By ADINA LAKSER
Self-care. Who hasn’t heard about it? Meditation, yoga, me time at the spa. But there is one relaxation break you might not have heard of: having a cup of tea with your vag. Yes, you read that right.
This cup of tea, otherwise known as yoni steaming, is an ancient practice that is being revived here in Winnipeg by healer and artist Jessica Wyn. She describes a steam as a “herbally infused, warm, comforting, medicinal uplifting relaxing kind of experience.” I had the opportunity to try out a steam and chat with her about the practice in her home and studio, a cozy apartment high above it all, nestled in the tree tops.
Yoni is the Sanskrit word for womb, uterus or vagina, but it signifies more than just the anatomy. Yoni is a symbol of the goddess Shakti, the female generative power, the energy of the Divine Feminine and the wisdom of creation that lies in all of us.
Wyn was first introduced to yoni steaming while studying holistic midwifery in North Carolina in 2014. As someone who struggles with a “uterus that complains and has issues,” as she puts it, she was intrigued by what this group of “wonderful wise women” taught her about the practice. She and her fellow students experienced a steam at a Korean spa in Atlanta, Georgia. After this experience, for Wyn, yoni steaming went from something more abstract or just connected to midwifery care, to something that could be helpful for all of us with yonis.
Yoni steaming, as the name denotes, is a practice of steaming the outside of the yoni with a herbal infusion. Sierra Brashear, a yoni steamer practitioner in Colorado, explains on her website, soulvibrance.com:
“A yoni steam works by applying gentle heat, as well as moisture that carries medicinal plant oils, to the exterior tissues of the vagina…These tissues are very porous and absorbent, allowing the bloodstream to pick up the medicinal oils and and carry them into the inner reproductive system, including the uterus. There, they work to help the uterus cleanse and release what is built up on its lining.”
To prepare for my steam, Wyn simmered a blend of herbs to help with nourishment and general health (different herb blends would be used to treat a number of different issues). She opened the lid of her cedar yoni box, placed the pot inside, closed the lid and asked me to sit above the hole in the box, draping the long skirt I wore over it. She then placed a blanket over my lap, ensuring all the steam would be trapped in.
As I sat, she let me know I could talk or go quiet, and she would accommodate what I needed during the session. Initially, I was chatty, but as I felt the steam start to permeate, I quieted and went inside to experience this unique sensation. I stayed on the box for about 15 minutes, which Wyn said is a good amount for a first time steam. Although I could definitely feel the steam, it wasn’t too hot or uncomfortable. Rather, it felt really soothing and nourishing. After my steam, I felt like my yoni and pelvic region was both plumper and more toned.
Yoni steaming is said to be an effective treatment for many gynecological concerns, such as painful menstruation, heavy bleeding, fibroids, cysts, infection, yeast, irregular periods, uterine weakness or collapse, and preparing the body for pregnancy. As well, it’s used during the postpartum period to heal tears and wounds, and to speed up the process of uterine shedding. Wow!
As Wyn remarked, “Period complaints are rather common, but (it’s) rather uncommon to have effective treatments.” For those who have issues with menstruation, premenstrual symptoms, peri-menopausal issues, how did we not know about this gentle, effective and accessible treatment?!
Although often used to treat health issues, yoni steaming can also be practised as a regular routine to nourish and connect with our bodies. As Wyn said, “Most of the time, we either think of our yonis when they’re bleeding or we’re interacting with them in a sexual way. Steaming is a way to open up a connection that’s caring (and) that builds a listening relationship with ourselves that’s so important.”
In the words of sexual health educator Wendy Stgrar, “The pelvic cavity is a truth teller for most of us.” Opening the lines of communication is integral to honouring needs and boundaries. The pelvic region houses the first chakra and second root chakras. The first, the root chakra, is related to our feelings of safety and security. The second, the sacral chakra, is related to sexuality, sensuality, creativity and connection. Our lower torso can transmit essential information about what we like, what we don’t like, what can help us ground down and what can help us play. Having a steam is a great time to hang out with and listen to our pelvic region.
You can contact Wyn at jessicawyn.com or 204-990-2611 to learn more about – and try – a yoni steam. She also offers many other services, from yoni egg yoga to burlesque clowning classes. Women’s traditional medicine – practices that, even despite extensive suppression, have been passed down and revived – offer holistic, respectful and integrative approaches to connecting with and healing our bodies.
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I’d love to hear from you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments and questions.