Oaxaca Temazcal: Experience a Traditional Temazcal in Oaxaca

Are you looking for the best temazcal in Oaxaca?

You are in the right place. I live in the city and regularly participate in a temazcal ceremony. I’ve detailed my favorite Oaxaca temazcal, others that I recommend, and details about each one.

After experiencing my first temazcal ceremony in Oaxaca more than two years ago, I was hooked.

During the months of travel that followed, I found myself seeking a traditional temazcal every four to six weeks. 

And now that I live in Oaxaca City, the tradition has continued.

From Nabani Holistic Spa to Ceviarem Temazcal, each of these Oaxaca temazcal ceremonies are beautifully different in their own way.

A man kneels in front of a temazcal in Oaxaca. In front of him are plants, bundles of fresh herbs, and a round hand drum.

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What to Expect During a Oaxaca Temazcal Ceremony

After a temazcal ceremony in the mountains of San Jose del Pacifico left me yearning to delve into a deep meditative state again, I came to an important realization.

Every temazcal ceremony is different. Each temazcal provides what you need at the time, even if you have yet to discover exactly what that is yourself.

With her back facing the camera, a woman sits in front of a temazcal in Oaxaca. Four sticks form a pyramid next to her with bundles of fresh herbs underneath.

While it is true that every temazcal in Oaxaca is different, there are a few characteristics that you can expect to be present at most.

  • Typically a temazcal ceremony starts with a ritual to honor the four directions and the four elements of earth, water, air, and fire.
  • You may be guided to ask permission to enter the temazcal as you go inside one by one.
  • Often you are given a bundle of fresh herbs which will provide aromatherapy as well as keep things fresh as you breathe. It also works as a fan to move around the hot air.
  • While it’s extremely important to hydrate before going into a Oaxaca temazcal ceremony, you will often be served hot herbal tea or water while inside.
  • Some temazcaleros will ask everyone to share what brings them to the temazcal ceremony. I recommend thinking about this ahead of time whether it’s present in your Oaxaca temazcal ceremony or not. It helps to set your intention for a deeper temazcal ceremony.
  • My favorite temazcal ceremonies in Oaxaca involve a lot of singing. If you ask my friend, this is not traditional. But for me it’s vital. Even if you don’t know the words I recommend humming or chanting along to help you feel more connected to the group and the experience.

I’ve detailed my favorite temazcal ceremonies in Oaxaca below, followed by tips for a Oaxaca temazcal, a list of items to bring, and a few temazcal songs to learn beforehand.

Nabani SPAcio Holistico: Best Temazcal in Oaxaca

📍Map Location 📅Usually on Saturdays, Whatsapp to Inquire
🗣️English and Spanish ✅ Transportation and Light Meal Included

Raquel burns copal and passes it near the body of a woman to cleanse her spirit at the start the temazcal ceremony in Oaxaca.

I often speak of Nabani as the best temazcal in Oaxaca.

It’s not just the temazcal ceremony itself that makes it one of my favorites. It’s the energy of Raquel and her husband Julio.

It’s the calming space they have created at Nabani SPAcio Holistico. A space that is teeming with life from the citrus trees, pomegranates, and flowers that keep the birds, bees, and butterflies happy.

It’s the deeply spiritual singing led by Raquel and Julio during the temazcal ceremony.

It’s the feeling of family as you come together for a light meal after connecting with each other during the temazcal ceremony. 

Raquel and Julio have curated a full experience featuring their Oaxaca temazcal ceremony.

A Oaxacan woman wearing traditional clothing and jewelry holds a stack of cards during a reading to start a temazcal ceremony.

My Temazcal Experience at Nabani SPAcio Holistico

As we enter the property of Nabani SPAcio Holistico, a path leads us past the raging fire built to heat the volcanic rocks, through the garden, and to a table under the roof of a covered structure.

Standing at the head of the table is a beautiful Oaxacan woman dressed in traditional clothing. Raquel’s energy radiates and I feel drawn to her.

Looking over her shoulder, a woman holds a card during a card reading before a temazcal ceremony.

