The growing importance of spiritual wellness in travel has spawned interest in a Mayan tradition called Temazcal, which experts predict is poised to go global and become as common as the Swedish or Thai massage.
In an age when emails are never turned off, increased screen time is reducing human interaction, and rabid consumerism is being used to fill voids, exhausted travelers are increasingly seeking vacations that can put, not only their minds at ease, but also undernourished souls.
Enter Temazcal -- which translates roughly to “house of steam” -- an ancient Mexican practice that goes beyond the standard steam bath to include the presence of a shaman, who recites ancient prayers and chants to help guests slip into a meditative trance.
According to trendspotters at Spafinder, Temazcal is experiencing a surge in popularity in Mexico and will gain momentum in 2016, reads a Global Spa and Wellness report released this month.
With a history that can be traced back to ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, Temazcal takes place in a stone or adobe hut. Water is thrown on heated, volcanic stones which fills the dome with hot steam for a sauna-like effect, while incense and aromatic herbs perfume the air.
Then, a Temazcalera leads participants through a ritual of chants and prayers aimed at cleansing, not just pores, but minds and spirits. Built intentionally to resemble a woman’s womb -- the entryway representing a birthing canal -- the overarching theme of Temazcal is rebirth.
Authors of the report also credit Temazcal’s resurging popularity to the growing demand for “authenticity” among wellness seekers: local, indigenous culture is cited as the No. 1 luxury travel trend worldwide.
“As the wellness-inclined increasingly look to the wisdom of the ancients to nourish their mind, body, and soul, Temazcal serves as a prime example of our blossoming interest in ‘indigenous spirituality,’ an experience that combines a culture’s unique spiritual perspectives with universally acknowledged healing techniques,” the report reads.
Here’s where to find contemporary, luxe versions of Temazcal treatments in Mexico:
* El Dorado Royale
* Rosewood Mayakoba
* The Viceroy
* Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa
* Cancun Temazcal
Here are a few other ideas for spiritual wellness holidays round the world:
* Plum Village, France
With more than 200 resident monks and nuns, Plum Village, located in the south of France, is the largest Buddhist monastery in Europe. Founded by two Vietnamese monastics, the center holds sessions throughout the year, teaching participants how to practice mindfulness and live simply.
* The Suan Mokkh International Dharma Hermitage, Chaiya, Thailand
The Suan Mokkh International Dharma Hermitage in Chaiya, Thailand has hosted more than 22,000 visitors looking for peace and quiet. On the first day of every month, the center organizes a 10-day silent meditation retreat that teaches participants how to meditate using the power of silence. This is a no-frills retreat, where visitors sleep on a simple straw mat, wooden pillow with a blanket and mosquito net. Be warned: the wake-up call is at 4 am.
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