Temazcal in Mexico City: A Day of Rebirth and Aura Cleansing

Temazcal in Mexico City

In this Article


It’s an early Sunday morning in Mexico City. My backpack is packed with an extra pair of clothes, flip-flops, and a cacao granola bar.

I’m heading to my first Temazcal, and if I’m being honest, I have no idea what to expect. But I have a feeling it’s going to be good.

A few Google searches told me that a Temazcal is an ancient wellness ritual practiced throughout Mesoamerica, particularly by the Mayans.

This ritual involves crawling into a small domed structure filled with extremely hot steam and the aroma of herbs. But we’ll get to that later.

First, I wanted to understand why this ritual was so popular in ancient times and why it’s still practiced today.

What is the history of Temazcal?

The origins of the temazcal date back to ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, including the Aztecs, Maya, and other indigenous groups.

The word “temazcal” comes from the Nahuatl language, spoken by the Aztecs, and translates to “house of heat.” Traditionally, temazcals are dome-shaped structures made from natural materials like volcanic rock, mud, and wood, symbolizing the womb of Mother Earth and representing a place of rebirth and purification.

They were used for various purposes: the steam and heat were believed to purify the body and soul, remove toxins, and promote physical and spiritual healing.

Temazcals also played a crucial role in religious ceremonies and rites of passage, including pre-war rituals, childbirth, and other significant life events. Herbs and medicinal plants were often used to enhance the healing effects.

Today, a Temazcal can be done for various reasons, from grieving the death of a loved one to cleansing negative energy or starting a new chapter in life. It’s still thought of as a rebirth and an aura cleanser.

The Experience of Temazcal in Mexico City


Back to the early Sunday morning in Mexico City.

Around 9:45, I hopped in an Uber to head to Xochimilco, known to most tourists as the Aztec Canals with the colorful boats. But it’s also a sacred place where a lot of shamans in Mexico City perform their rituals.

When I arrived at the location shared in the group created by the shaman a few days prior, and I was pleased to find myself in nature, surrounded by trees and a pasture. A nice contrast from the hustle of the city.

In the distance, I saw some men building the Temazcal structure and others building a fire outside of it.

If I thought was nervous before, it was 10x worse now, because I didn’t know what to expect, and it was all locals. I definitely stood out with my blonde hair, green eyes, and fair skin.

However, I was ushered to meet the head shaman, who happened to be the shaman of a previous professor of mine, which is how I was invited to this local ceremony in the first place. His calm energy, put me at ease. Although we didn’t speak the same language, the energy was palpable.

Lighting the Fire

Another shaman signaled for us to make a circle around the then-unlit fire pit. They came around with sacred tobacco, which we held in our palms, set our intentions into, and eventually would be dropped into the fire.

Before that, the fire needed to be lit. After the welcoming messages from all four shamans, the fire was lit from all four sides—east, west, north, and south—simultaneously.

While the shamans lit the fire, people around the circle chanted and played drums. A woman everyone referred to as Abuela went around the circle cleansing everyone with sage.

Intention Setting

Once the fire was roaring, we went around the circle saying our intentions and one by one dropped our intention-infused tobacco into the fire.

When it was my turn to speak, I was shaking from nerves and the accumulating energy. I started in Spanish, apologizing for my lack of it, and then switched to English. As I stated my intention, one of the guys stepped in to translate so everyone in the circle could understand.

The woman who had cleansed me with sage, the Abuela, gave me a supportive smile and wink, easing my nerves. After sharing my intention, I felt welcomed and accepted by the locals.

After everyone had set their intentions, we prepared to enter the temazcal. I wore my yoga shorts and a sports bra. In more “touristic” temazcals, it’s common to see people wearing swimsuits, but here most women were wearing a traditional long cotton skirt. I quickly learned why once we started.

Entering the Hut

Before entering the temazcal, you are brushed with eucalyptus branches by the shaman. I wasn’t exactly sure why, but I didn’t question it. Then I was ushered to crawl into the structure on my hands and knees. At the entrance, you pause, place your head on the ground, and say “Ometot,” honoring the Aztec god of duality.

