Temazcal - Family Ceremonies

Nurturing Traditions works with the Temazcal/'Sweatlodge,’ to support and honor the various stages, transitions and healings of human life. This ceremonial structure has a long historical tradition in: North, Central and South America, much of Europe, Russia, Africa, Japan, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Nurturing Traditions works with the Temazcal—the name coming from Temazcalli, of the Nahuatl language of the Anahuaca culture of Mexico—“temaz” meaning “bath” and “calli” meaning “house.”

In entering the Temazcal, we enter the womb of Mother Earth. Within this womb, life-giving qualities are exalted, protected and nourished, and that which no longer serves us is shed.

The Temazcal has been used by the people of Mexico since time immemorial for many aspects of life—and especially for individual and family health and well-being. The Temazcal supports physical revitalization, spiritual renewal and purification of the mind, soul and spirit. The Temazcal supports our connection and relationship with the elements—it is a space to connect with the sacred, putting our lives in perspective and helping us to prioritize accordingly. The Temazcal serves to awaken our own blood-line memories; we remember the wisdom of our particular ancestral lineage. The Temazcal is a place where we reclaim our universal, unifying human culture.

The induced heat of the Temazcal dilates capillaries, which increases blood flow to the skin. The heart beats faster and impurities in vital organs are flushed out by the flow of fluids. This great internal movement of energy and fluids stimulates the circulation of blood and activates the lymphatic and hormonal systems, encouraging balance and repair to the whole system and its thermal homeostasis. The Temazcal also releases negative ions into the air, which help to boost energy, alleviate depression and relieve stress. Negative ions are molecules that have gained or lost an electrical charge and are created through air molecules breaking apart— in the case of the Temazcal, through moving air and water. Once the negative ions reach the bloodstream, they produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood-enhancing chemical, serotonin.

The Temazcal is also a traditional way of caring for pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. The heat of the Temazcal used for Mothers and families in this way, is not the same heat used in other sweatlodge ceremonies. The Temazcal offers a gentle, supported, intimate space. This space allows women and their partners to connect in deeply with themselves—thus being empowered to take primary responsibility for their own health and well- being during pregnancy and beyond.

The Temazcal and other womb like spaces that are dark, warm and humid are the original physical containers of "Undisturbed Birth.” In such spaces, Mothers have full access to birthing hormones needed for a safe and smooth labor, and babies can be born into environments not so different from the environments in which they came. For labor, the heat of the Temazcal helps the mother to relax, much in the same way warm baths and water do. In the postpartum period, the Temazcal is utilized to warm the body once again—reheating the uterus, which is exposed to cold during labor—helping the body to repair more rapidly and completely.

As a living womb, the Temazcal is a place of creation, of interconnection and of unity. The Temazcal offers us a natural sense of belonging, of coming home, of being embraced; and also a sense of personal responsibility. The Temazcal provides a place where we are held and honored and where we hold and honor. The Temazcal is a space of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual cleansing—preparing the way for new life. This ‘new life,’ might be a newborn baby or it might be walking in the world with a new perspective.

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Supporting information gratefully borrowed from Donna Maria: http://www.the-wood-fairy.com/blog/holistic-benefits-of-the-sweat-lodge