal ceremony

Many wellness and yoga retreats in Mexico work with Temazcal because of its effectiveness in helping people to release and overcome pain, stress, anxiety and even trauma.

If you are coming to Mexico and you are willing to try this amazing experience, Abuelo Sergio (a highly experienced temazcalero) has some recommendations for you;

-Avoid alcohol and all sorts of drugs (2-3 days prior to temazcal).

-Have a light breakfast the day of the ceremony.

-Sleep well and keep hydrated.

-Start visualizing your intention for the ceremony a few days before.

Ancient practices in modern times

In conclusion, we live in a world where anxiety and stress have become part of our daily routines and because of this, implementing ancient practices to our daily lives hasn’t been more important than now. Many people may think that ancient practices like Temazcal or meditation are based on ignorant beliefs because of their ancient origins but nowadays we have science to prove all the benefits that these ancient practices offer to us.

If you are looking to try authentic indigenous experiences, we can help you connect with real native cultures, click on the bottom to get more information about the amazing wellness and retreat experiences that we offer.