Inside, you crawl on your hands and knees around the circle clockwise until you find the next available spot along the wall, which in this case is a blue tarp held down by rocks. I learned that there would be four rounds of the Temazcal ceremony, one for each of the directions and elements—earth, wind, fire, and water. Between each round, we had mini ceremonies. But before we could start, the hot rocks from the fire outside needed to be ushered in.

As I sat in the little hut, semi-clueless about what was happening, everyone started chanting as the rocks were ushered in by a man using a pitchfork. He slid the hot rocks into the hut, and the shamans picked them up with animal antlers and placed them in the hole in the middle of the hut.

First Round

The hut was already hot from the stones, but it was about to get even hotter. After some explanation and chanting, the door to the hut was closed, and the first round began.

The shamans started chanting and dipping the eucalyptus branches in water, thrashing the hot stones with them, causing steam to fill the tent. The heat and energy were building.

I was next to an 8-year-old girl, Luna, who lay on the ground from the beginning. She tickled me with the bundle of herbs we were all given to smell when it started getting too intense. It helped me stay calm as my body temperature rose, my heart raced, and sweat poured from my body.

The first round seemed endless. Just as I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, the door swung open for fresh air. Round one was complete.

Second Round

Before the second round began, the shamans introduced a sacred tobacco pipe and passed it around. I don’t smoke and already felt lightheaded, so I wasn’t thrilled about smoking tobacco.

Luckily, the man who spoke English whispered to me that I didn’t need to smoke it, just tap the end of the pipe to both shoulders, bow with it on my forehead, and pass it to the next person. I was relieved.

Once the pipe had made its way around the circle, it was time for round two. More hot stones were ushered in, and the door was closed.

This time, another shaman spoke with more gusto as he thrashed the leaves around, spraying the stones and all of us with water. The hut filled quickly with heat, feeling like a wave rushing through my body.

I lay down again, easing the lightheadedness and queasy feeling. I started to meditate, and before I knew it, the door flung open. Round two was complete.

Third Round

Before more stones were ushered in, we went around the circle honoring the people we had lost. It took me a while to catch on to what everyone was saying since the instructions were in Spanish, and the energy in the hut was so intense I didn’t dare to speak. It was a moving scene.

Tears came to my eyes thinking about life and death and how beautiful the relationship Mexicans have with their deceased ancestors. I paid respects to my grandmother and cousin, and then it was time for more stones. Round 3 began.

This was the shortest but most intense round. As soon as the door shut, the shaman started yelling and aggressively thrashing the eucalyptus leaves in water onto the stones.

This time, I stayed sitting, watching and feeling the wave of heat. The energy overpowered the heat, and before I knew it, the door flung open again. Round 3 was complete.

Fourth Round

We were allowed to leave the hut before round 4 to drink water and get fresh air. Crawling out of the hut was a beautiful feeling. I drank some water and looked at my mud-covered legs, laughing at how lighter and cleaner I felt.

I was ushered back into the hut for the final round. More rocks were brought in, and the pile grew bigger. The door shut, and the final round began. This was the longest round, but it seemed the easiest since I had been through three before. I couldn’t help but smile, thinking about how I ended up doing a temazcal with four local shamans in a field outside Mexico City. Despite the physical pain from the heat, I felt nothing but love and bliss radiating from my body.

The round ended, and the door opened. The ceremony was over. Outside the tent, the shaman washed me with cold water, and my little scream when the water was first poured on me amused the others, who all giggled.

Ending to My Temazcal in Mexico City

Before I left, the woman who cleansed everyone with sage told me, through the English-speaking man, how happy she was that I came and that she liked my energy. I cried, we hugged, and it was over. Time to head back to the hustle and bustle of the city.

Only now, something had shifted inside me. Maybe they’re on to something here. Maybe this really can cleanse your aura.

Where You Can Experience a Temazcal in Mexico City

Pin to board
Share on facebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *