I talk a lot about the art of self-care. My own self-care practice became so important when I was at a point in my own journey where I was moving away from focusing on others and external things and focusing more on myself. Learning about self-care, and taking part in daily, monthly, and yearly ritual as become such a potent piece in my own story of healing.
Years ago when I was in my Yoga teacher training, I learned about one of the limbs of Yoga, called Niyamas. These are personal observances that are practiced intentionally, in a Yogic way of life. My favorite Niyama is saucha.
Saucha translates into English as “cleanliness” but it is so much more than that. For me, saucha is about intentional purity in the way that I live my life, specifically in how I take care of my body.
Among some of the rituals that I practice to invite saucha into my body and spirit, is Vaginal Steaming.
This is a centuries old mechanism of cleansing the body from within using specific herbs and steam. Vaginal / Yoni steaming cleanses the uterus and can be used for a variety of issues (or for purely practicing saucha!) such as:
Pain during sex
+ so much more
Just as we clean our hair, and our skin, the inside of our bodies need to be cleansed too. We often only think of cleanses in the form of a juice-cleanse, or exfoliating body scrub, or even a neti-pot. But it’s so important to put the focus on our womb-space as well. Vaginal steaming, for me, is just as much about the physical as it is about the spiritual. When I practice this art of self-care, I feel closer to my body and my womb.
My body truly is a temple and this ancient ritual is a cleansing of my temple space.
If you have pretty pain-free periods (say that three times fast), you only need to steam a few times a year. The steam and oils from the herbs rise into your Yoni space and into your uterus to help dislodge accumulations of menstrual fluid that haven’t been passed with your monthly cycle.
Do you ever have dark red blood during your period, especially at the beginning or the end? This indicates the presence of “old” blood; this could mean that you have a slower menstrual flow or poor uterine circulation, causing blood from previous cycles to be left behind from clotting. According to the Birth Institute, the dark blood “…means that your uterus needs to be cleansed from within. The dark blood at the onset of your period is what did not flush out the last cycle and the dark blood at the end of the period is from many months, even years of accumulation on the uterine membrane. The accumulation hardens, darkens and thickens which makes the uterus work and cramp harder to expel the indurated material.”
Wow! What a simple way to put it; and it makes so much sense! From the day that I began working with my own specific blends of herbs for menstrual health, I have noticed a profound difference in my menstrual cycles; specifically on the color, amount, and texture of blood that my body passes. You'll need to really listen to your intuition and your body to discern if this is a ritual that will serve you right now. This is a "quick fix" or a one stop shop for all of your menstrual issues, but done over time, it can significantly reduce some symptoms. Try it out and see what you think!
When NOT to steam: During your period, if you think you have a vaginal or bladder infection, if you are pregnant or think you are pregnant, or if you have open wounds or sores.
How to steam:
You’ll need a large glass or stainless steel bowl, a cup of dried herbs (see herbal suggestions below) and boiling water.
Place your bowl in your toilet with the lip of the bowl hugging the sides. The bowl should fall into your toilet bowl but should just fit in.
Place a cup of herbs inside the bowl.
Pour enough hot water over herbs to just cover them.
Cover with a top or lid and let steep for about 10 minutes.
Then, remove your clothing from the waist down. Make sure the steam isn't too hot, and then sit down on your seat and wrap a blanket around your waist, so that you can contain the steam. ( I typically put a small towel over the toilet seat edges so it’s more comfy.) It may take you a few tries to see what you like!
The steam lasts for about 20 minutes.
Use this time to retreat into yourself. If you can, light some candles in your bathroom, dim the lights, play some relaxing music and soak in this practice of self-care.
Once finished, be sure to stay warm and cozy; it’s optimal to practice steaming before bed so you can get under the covers right after, to lie down and stay warm.
Herbs for steaming:
Yarrow: reduces very heavy bleeding at menstruation and reduces cramps. This herb is also used for protection and courage.
Mugwort: stimulates the uterus to restore a natural monthly cycle. (do not use if pregnant). Mugwort is also the herb of dream-time, allowing us to remove the veil between spirit and earthly world.
Rosemary: increases circulation and helps with pain relief. This herb is used for purification of the body and the spirit.
Calendula: initiates rapid healing of vaginal tissues and reduces cramping. Calendula also pulls in positive, fresh energy!
Rose Petals: this a very gentle astringent that will eliminate bad bacteria. Rose is also the herb of self-love and uplifts your spirits!
If you have experience with herbs and know the medicinal properties of your favorite herbs, you might decide to make your own blend. I have created a limited amount of Yoni Steaming blends with the herbs listed above. Click below to order yours.
Have you ever steamed? Comment below with your favorite herbs to use! Questions? Ask away!