Once considered the norm in many cultures across the globe, vaginal steaming is slowly resurfacing and finding its way into Western women’s self-care practices. Whether it’s used for period cramps, postpartum healing, or as a sacred feminine meditation, yoni steaming is certainly showing itself to be most welcome in women’s homes.
The History of V-Steaming
Known in South America asbajosand in Korea as chai-yok,the cultural history of vaginal steaming actually dates back before the written word. While studying under Aztec and Mayan midwives in the 1500s Spanish friars made note of the vaginal steaming technique. Similar folk practices have been documented in indigenous cultures throughout Asia, Egypt and India.
Taking Care of Our Wombs
When did we forget the importance of looking after our wombs? Over the last two centuries western women and other cultures alike have moved away from our ancient folk practices and put our trust in western medical practices. Sadly the allopathic world has not delivered on the promises it makes to women regarding their sexual health. And in fact it keeps trying to tell us that we don’t need to take care of our own hormone health, nutrition, prenatal health, birth processes or postpartum care, which is clearly not the case at all. Thankfully integrative and functional medical practitioners, midwives and pelvic floor physiotherapists are on our side. Even so it is time for us to start remembering how effective it is when we take care of our own bodies.
Yoni steaming is something simple that every woman can do for herself, plus it is pretty potent in its effectiveness. This soothing and relaxing experience has many health attributes. Traditionally, vaginal steaming is used to increase blood circulation and lymph flow, cleanse out old endometrial tissue, heal vaginal tissue, relax the pelvic-floor muscles and tone the uterus. The fact it supports our physical and emotional health makes it pretty fantastic. And of course you can use it as a womb healing ritual.
Reasons For Vaginal Steaming
Dr Rosita Arvigo, a Mexican naprapathic (hands-on) physician, herbalist and teacher of traditional Mayan medicine explains: “Vaginal steaming in South America is as common as drinking a cup of chamomile tea.” According to Arvigo the tissues of the vagina are exceptionally porous, this allows the warm, herbal steam to absorb into the bloodstream and carry up to the uterus and ovaries.
- Reproductive Disorders – such as PMS, infertility, endometriosis, dysmennorhea, amenorrhea, ovarian cysts, fibroidsand PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) are on the rise. It’s useful to know there is something as easy as vaginal steaming that may well make a difference. More and more women with these disorders are reporting a positive response to steaming.
- Cramps – Many women experience a build-up of stagnant tissue in their uterus, such as unshed endometrial lining. This can easily lead to menstrual cramping. According to an Italian study, dysmenorrhea affects approximately 84% of menstruating women. If you see dark blood at the beginning of your period, this could well be old tissue that did not shed in previous cycles, suggests Avigo. This is dense tissue that is difficult for the uterus to expel and can lead to cramps during menstruation. Steaming with common herbs can be a gentle, yet effective way to encourage a full release of uterine debris. It gently encourages the womb to do a full release leaving the womb clear and free of restriction for the next period. Avigo suggests 3 steams in the week before mensturation with oregano leaves. Expect blood clots! This supports the uterus to function with ease and often relieves discomfort.
- Toning – Sitting for long periods each day diminishes the tone of the uterine muscles and fascia. During pregnancy, the uterus stretches to nine times its size; birth complications and a lack of breastfeeding can prevent the uterus from returning to its normal state and tone. Vaginal steaming is a great way to increase circulation and tone the womb area, which can also help to prevent a prolapsed uterus. Plus, toned wombs can improve orgasms.
- Menopause – is not always a smooth transition; symptoms such as vaginal dryness, discomfort and pain during intercourse can be deeply distressing. Thankfully, this simple practice has been used to relieve these symptoms. Menopausal women have even reported passing clots and dark, thick blood up to a year after menses has ceased.
- Postpartum – Traditional midwives will administer a vaginal steam within nine days of childbirth. For postpartum women, the objective is to encourage a proper release of the uterine membrane and help to clear any lingering haemorrhoids.
- Scar Tissue – Today, surgeries such as caesareans, hysterectomies, episiotomies and laparoscopies have become normal practice in the gynaecological world. Unfortunately, the scar tissue from these procedures can create many problems. The nourishing and healing effects of a vaginal steam can promote proper healing of the damaged tissue. Even if you have a normal, pain-fee cycle, vaginal steaming can still be beneficial, much like steaming one’s face.
- Bacterial Infections – Bacterial vaginosis, cervicitis, vaginitis, trichomoniasis,candida and UTI’s are far too common. Even though one does need to rebalance the microbiome, yoni steaming can certainly help to sooth and shift the symptoms quickly.
- Preventative – Since these conditions are sadly a common occurrence in women’s lives, the reintroduction of this simple, yet effective, healing method could be just what the “internal” doctor ordered.
There are no hard-and-fast rules around the herbs you choose. Typically three to four herbs are formulated in a blend specific to the woman’s unique needs. You can use dry or fresh herbs from the garden or even mix them. Of course, the herbs mustn’t have any toxic elements. In South America, the women traditionally use aromatic herbs for steaming. The following is a list of the most popular varieties:
- , the most popular herb used in South America, can help to bring on menses, increase scanty flow and help old endometrial lining to release properly. This herb is very powerful for cleansing the uterus, especially after birth and if there are strong elements like fibroids, endometriosis and other cysts.. Itis used for its antiseptic, stimulating and strengthening qualities, and to assist in preventing infections.
- (calendula) is often used to promote the healing of wounds and scar tissue, and alleviate fungal and bacterial infections such as candida.
- is known to stimulate the return of absent menstruation, and to reduce cramping.
- is one of the most relaxing herbs, having a calming effect on the mind and body. It nourishes the nervous system and has an antispasmodic effect on the uterus. Plus, lavender is a gentle antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant.
- is antiseptic and purifying. It increases circulation to the reproductive organs and aids in the clearing of old fluids.
- is commonly used in South America to encourage the breakdown of fibroids and polyps.
NOTE: Do not use essential oilsin your v-steam; they are too strong and may aggravate the delicate tissues of the genitals. Rather gather the aromatic herbs that you would use for cooking from the garden.
How To Steam
Find yourself an old low stool or chair and cut a hole in the center (obviously a woven seat is easiest. Get a stainless steel pot and fill with around 1 liter of water. Bring the water to the boil and put a handful of herbs in – steep for 10 minutes as the water begins to cool. Place it under your stool and raise it up a little. Place your hand over the hole at seat height and feel the temperature of the steam, it must be a soothing warm, not too hot and not to cool. Get a nice big blanket and either strip below the waist or your whole body. Sit on the stool and wrap the blanket around your legs or your whole body. It works really nicely if you have a table to lean on during your steam so you can relax your body completely.
For a sacred ritual light a candle, turn the lights down and put on some meditation music. Allow yourself to journey into your womb. What do you see? How does it feel? Anchor a connection with the earth and your higher heart. Call in the energy of the sacred feminine and ask for support cleansing all unconscious energies from your womb. Call in the light of the great mother to nourish your womb space.
Don’t Steam If:
- If you are menstruating
- If you have very heavy menstrual flow
- If you have open wounds, sores or blisters
- If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
- If you have an IUD or Mirena
- If you have a fever or are fighting an infection
- If you have genital piercings, unless you take them out
If you would like to order yoni steaming herbs you can do so through the link on the right hand side of your screen.