First off what is the 'Yoni' ?
Yoni is a Sanskrit term which is symbolic of the Hindu goddess Shakti.
Shakti is a representation of feminine power, and is seen as the divine force and/ or divine mother. In Trantric texts, yoni is used when talking about the source of all life, and there is a sacred mudra used (the yoni mudra) during meditation which is used in honour of this life.
“Yoni, the creative power, is a part of the shiva linga, which represents Shiva and Shakti. The base of the linga is the yoni, representing the female sex organ. Shiva linga symbolizes the union of creative energies of Shiva and Shakti, or male and female. Tantric teachings do not consider yoni just as a female sex organ, but associate it with the Divine power. Shiva, the god of destruction, is all-powerful only when he is with Shakti, the source of life or creation.” - https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/6549/yoni
So, basically put, the word 'Yoni' is a name used for the female reproductive organs; the womb, vagina, vulva and ovaries – that which symbolises and is seen as the sacred portal through which life is birthed.
Ancient Taoists referred to the Yoni as “the gates of paradise”, “treasure”, “golden lotus” and “precious pearl”
For the modern person reading this may feel like a full body ‘yes’ – for others this may feel a little strange, it may trigger some discomfort, and you may even be rolling your eyes at this ‘hippy-dippy-mumbo-jumbo’. I urge you for a moment to pay attention to this – the womb, the vagina, is a sacred, life-giving organ, holding wisdom beyond what we care to give it credit for. Whatever reading this has made you feel I encourage you to sit with it and understand that the ways in which we think about and refer to our bodies influences and represents the ways we feel – so too how we feel can effect the ways in which the body functions as a whole.
What is a Yoni Steam
A combination of medicinal herbs are brewed in a pot and placed underneath you whilst on a chair or squatting, with blankets and sheets wrapped around the torso or hips, this allows for the steam to enter the body and penetrate unto the uterus and pelvis – easing muscle cramps and even having healing benefits for infections, PH balances and more.
The history of steaming:
Vaginal steaming dates back thousands of years and has been practiced in many cultures from those in Africa, Greece, Japan, Asia, amongst Native Americans, Mayans, Filipinos and in the Cook Islands. As a practice it is used as a routine way of honouring, cleansing and connecting.
In the Mayan healing lineage it was used to aid in cleansing the uterus in cases of menstrual issues, postpartum and during menopause.
Ancient papyrus found in Egypt describe this practice in which women allowed themselves sacred time to nurture their womb health, where women would sit on a stool or squat over a special pot containing medicinal herbs so that she could absorb the medicinal compounds and nutrients.
It is evident that this practice has an ancient and sacred history – one that is spread far and wide and, as with most things of a feminine nature, they were not often written down, rather handed from mother to daughter in a means of verbal tradition. We see an incredible resurgence now of this practice as a recognition of the sacred and of our roots in self care.
Yoni steams are utilised in order to increase warmth, circulation and moisture to the vulva - allowing it to expose the inner labial mucous membrane and allow for healing
Some potential benefits include:
- Regulating menstrual cycles - for those with healthy, pain-free periods one can steam every 3-4 months before menstruation, in order to regulate your cycle it can be done once a month at least 3 days before your bleed is due.
- Reducing menstrual pain and bloating – the warming herbal steam allows for pelvic floor muscles to relax as well as loosen the endometrial lining. Steaming once a week 1-2 weeks before your bleed should aid in easing the shedding of your menstrual blood and uterine lining.
- Lessen heavy menstrual bleeding as well as aid in reducing dark purple/ brown blood when beginning your bleed
- Increase fertility – Steaming in order to try and conceive can be done pre-ovulation up to ovulation. The steam allows for the uterine membranes to loosen and moisten, this can aid in improving uterine conditions for impregnation to take place. For those experiencing fertility issues it is advised to steam 1-2 times pre-ovulation and to continue steaming for a minimum of 3 months in order to ensure that the medicinal compounds present have time to work their magic. If you suspect that you have conceived it is essential to stop steaming.
