Updated: May 12, 2021
Recentering the woman is the call of the time. A woman’s act of self-love creates a glow in her life and her household. Self love is the act of self care, it is how we stay rooted to self (and thus to spirit) in a whole and deep way.
Yoni steaming has been traditionally practiced for centuries. It’s recorded throughout Mayan culture, passed down by midwives and healers, for women after childbirth or miscarriage to encourage the healing features of the herbs used to pass into the bloodstream through the vagina. Presently used primarily through Africa and Asia and reported practiced in 28 countries around the world with a growing practice in the United States.
Women’s stories are evidence.
The internet has a lot to say about the risks and harms of yoni steaming and most medical sources denounce it, citing that there is no evidence of any benefits but there is evidence of negative drawbacks, mostly burns from too hot of steam. I am skeptical of these opinions because they are rooted in the patriarchal lineage of modern medicine that systematically denounces folk medicine and disregards female bodies.
Kelly Garza of Steamy Chick is collecting data over thousands of menstrual cycles of women practicing yoni steaming.
Women repeatedly report ‘signs of old residue (namely black or brown menstrual blood, clots or cramps)’ with steaming and there is a high correlation between old residue and menstrual pain, endometriosis and infertility. Steaming helps clear old residue and encourages timely menstrual cycles and signs of fresh, red blood.
Read more of her research here or listen to her explain it all on this podcast. Why don’t we count the anecdotal accounts of thousands of women across multiple cultures as evidence?! Will there only be ‘evidence’ to support yoni steaming by the medical community when they swab enough vaginas to find a measurable change in something? Women’s stories are evidence.
So with that, I introduce you to Yoni Steaming.
Here's the how to:
Steep various herbs in boiled water for 10 minutes. Create a comfortable way to sit or squat over your pot of steamy infused herbal water. You use a special seat or box designed for yoni steaming, you can place a pot inside a bucket, or you can simply find a position on your knees where you can lean back over the pot. Women wear a big skirt or wrap from waist down in a blanket to keep the warm inside. Socks are great to wear for the same reason. Be comfortable over the steam for 15-20 minutes and of course, use your common sense and don’t burn yourself. If it's too hot, wait for sometime or open up your blanket tent.
Steam as an act of love.
This is an act of self-care. For many women, this is a healer. The anecdotal evidence speaks for itself. When are we going to start trusting women’s stories? When do we take our power back and trust our intuition and our own bodily experience? If we strip away all the physiological evidence for the benefits (or harms) of yoni steaming, what remains is still a pleasurable experience of self-care for a woman. It is a container, a period of time, for a woman to connect with and honor her body, breath deeply, be with her thoughts, to write and create or to cry and feel.
For me, yoni steaming is a ritual act of self care each month after my cycle. With a garden full of perennial tulsi, lemon balm, mint and sage, the picking of leaves and flowers is itself a sacred communal with our Mamma Earth. I encourage all of you women to give it a try (except those that are pregnant or have an infection) and gift yourself this time for this healing and pleasurable tradition. Great tutorials to get started are with Veladya Chapman, found here.
Steam on my ladies! And take care of yourself the way that feels right for your body; let’s trust ourselves and our intuition and prioritize our care. Only when our fire burn steadily within do we have the light to shine on others.
More on herbs:
From my knowledge, culinary herbs are always a go and don't have strong counter indications. Meaning mint, lemon balm, oregano, sage, thyme, tulsi and lavendar. Steam alone is also completely safe - meaning just the water! Another safe bet is water with 1 tsp of natural vinegar like apple cider vinegar or kombucha vinegar.
Other herbs such as rose, mugwort, nettle, motherwort, yarrow and calendula are more powerful and might be counter-indicative to your particular cycle. There are many wise women you can consult on this and you can order specific herb blends online that address your specific isssues, ie: short cycle (26 days or less), long cycles (31 days +), irregular cycles, endo, fibroids, PCOS.
Information on herbs from Sacred Lotus Yoni Steam.
When to steam:
For starters, our wombs are as unique as our fingerprints, so there is no one-size-fits-all model.
The following info I am sharing is what I have learned from a dear teacher and mentor, Helen Zee, based out of Australia. She takes private clients and helps women across the menstrual / reproductive health gamet. Find her here.
For general health, steaming should happen just before and just after your bleed. This is when your cervix is most open and thus the steam and herbal medicine will be optimised.
Women with regular cycles (27-31 days) and long cycles (31+ day) can steam on days 22, 23, 24 and then again after their period has stopped completely, for another 3 days.
Steaming for 15-20 minutes is a really safe zone. Do not steam longer than 20/25 minutes unless a wise woman has specifically guided you to do so based on your specific cycles/needs.
When NOT to steam:
Don't steam if you are pregnant or trying to conceive and its post ovulation.
Don't steam if you have any kind of infection or fever.
Don't steam for longer than 10-15 minutes if you have an IUD.
Never steam when you are bleeding or spotting.