What is it about Yoni steaming that captures so many women’s interest? This ancient tradition has been lost to us, here in the West, for Goddess only knows how long, and now it’s time to rediscover, reclaim and re-emerge.
So let’s cover the basics first. Yoni steaming, or vaginal steaming as it’s sometimes called, is a self care practice where you sit over a bowl of steaming herbs. Let me say at this point, that yoni steaming is in no way about cleansing in the hygiene sense of the word, your vagina does this perfectly and naturally without the need of douches or detergents. No, when I talk about the cleansing actions of yoni steaming, I am referring to the energetical cleansing and the herbal actions on the bodies tissues. The combination of heat and herbs is incredibly healing for the whole of your reproductive area, and can be used to treat a range of physical symptoms, including menstrual pain and irregular periods, fibroids, yeast infections, fertility issues, post natal healing and scarring, and menopausal symptoms. In addition to this, yoni steaming is an excellent and effective way of releasing emotional blocks and trauma.
The use of heat in the yoni steaming is an important factor here. The uterus is supported in the pelvis by 6 pairs of ligaments and muscles, which can become sluggish, over stretched or over contracted as a result of falls or injury to the sacrum, pregnancy, birth and poor post natal care, or bad posture. When the womb is misaligned, she can put pressure on the bladder, bowel, lymph and circulatory systems, causing congestion and associated problems. Heat attracts blood flow to any areas where it is applied. The increased blood flow to the yoni brings nutrients and oxygen to feed and nourish the tissues, and carry away toxins. In some traditions, like in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan, they use smoke instead of steam, and is used as part of their traditions for preparing a woman for married life.
Herbs have been used for healing and health since the beginning of time, and you don’t have to go far from your door to find them. In fact, it has been said many times that the herbs you need will be growing in your local area. In Mizan Therapy, we use many different herbs. The Steam Clean blend from Mizan Botanicals is a gentle mix of flowers suitable for general steaming, but you can work very specifically with choosen herbs if you wish. One of my favourite things to do is to walk out into my garden or along by the river near where I live, and see what plants “call” to me. Recently I have been attracted by the White Dead Nettle which grows abundantly down by the river. As I didn’t know much about this particular herb, I did a little research, and found that it has traditionally been used as a “woman’s herb”. An effective uterine tonic that is dedicated to the Archangel Michael, who is called upon to use his mighty sword to cut the emotional cords that keep us stuck in situations and old patterns and behaviours that no longer serve us.
I feel like I could write a whole other blog just on the herbs that can be used as there are so many, but to start you off I will list a few of my favourites here: Red Clover (to balance hormones), Raspberry Leaf (uterine tonic), Rose petals (for the heart), Calendula (healing to the tissues), Mugwort (uterine tonic and emmenagogue), Chamomile (nervine relaxant) and Motherwort (hormone balancer). If in any doubt, check in with your Mizan Therapist or a medical herbalist.
The herbs enter your blood stream through the porous and absorbing tissues of your vulva and vagina, bringing healing to your reproductive system, and as a secondary reaction, your urinary and digestive systems too. For me, it is the soothing effect that yoni steaming has on my nervous system which brings me such joy. I have often referred to yoni steaming as like having a big hug, warm and comforting. There is some science behind this too. There are many nerves in the pelvis, one of them being the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body, running from your brain to your pelvis and has many, many essential functions. It has recently been discovered that the vagus nerve is connected to the cervix and has a vital role to play in both orgasm and childbirth. Steaming with herbs that have nervine relaxant properties, such as, lavender or chamomile, help to calm and regulate your nervous system.
When is the best time to steam?
Well this is going to depend on your intention behind doing the steam. For many women, steaming is a part of their monthly self care, and they will steam to help regulate their menstrual cycle. In this case steaming in the days coming up to your bleed will help to tone the uterus, supporting her to fully shed her lining. On an emotional level, steaming just before your bleed will also support you to release feelings or behaviours that are no longer serving you, and making that transition into your reflective moon time. Steaming for emotional release can be done at any time, I will often steam on the dark moon, for example. It is recommended that even post menopausal women steam, ideally twice a year around the spring and autumn equinoxes, as part of their self care. For new mothers, yoni steaming is a wonderful part of post natal care. After giving birth, our wombs are empty of the heat the baby was producing and open to the cold, which can bring a host of problems later on if not dealt with. Steaming reintroduces warmth to the area, as well as nourishing the over stretched ligaments, aiding them to back into their correct place to fully support the womb and avoid prolapse.
When should I not steam?
If you are actively preparing for pregnancy, do not steam between ovulation and menstruation. If you have not conceived that month, then you can steam on the first day of your period. Never steam during pregnancy.
How do I do a yoni steam?
So this is the big question, How do I do it?
Two large handfuls of fresh herbs, or if you are using dried herbs, just one handful. Put the herbs into a large pan of boiling water. Boil fresh herbs for 10 minutes, dried herbs for 20 minutes. Leave for five minutes with a lid on the pan. Transfer the steaming water and herbs into a bowl (glass, ceramic, or metal, but never plastic). This bowl can be dropped into the toilet bowl and sat over, or placed on the floor so you can knee over it and lean over a chair or the bed. I have an old fashioned commode with an enamel bowl that I use. What is important, is that you find a comfortable position to be in and somewhere you won’t be disturbed for at least half an hour. Take your underwear off, but make sure you wear socks / slippers and arrange yourself over the bowl, draping a heavy towel or a blanket around your waist to trap the steam in. Be careful not to allow any drafts in, so make sure the blanket goes all around and reaches to the floor. Don’t get cold from the waist up either! Remain sitting over the steam for around 20 minutes. The heat should feel pleasant. If it is too hot you will scald yourself, wait for a few minutes to allow it to cool a little and try again. Rest quietly after the herbal steam in a warm room free from drafts. It is best to go to bed for at least an hour afterwards. Take care for the next 24 hours to protect yourself from cold drafts, keep warm and avoid sudden temperature changes. You may see a difference in your next menstruation, for example, it may be lighter, heavier, or have “bits’ in it, this is to be expected, but if you have any concerns then contact your Mizan Therapist.