As she explains the origins and purpose of the Oaxaca temazcal ceremony we are about to experience, she passes around various essential oils to apply. It’s a combination to help cleanse, calm, and open respiratory passages.

Raquel then gives an individualized card reading to each person in the room before instructing everyone to create a bouquet of herbs to bring into the temazcal.

To start this Oaxaca temazcal, several people stand in a circle while honoring the four elements. Within the circle, Julio blows through a conch shell towards the sky.

To start the temazcal ceremony, we gather in a circle to connect with the four elements of earth, fire, air, and water.

There is a lot of intention present in this part of the ritual which is another testament to how incredible this Oaxaca temazcal ceremony is.

Once everyone is settled, we start to sing, “Bienvenida, bienvenida, bienvenida a las abuelas,” (Welcome to the grandmothers) as the hot rocks are brought into the temazcal one by one.

The temazcal ceremony continues with more singing and sweating as the heat intensifies.

Raquel checks in with each of us and asks us our intention during this Oaxaca temazcal ceremony, all of which brings us together as a group.

One of my favorite temazcal songs. Continue reading to learn more songs to sing.

Ya^a Temazcal in Teotitlan de Valle

📍Map Location 📅Appointment by Whatsapp 🗣️Spanish with English by Request ✅ Cacao Experience and Meal Included

Carlos and Luci are perhaps best known for their incredible massages at their spa in Oaxaca Centro. And their traditional temazcal ceremony located in Teotitlan de Valle is a project that radiates from their hearts.

Located at their family home, they have created an experience that incorporates their Zapotec traditions. This Oaxaca temazcal ceremony proved to be one my mother will never forget.

For the start of a Oaxaca temazcal, several items and flowers are thoughtfully placed on a colorful round rug as an offering to the spirits.

My Experience At Ya^a Temazcal

When we arrive, we are greeted by Luci’s mother who welcomes us to go to the back of the property where Luci is roasting cacao beans over a fire. 

We then sit together, peeling the cacao beans when her 93 year old grandmother joins us at the table. We learn that she is also a massage therapist. It’s clear she passed on her warm spirit and Zapotec healing techniques to her granddaughter, Luci.

An overhead view of the grandmother grinding cacao on a stone metate before a Oaxaca temazcal ceremony.

After the cacao beans are peeled, she demonstrates grinding the beans into a paste on a stone metate. Each of us takes turns turning the cacao beans into what will become an exfoliating sugar scrub for use inside the temazcal.

We prepare for the temazcal ceremony by giving gratitude to the 7 elements (additions include the sky and our hearts). 

Inside, Carlos kicks up the heat by throwing water on the hot volcanic rocks. As steam fills the temazcal, he plays the drum and sings a couple of songs while asking us to join along. 

We finished our Oaxaca temazcal experience with 90-minute massages following our cool-down time, during which we were wrapped in blankets like a cocoon.

Three plates of corn leaf tamales and cups of herbal tea sit on a table after a temazcal ceremony.

And after, we are joined again by Luci’s grandmother to sip a cup of herbal tea and eat the tamales she’s prepared for us. 

The exceptionally soft tamales are wrapped in corn leaves instead of corn husks or the typical Oaxacan tamales wrapped in banana leaves. 

They explain it’s something you’ll only find in Teotitilan, Oaxaca. It’s another example of how they’ve incorporated their family roots into their traditional temazcal ceremony.

Holistik Temazcal & Masaje in Matatlán, Oaxaca

📍Map Location 📅 Appointment by Whatsapp 🗣️Spanish Only

A round drum and other hand instruments sit on the ground with a pitcher of flowers. On a rug behind are several offerings for a Oaxaca temazcal ceremony.

Holistik Temazcal & Masaje is perched atop a hill with a scenic view overlooking the town of Santiago Matatlán.

This town, located about an hour east of Oaxaca is known as the capital of mezcal. And if your pronunciation isn’t perfect, the word could be confused with temazcal.

I loved this Oaxaca temazcal for the beautiful location and pleasant experience created by Cesar and his mother Lucia.

