Two years ago I posted on my Instagram this photo and the caption read:
“Oh this sacred stage of womanhood!
Two rituals are taking place here. Both which deeply anchor me into my feminine center. This past year has brought me so much love and awareness of my feminine body.
Heat and steam supports, cleanses, and nourishes the feminine body. I practice yoni steaming for the health benefits and also out of admiration and respect for my womanly body.
Here I am nourishing my feminine center. Here I am nourishing the growing life in my lap. My energy is flowing. My chakras are balanced. LIFE IS INVIGORATING.
To me this photo symbolizes blissfulness and so much feminine power.”
If you didn’t read the caption, you may have scrolled past thinking that I was for some reason sitting naked on a chair, breastfeeding my son. But if you did take a moment to read it, then you would have seen that I was practicing something called yoni steaming.
WHAT IS YONI STEAMING?
Yoni is a Sanskrit word meaning “vagina,” “womb,” “goddess” or “origin of life”. Yoni steaming is also referred to as a banjo treatment, vaginal steaming, or V-steam. The general idea is a woman sits on some type of chair or stool with a hole so that an herbal steam from underneath can reach her vulva.
The warmth and moisture from the steam increases circulation in the vulva and exposes the inner labial mucus membranes. These tissues are very porous and absorbent, thus allowing the bloodstream to pick up the medicinal oils from the herbs and carry them into the inner reproductive system, such as the vagina, cervix, and uterus.
While it is true that your uterus and vagina are self-cleaning organs, yoni steaming is a natural way to support your body and optimize it’s functions. Today, many women are discovering this practice and using it both for medical treatment and as part of their spiritual practices. But yoni steaming is a tradition that has been used around the world for centuries.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF YONI STEAMING?
- Reduce cramps and bloating associated with menstruation
- Regulate menstrual flow and reduce dark blood at the beginning/ end of your period
- Regulate irregular periods
- Expedite recovery and healing after birth–tone reproductive system and heal from vaginal tears or episiotomy. Encourages tissue to tighten.
- Help heal chronic vaginal infections–yeast, BV, HPV, cervical dysplasia, herpes, or UTI
- Ease symptoms of dryness or painful intercourse
- Help heal reproductive system following miscarriage
- Help with fertility issues
- Treat ovarian cysts, fibroids, and uterine prolapse
- Help treat endometriosis
- Help heal hemorrhoids
- Help establish and maintain a healthy vaginal odor
- Detoxifies the womb and remove toxins
- Spiritual support and release of stored emotions
Many reproductive issues arise due to an excess “build up” of uterine lining that does not get completely shed in previous cycles and accumulates inside of the uterus. This material begins to build up over time, which may cause painful periods, issues with eggs implanting, and other gynecological issues. Steaming helps the uterus cleanse and release this build-up.
On the physical level, yoni steaming increases circulation and increases lubrication, which can help increase libido and makes sex more comfortable.
Ideally you will get the best treatment if your yoni steaming is facilitated by a trained certified vaginal steam professional. The steam sessions can be done conveniently inside your own home, but it is best to talk to a professional regarding which blend of herbs will work best for you. They will also be able to instruct you on how long your steam sessions should last and how often you should steam. This will be different for each individual.
I found a vaginal steam practitioner online who attracted my attention because of her Chinese medicine background and approach to treatment. The steams I purchased off of her website consist of the roots, fruits, leaves, and barks, and is sourced from organic or wildcrafted herbs. The herbs are inside a large size tea bag, and can be reused 3 times as long as they are refrigerated in an air tight container between uses. She provided a screening via email, which was not necessary, but recommended to do before purchasing. This allowed us to discuss my symptoms and determine which herbal blend would be best for my treatment. You may also find online that many doulas and midwives may encourage and facilitate yoni steaming as part of their postpartum care. Many of them are very educated on steaming and have a lot of experience working with women, so that is another avenue where you can look for someone with yoni steaming expertise.
You should not steam during menstruation, while pregnant, or if there is any possibility of pregnancy, after ovulation if you are trying to conceive, or if you have an IUD.
Because all herbs have different qualities it is important to work with a professional to find a steam blend that will treat your symptoms. For example, some herbs are drying and some are moisturizing, and some can shorten cycles, while others can lengthen it. Below are some properties of various herbs:
Cleansing herbs: Basil, Calendula, Milk Thistle, Motherwort, and Rose
Blood replenishing herbs: Motherwort, Nettles, Oatstraw, Parsley, Raspberry leaf
Hydrating herbs: Hibiscus, Lemon Balm, Nettles, Oatstraw, Red Clover
Disinfecting herbs: Lavender, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme
Blood decreasing herbs: Guava leaf, Lady’s Mantle, Mugwort, Shepherd’s Purse, Yarrow
Uterus strengthening herbs: Ashwaganda, Astragalus, Ginseng, Rosemary, Yarrow
Over the past couple of years I have used yoni steaming to successfully treat a wide array of gynecological issues: yeast infections, abnormal pap smears (cervical dysplasia), cervical erosion (also known as cervical ectropion), and a swollen Bartholin gland. I steamed daily for 2 months (under the direction of a vaginal steam practitioner) when treating the cervical dysplasia. My 3 month follow up pap smear was normal, and it still was at the appointment a year later. I also have adenomyosis (a sister to endometrosis), and find that monthly maintenance steaming greatly helps keep the pain and cramps minimal. I aim (ideally) to steam once before and once after my period ends, but at minimum I do it once monthly after my period ends.
MY YONI STEAMING SETUP
There are many beautiful yoni steam chairs that you can buy online. I chose to go a different route, and make my own yoni chair from an old chair because I was on a tight budget. If you are into DIY projects, it would be a relatively easy project to tackle. Recently I discovered a folding toilet chair designed for camping on Amazon (take a look here). If I had found this at the time, this is probably what I would have chosen to use. I like that it folds for easy storage and that the seat material is easy to wipe off and disinfect. If you choose a yoni steam chair that has a seat that isn’t easily cleaned, I would suggest to use it after showering. I also recommend the Force of Nature spray for a non-toxic way to disinfect surfaces. It works as well as bleach, and can be found on my list of Well Nut Must-Haves! Do not purchase the yoni steam apparatuses that attach to the toilet. This is not a sanitary, and advised against by yoni steam professionals. You may choose to use a pot to boil your water, which is just fine. I decided to purchase an electric tea kettle, which I use only for steaming purposes. I keep my herbs, homemade chair, tea kettle, and a jug of distilled water in our master bathroom closet. When I steam, I like to do so at night after a shower and before I go to bed. It is convenient for me this way as I do not have to go downstairs to get any of my steam supplies or to boil water. The tea kettle heats up quickly, I let the herbs steep for a short while, and then I open the kettle lid and sit down on my chair. My mom made me a “curtain” to go onto the bottom of the chair and keep the steam from escaping. Alternatively, you can just drape a thick blanket around your bottom half and chair bottom. Try to stay warm while you are steaming. I like to wear my robe, which keeps me warm, but keeps my underneath open and exposed.
Yoni steaming has many physical health benefits, but let us not forget the spiritual, energetic, and emotional benefits that it provides as well. As a woman I would love to see us all learning to LOVE our wombs as the beautiful and sacred vessels that they are. Yoni steaming has helped connect me with my own powerful, feminine energy. May we all reconnect with our feminine center and embrace our inner woman!