Spring Clean Your Body and Mind With These 6 Mayan-Inspired Rituals in Mexico

Enjoy a physical and mental reset inspired by indigenous practices.

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Spring has arrived, and with the new season comes the desire to reset and refresh—after all, it’s called spring cleaning for a reason. While most people think of this seasonal shift as a time to declutter your home and reorganize your wardrobe, it’s also a great moment to rejuvenate the body and mind

When it comes to physical and mental well-being, the Mayans pioneered the concept of holistic wellness thousands of years ago, and continue to influence practices, particularly in the Yucatán Peninsula, their ancestral home in Mexico. Today, many hotels in the region pay homage to the local indigenous culture in a variety of ceremonies and spa treatments renowned for their energizing and renewing qualities. These treatments are administered by practitioners deeply educated in Mayan practices and ancestral medicine, using local ingredients from one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. If you’re yearning for a physical and mental reset, try one of these six Mayan-inspired rituals.

Ya’axche Forest Awakening Ritual at Chablé Maroma

  • Camino predio Punta Maroma Mz 002 Lote 006, 77710 Punta Maroma, Q.R

This 180-minute treatment takes place in Chablé Maroma’s expansive spa, and features a copal ritual (a sacred incense burned for its cleansing and healing properties), followed by an aromatic salt and rosemary exfoliation, then an herbal bath. Once the exfoliation and bathing component of the treatment is over, there’s a deep tissue and scalp massage. “We close with the opening of the third eye, promoting the awakening of the being,” spa director Nora Orozco tells Observer. Ya’axche means “Ceiba” in the Mayan language, and the Ceiba tree is considered the tree of life in Mayan culture. The therapists at Chablé Maroma have learned about ancestral Mayan medicine and ceremonies from the “Abuela Maya” (Mayan Grandma), who visits the hotel periodically. Mayan wisdom passes from generation to generation, and Abuela Maya received this knowledge from the x’men, the spiritual leaders of her community. The Ya’axche Forest Awakening Ritual provides intuitive clarity and is suited for those who are mentally exhausted—whether that be from hectic work schedules, busy family life or the pressures of modern life. 

Ya’axche Forest Awakening Ritual at Chablé Maroma. Chablé Maroma

Temazcal at Maroma, a Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya

  • Carr. Cancún - Tulum Km 51, 77710 Riviera Maya, Q.R. 

Temazcal dates back to pre-Hispanic times, and holds special importance in Mayan culture, as the ritual symbolizes the mother’s womb and a form of rebirth. Guests at Belmond experience this ceremony under the guidance of a shaman who starts the process by sounding a conch shell and asking permission from the universe to carry out the ritual. Participants are seated in the dome-shaped Temazcal structure which is first cleansed by copal, followed by heated volcanic stones being added four times in separate sessions or “doors,” each with their own meaning and dedication. As the temperature rises in the largely enclosed space, the shaman douses the incandescent stones in healing herbal water using chamomile, rue, rosemary and salva to produce steam. The ceremony reaches its peak when the fourth door has passed, after which participants leave the room experiencing the sensation of being “reborn” again. Guests are invited to take a dip in the sea, where the fresh water and infinite horizon further refresh and purify their senses. Because of the hot sensation and close quarters of Temazcal, this ritual is not suited to children, pregnant people or those with claustrophobia.

Temazcal at Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya. Belmond

Cacao Ceremony at Ser Casasandra

  • Calle Igualdad costado, 77310 Holbox, Q.R., Mexico

In Mayan culture, cacao is seen as a gift from the gods, and more specifically, the creator god Quetzalcoatl. Cacao was consumed during religious ceremonies, marriage festivities and important rituals, and at Ser Casasandra on Isla Holbox, guests can enjoy this celebratory elixir as part of a sacred gathering. Like the aforementioned Forest Awakening Ritual and Temazcal, the ritual is led by a healer and begins with a copal cleansing. A group meditation ensues, creating an open and harmonious space which is followed by drinking cacao in its original form, which has a bitter note and mood-boosting qualities. “Cacao is known for its stimulating properties and ability to open the heart chakra, leading to an increased sense of love and empathy,” Luchi Bogner, a therapist at Ser Casasandra, tells Observer. “Some individuals may also experience an emotional release or personal revelations.” Whether you simply want to experience the ancestral tradition of cacao or deepen your self-awareness, a cacao ceremony is a memorable Mayan-inspired ritual.

Cacao Ceremony at Ser Casasandra. Ser Casasandra

Xunan Kab at St. Regis Kanai Riviera Maya

  • Paseo Kanai 15, Solidaridad, 77730 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

Honey is popular throughout the world for its sweet taste, but in Mayan culture, honey has medicinal status, and is used to cure everything from eye conditions to burns to digestive diseases. The Yucatán Peninsula is home to Melipona honey, a unique honey produced by stingless bees, which has a more liquid texture, more acidic flavor and significantly higher antioxidant composition than other types of honey. At the brand-new St. Regis Kanai Riviera Maya, guests can nourish and refresh their skin with a Melipona honey treatment called Xunan Kab. During the treatment, a therapist trained in Mayan botanic and healing traditions administers a full-body coconut and honey scrub and body mask to leave your skin soft and supple using one of Mayans’ most beloved ingredients.


Mayan Calendar Reading at Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection

  • Paseo Kanai 16, 77730 Q.R., Mexico

A Mayan astrology reading can be an introspective tool for self-knowledge and decision-making in life. During a session at Etéreo, an astrologer will give an introduction to Mayan astrology, and explain the Mayan vision of time and cycles and the importance of their sky observations. Guests provide their birth date, which allows the astrologer to calculate the kin (sign) and gives the participant insight into their Mayan sign. The Mayan solar calendar is one of the most accurate calendars ever invented, even when compared to the standard (Gregorian) calendar in use today. “Through Etéreo’s experience, we are helping to keep an ancient ritual alive that is closely tied to the history and culture of our location,” says Juan Bernardo Becerril, the hotel’s experience curator. “The shamans and astrologers who perform the reading are often the recipients of the knowledge passed on by their teachers and ancestors.” The reading is popular among all guests, but especially among honeymooners and babymooners, who seek out this session to find out more about how their signs can live together harmoniously or their baby’s potential life path.

Mayan Calendar Reading at Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection. MIGUEL JUAREZ

Kuxtal Sensory Garden Ritual at Rosewood Mayakoba

  • Ctra. Federal Cancún-Playa del Carmen Km 298, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

Named after the Mayan word for life, the Kuxtal Sensory Garden Ritual is a full-body sensorial experience that pays homage to the ancient Yucatan Mayan connection with all living forms, including plants. During the ritual, guests intuitively choose a selection of herbs and plants that call out to them, followed by the practitioner interpreting the meaning behind their selections. The practitioner consults with a Mayan medicine book with notes on various plants, and invites the guests to discuss their choices within the context of their known healing properties. The conversation is educational but also introspective for the participant, and ends with the guest receiving an oil blend of the plants discussed. Guests leave with an appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of the Yucatán, which they can take home and enjoy long after they leave.

Kuxtal Sensory Garden Ritual at Rosewood Mayakoba. Rosewood Mayakoba

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