My Experience At Holistik Temazcal, Oaxaca

When I arrived at Holistik Temazcal y Masaje, Cesar was tending to the fire used to heat the stones for the temazcal. I was surprised by his young appearance but immediately put at ease by his calming presence.

On the ground were large bundles of various herbs and long pieces of aloe leaf that I later learned were harvested from their land. “Mucha medicina,” Cesar told me. 

A young man blows smoke from a clay container of burning copal as he enters a small temazcal in Oaxaca.

I arrived at this temazcal hoping to recreate the meditative state I had fallen into during a temazcal ceremony in San Jose del Pacifico, Oaxaca.

But the truth was I had been suffering from a lingering sinus infection and mucha medicina was exactly what I needed in that moment. It was at that moment that I realized each temazcal provides exactly what you need at the time.

“Every temazcal ceremony is different. Each temazcal provides what you need at the time, even if you have yet to discover exactly what that is yourself.”

– julien Casanova, Author and Temazcal aficionado

There were only two of us plus Cesar participating in the temazcal that day. We began with the ritual ceremony towards the four directions. Then we were each given a bundle of herbs and blessed by his mother, Lucia, upon entering the temazcal.

This temazcal ceremony was focused on giving thanks. Muchas gracias del temazcal, de la tierra, y de los abuelos. Inside Cesar led us in songs about the earth, ancestors, and receiving la medicina. 

And the bundle of herbs played an integral part in this temazcal ceremony. We swung the herbs around to circulate the steam. 

We dunked them in the hot water and placed them on our body wherever it was most needed. And at the end, we used them on our feet along with slightly cooled stones.

Ceviarem Temazcal Oaxaca

📍Map Location 📅 By Appointment FB 🗣️English and Spanish

Ceviarem Temazcal is often regarded as one of the best temazcals in Oaxaca and bonus, English is spoken.

I enjoyed the temazcal ceremony at Ceviarem in Oaxaca. Although as you may have guessed, it was quite different from any Oaxaca temazcal I had experienced.

My Experience At Ceviarem Temazcal Oaxaca

At Ceviarem Temazcal Oaxaca, the temazcalera started by explaining that we have three elements within us, each of which has a door.

The emotional door is at the chest, the physical at the stomach, and the energetic at the back of the neck.

And it was then that I realized this temazcal was also going to go deep into my emotional state, but in a very different way. 

“Who wants to work?” she said. Those who agreed were instructed to always keep a rock in one of their hands. 

She explained that we should feel weighed down by the rock. “Remember a trauma or a bad experience and breathe it into rock,” she continued.

Instead of herbs, we were given different types of plant-based medicine – aloe leaf, nopal cactus, guava fruit, chocolate, and honey to name a few. All elements from the earth but different nonetheless.

Throughout different parts of the temazcal ceremony, we spread the different ingredients over our bodies. She explained they would help to renew our skin as we sat in the temazcal allowing the steam to penetrate our senses.

We were encouraged to stay in the moment by observing. Observe without thinking since with thoughts you lose the moment.

Eventually, we left the rock behind, but everyone was given the opportunity to take it with them if they weren’t ready to release their personal trauma.

And we finished this temazcal by using a large vat of tea infused with herbs to bathe our bodies.

While I missed the singing, it was an enjoyable experience. In fact, in reading reviews, you’ll find this is the best temazcal in Oaxaca for many people. And each experience is tailored to the participants.

The opening to the best temazcal in Oaxaca while in front, a fire heats the stones used during the ceremony. A black bucket of water sits in front.

Tips For a Traditional Temazcal Ceremony in Oaxaca

  1. Go in with an open mind so that you’re more accepting to receive what’s given during the temazcal ceremony.
  2. Make sure to hydrate in the days leading up to the temazcal ceremony. I prefer not to drink any alcohol one or two days before.
  3. Do not eat a heavy meal before a temazcal ceremony. I prefer to eat fruit as a light meal an hour or more before entering the temazcal.
  4. If the heat of the temazcal becomes too intense, lay down. Heat rises, so you’ll find the coolest areas near the floor.
  5. Sing, chant, or hum along to the songs played during the temazcal ceremony. This will help you feel more spiritually connected and take your mind off of the heat.
  6. During the temazcal ceremony, try to go inside yourself or go into a meditative state. Allow the beat of the drum to get into your body, heart, and soul.