- Ease muscles so as to reduce chance of pain in penetrative intercourse
- Postpartum recovery: bringing nourishing heat through steam allows for the womb to shrink back to pre-birth size, further allowing for fluids to be released from the body. In Mayan healing traditions women who are in good health and who have had a natural birth would have had three steams within the first 9 days postpartum – however I suggest consulting and working with your trusted midwife, doula or OBGYN to further explore your steaming options.
- Miscarriage healing: Steaming can be supportive both emotionally and physically in this challenging time – once you stop bleeding you can begin a steaming practice.
- May be able to aid in treating PCOS, endometriosis, prolapse and uterine fibroids
- May aid in healing haemorrhoids
- May aid in relieving UTI’s and yeast infections
- Ease menopausal symptoms: Steaming can aid here in easing vaginal tissue and moisten dryness, it is suggested to steam a few times a year in the first few years of menopause in order to cleanse and clear the uterine membranes once bleeding stops. This can additionally aid in passing any clots and stagnant blood which is having trouble passing and releasing.
- Detoxify womb from toxins
- Aid in healing from trauma, release stored emotion, increase creative abilities – all about intention
- Increase sexual satisfaction
- Increase libido
- Connection to feminine
- Self-love and care
How to do it
There are some incredibly beautiful stools which have been designed for yoni steaming, where you place your pot of steaming herbs below the seat and simply sit down and allow for the healing to take place. However don’t let the lack of one of these stools put you off – you can also steam in a resting position, squat or using a chair laying on its side (in a triable form so that you can sit on the middle point - see attached video at the end for more):
- Creating a safe space in which you want to steam , placing your steam bowl in the room and be sure to have warm clothing around in order to regulate your body temperature.
- Bring a pot of 1L water to a boil and add around 200-250g herbs to the water, allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Turn off the heat, keeping lid on, and allow for the herbs to steep for 10 minutes.
- Gathering a blanket wrap it around your waist and set up any comforting pillows/ stool of choice
- Once ready to steam, transfer herb pot under the opening of the chair (if using a steaming stool), alternatively squatting or sitting down over your pot, wrap your blanket around you. Settling in – if it is too hot allow for some fresh air to enter into your yoni ‘sweat lodge’ of sorts, until it is a comfortable temperature.
- Steaming can take place for up to 30 minutes however no longer – listen to your body and use this time to listen to music, meditate and tune in.
When NOT to steam
- If you are pregnant or think you may be
- Don’t steam if you are trying to conceive and are ovulating
- If you have an IUD/ IUB ensure that you are aware of the herbs you are using and do not steam for longer than 10 minutes – very important here to consult your healthcare provider in order to avoid your IUD from being rejected
- If you have an internal infection with a fever
- If you have any open wounds
- When bleeding/ menstruating
Herbal allies for your Yoni steam
Think of your yoni steam like a facial steaming – in other words there are herbs that will be sensitive enough to use for your yoni and will provide the medicinal compounds you require, but not all will work the same and some may be too ‘hard’ to use for a steam.
Please also ensure the herbs used are pesticide and herbicide free.
Rose – soothing, the feminine supporting herb, moisturising, eases menstrual pains, aids with heavy bleeding and anti-inflammatory
Lavender – antiseptic, anti-bacterial, soothing, cleansing, antispasmodic and stimulates flow
Lemon Balm – antiviral, relieves itchiness
Calendula – antiseptic, soothing, treats cramps and heavy bleeds, heals skin, anti-inflammatory, moisturising and tones the uterus
Peppermint – energizes, stimulating, restoring
Chamomile – Relieves tension, cramping and pain
Yarrow – fights infections, eases bruising, aids in hormonal balance
Rosemary – antiseptic, aids circulation, cleansing
Other honourable mentions: Red raspberry leaves, hibiscus, red clover, cinnamon, Motherwort, Basil, Damiana, marshmallow
Always remember to follow your internal wisdom
Sending blessings of radiant wellbeing