Womb steaming, yoni steaming, v-steam whatever you want to call it. It's a thing and people are verrrry interested in it. So when an opportunity came up to participate in a live online womb steaming experience, I thought I'd give it a go.
I gathered my materials and headed for a private and comfy room in the house. Electric tea kettle full of water, a large pot for holding hot water, a mix of herbs to scent the water, a spoon, loose clothing featuring a long skirt, and something to sit on. I got everything set up and then recorded a few thoughts before it all started.
"So what I've got is some Himalayan salt from Costco, a sprig of rosemary from my garden, and a palm full of orange blossoms from my orange tree. I have no cultural or spiritual attachments to any of these things. Except my orange tree. I raised it from a twig with three leaves and it's been with me for nearly 15 years. I'm attached to it. My vagina has no feelings or connections with the orange tree. The two have never met."
"Womb steaming, yoni steaming, vaginal steaming
I feel embarrassed just reading the word 'yoni', it doesn't belong to me.
Is this is actual practice in any culture?
Do people feel they need to be cleansed?
This feels like a Western mutation of something."
Going into this, I knew the dangers of steam. I'm a woman of science and even though I had to take thermodynamics twice, I am well aware that steam can be far more dangerous than boiling water. Steam coming directly out of your kettle can cook the skin right off of you.
So listen up people, if you're thinking about steaming any part of yourself please please please do it safely! Do not attempt to apply steam to any part of your body directly out of a cooking vessel. Always transfer your hot, steaming water to a mug or other stable vessel. Just imagine for a second cooking your labia over a steam kettle. Now stop it! That would be horrible. Don't do it.
And here's my next safety warning: Be paranoid about pets and children knocking over your hot, steamy water. In my experience, if there's liquid to be knocked over, my kids will knock it over. And finally, if you are prone to yeast infections, please reconsider a vaginal steam bath. Introducing anything foreign to your vagina can cause yeast infections.
The womb steaming session started and I tabbed through about 100 tiles of women all around the country, and the world, all preparing to give their ladybits a treat. We turned on our kettles. We added herbs to our pots. We poured hot water over the herbs and stirred. As a group, we scooched down our panties and and wiggled our bottoms to the front of our seats. I gave myself a fit of giggles just imagining the scene right outside each tiny frame!
My blend of herbs and salt smelled wonderful on the warm steam. In fact, I kept wishing I could just have a pot of warm water on the desk to perfume the air around me. But alas, it was time to drop my skirt over the bowl of water and steam my womb.
Once the skirt was down the lovely perfume stopped wafting freely. My butt and heels started to feel tingly! Oh nevermind! That was just the strain of staying perched on the edge of my seat. Someone wrote in the chat, "The feminine energy here is amazing!!!" Bummer. The only energy I felt was heat from the steam.
I was getting more and more skeptical. I started doing some googling. I found a blog by a medical historian who seems to feel this I can all be traced back to a couple Western women. Her research into the "Korean chai-yok" and the "Mayan bajos" kept leading her back to the same two women...right here in the USA. She turned up nothing from the ancient Greeks. There does seem to be some evidence of the practice in modern day Sub-Saharan Africa, but it's not all about cleansing. Vaginal steam baths are often associated with dry sex and intentionally removing vaginal lubrication. Ouch!
I finally ran out of steam and left the meeting. Vaginal steaming is definitely not for me! I think I could achieve better relaxation by soaking my whole self, or just my feet, in a hot bath with the same aromatics. It did remind me that I have a teeny weeny crockpot that would be a perfect steam generator. I'll definitely get that thing out this winter and fill the office with herby steam. My nose will appreciate it much more than my vagina!
Have you heard of vaginal steaming? Have you considered trying it? As your postpartum doula, I'm always eager to talk through the risks and benefits of any practice. And if this is a tradition in your family, I'd love to hear more about it!