What to Bring to a Oaxaca Temazcal

Keep in mind, the items you bring inside the temazcal may become wet or stained depending on what is used inside. 

I’ve experienced everything from exfoliating with cacao or coffee to hydrating with aloe vera. Usually, the ingredients come out of my clothing, but it’s something to keep in mind.

  • Bathing Suit – While I prefer not to wear anything inside a temazcal, sometimes it’s most appropriate to wear a bathing suit during the temazcal ceremony.
  • Hair Tie or Wrap – Those with long hair will want something to pull the hair back or a cloth wrap to help with the sweat.
  • Towel or Sarong – You may want to bring two – one for during and one for after. Sometimes the floor isn’t comfortable to sit on directly. When you exit the temazcal, you’ll want something clean to wrap around your body.
  • Flip Flops – While I don’t find flip flops or slip-on sandals to be a necessity, depending on the ground cover, they can be comfortable when exiting the temazcal.
  • Change of clothes – I often find I want more comfortable clothes to wear after the temazcal than what I arrived in.

Songs to Learn for a Temazcal Ceremony

Just as every Oaxaca temazcal is different, so are the songs and the amount of singing involved. 

If you don’t know the words, I recommend humming or chanting to feel more connected to the temazcal ceremony. It will also help you to take your mind off of the heat.

I’ve included some of my favorite temazcal ceremony songs with their basic lyrics below so that you can become familiar with them. You can also search your favorite music app for “cantos temazcal.”

  1. Los Cuatro Elementos (The Four Elements)

This is my favorite temazcal song, possibly because the tune and words are easy to remember.

“Tierra mi cuerpo. Agua mi sangre. Aire (Viento) mi aliento. Y fuego mi espíritu.”

“Earth my body. Water my blood. Air (Wind) my breath. And fire my spirit.”

  1. Tamborcito Ayudame A Cantar (Little Drum, Help Me Sing)

“Tamborcito, tamborcito, ayúdame a cantar. Para que salga la voz. Y llegue a donde tenga que llegar. Al corazón de mi hermano. Al corazón de mi hermana. Al corazón de este aire. Al corazón, al corazón.”

“Little drum, little drum, help me sing. For the voice to come out. And get where you have to go. To my brother’s heart. To my sister’s heart. To the heart of this air. To the heart, to the heart.”

  1. Agua Vital (Vital Water)

“Agua vital, purificame. Fuego del amor, llévame hasta el sol. Viento del alma, llévame a al altar Madre Tierra. Vuelvo a tu hogar en el temazcal.”

“Vital water, purify me. Fire of love, take me to the sun. Wind of the soul, take me to the altar Mother Earth. I return to your home In the temazcal.”

  1. En Espiral Hacia el Centro (Spiral to the Center)

“En espiral hacia el centro, al centro del corazón. Soy el tejido, soy el tejedor. Soy el sueño y el soñador.”

“Spiral to the center, to the center of the heart. I am the weave, I am the weaver. I am the dream and the dreamer.”

Bonus: Learn How to Create Your Own Temazcal Ceremony with Raquel and Julio

Raquel and Julio don’t just host my favorite temazcal in Oaxaca. They also train others to become a temazcalero. At the end of the training, you’ll know how to create your own temazcal ceremony.

The workshop in Oaxaca City is held over a period of five months and is best for Spanish speakers. However, they have created an intensive, bilingual workshop at their property in the mountains north of Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. 

Over the course of five days, Raquel and Julio share their knowledge of the temazcal ceremonies so that their students can share this therapy at home while supporting the healing of others.

The tuition fee includes meals and lodging at Rancho El Sagrado (The Sacred Ranch). The ranch is incredibly peaceful and full of tropical vegetation, coffee plants, and fruit trees.

Staying in the cabins gives you an opportunity to wake up to the sound of birds and breathe the pure air of the Oaxacan mountains. You can find out more about the temazcalero workshop on their website.