LAST year, I dived into the depths of Ayurvedic wellness in the form of a one-day Panchakarma at LA’s best not-so-kept secret, Surya Spa. Seeing the power of ancient medicinal wisdom performed in real time made me extremely curious about all Ayurveda had to offer.
It’s therefore no wonder that after several people mentioned yoni steams to me within a one-month period, I took it as a sign from the high heavens that it was time for me to go back to the “place where it all happened,” and leave it to Surya expert and founder Martha Soffer to show me what a real yoni steam was all about.
If you haven’t heard of a yoni steam, I’m about to share all I know. For those of you who’ve been with us a while, you may recall that we were one of the first to cover V-Steams back in 2014 — maybe even before they were on Gwyneth’s map!
What The Heck Is A Yoni Steam?
Yoni steams—also known as V steams, peristeams, chai-yok, or bajo’s—have been used as a part of ancient practice in several indigenous cultures—Indian, Mayan, Native American, Chinese, and African, just to name a few—for literally thousands of years. While the traditions of it are unique to each culture, the common goal they all share is to facilitate better detoxification, fertility support, menopausal transition, menstrual health, and spiritual / ritualistic cleansing by steaming one’s yoni with a combination of synergistic herbs and botanicals.
Some of the potential benefits for yoni steams include:
+ Restoring menstrual regularity
+ Symptom relief during PMS / menstruation
+ Improving comfort during sex
+ Healing / reduction of ovarian cysts, fibroids, and endometriosis
+ Improved fertility + conception
+ Better hormone balance
+ Clearing vaginal / yeast infections
+ Postpartum support
+ Promoting healthy life force energy
With so many benefits, why aren’t more people talking about yoni steams as a normal part of women’s health? Martha suggests that for so much of the past, women’s health has been regulated by men, leaving many rights of passage, health protocols, and efficacious rituals and practices completely undiscussed and under-researched.
Because yoni steams are so rarely talked about (or are considered “taboo” if they are), many women are left thinking that yoni steams are above their health pay grade. However, Martha is adamant that “absolutely anyone can benefit from a yoni steam. Whether you have a UTI, or you just need help balancing your hormones, it’s a healthy practice that helps women re-engage with their divine feminine.”
Once you can get past the whole “but I’m putting steam up my you-know-what,” it’s actually really easy and pretty amazing.
The Benefits Of Yoni Steaming: My Surya Experience
I went into my yoni swedana experience having no idea what to expect. For years now, I’ve struggled with hormonal imbalance, frustrating periods (35-day cycles!!), and gnarly PMS that usually shows up with tons of bloating, acne, and swollen breasts. Being a woman is glorious!
Once again, I arrived at the Den of Dreams (I’m talking about Surya), where I was led into one of their beautiful treatment rooms—only after I ate a slice of their memorably delicious Vegan Spa Bread with a side of Ayurvedic herbal tea, of course.
My practitioner asked me about my hormonal history—imbalances, issues with sex, my cycle, and any other concerns I had. Once I regaled her with all of my anxieties, she settled on Surya’s Balancing Steam, which leverages super soothing and rejuvenating tridoshic herbs like Shatavari, Mugwort, Rose, and White Peony Root.
As she began to prepare my herbs in a small steam pot within the room, I was advised to undress, wrap myself in a bed sheet, and take a seat on this wooden stool-like contraption that had a seat cushion and a gaping hole in the middle. Naturally, I was left wondering what I had just signed myself up for. “You’re sure this appointment is 45 minutes?” I asked. “What are we going to do in here for 45 minutes?”
Well, my friends, let me tell you what happened for 45 minutes.
For 45 minutes, I sat on my little steam stool, using my white sheet as a tent to hold in the steam as my goddess angel of a practitioner massaged warm Abhyanga Oil (could cry just talking about it) into my hair, scalp, shoulders, and back. Once I thought I had experienced enough elation from that massage, she pulled out “the big guns,” working Surya’s d-i-v-i-n-e Face Oil and Collagen Cream into my face using their Kansa Wand. I was not in heaven. I was higher than heaven. I was in heaven before heaven was even heaven.
All the while, my yoni was being comfortably steamed without any interruption or “woah, that’s a crazy thing that just happened” moment.
After my steam ended, I felt renewed, held, and nourished, like I had just experienced my “wild feminine.” Even though I didn’t expect to feel any immediate benefits from my yoni steam, I did feel a very intense sense of self-connection—as if I had just completed my own right of passage in a way (bat mitzvah not included!).
Continuing My Steaming Practice At Home
Given my concerns, Martha suggested that I keep up my yoni steaming practice at home, performing this ritual about two-to-three times per month—once, the week before ovulation; once, the week before my period; and once, the week after my period. I was given a full Yoni Steam Kit to uphold my promise to my yoni once back in the San Fernando Valley.
I held off on my steam for weeks, terrified of the setup and deeply intimidated by the temperature settings. Although I had no issues during my appointment at Surya, I had heard some internet rumors about burning your downstairs with steam if it’s too hot. What if I became that girl?!
Martha gave me some quick pointers before I went full (y)oni.
+ Check the heat with the inside of your forearm to make sure it’s not too hot
+ 15-20 minutes is totally enough time to steam
+ Keep the steamer on low
Finally, I gathered the gumption for my steam after my period was three days late, and I felt like I was a grenade of hormones, waiting to combust. I opted to perform my steam before my evening shower so I could cleanse and jump right into bed after. I followed all of the preparation directions and set up a cozy space for myself, where I’d be able to watch my latest reality TV obsession, which isn’t exactly yoni-streaming material, but I needed something to distract me from the fact that I wasn’t getting an oil massage. Granted, you could probably turn on meditation music, read a book, or even close your eyes.
I kept the heat super low—just enough to keep the steam steaming throughout—and was surprised by one, how comfortable it was and two, how similar it felt to my Surya experience. I finished my ritual with Surya’s (y)oni Balancing Cream, which helps to hydrate intimate skin with hormone-balancing herbs. Why wouldn’t my yoni deserve the same love that my face does?!
The next day—and I’m not exaggerating—I felt a twinge in my uterus and a slight cramp. By the evening, I had started my period. “This is magic!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. My period was super healthy, non-clotted, and I had very little discomfort. I was officially a Steamer. My stool would remain within arm’s reach so I could perform it again in just two-weeks’ time.
Final Thoughts on The Yoni Steam
I’m still in month one of my yoni steaming, but I have fully bought in.
I have literally texted friends of mine with endometriosis, vulvodynia, and fibroids, suggesting they try a yoni steam right away. I’m genuinely very excited to see how my body continues to respond to the steaming practice, both physically and spiritually.
I will also say that I think—while the Surya (y)oni Steam doesn’t come cheap, costing around $200 for the treatment—it is very much worth working with a practitioner on your first go-around before taking to the streets and the sheets on your own. Seeing how it was performed at the spa gave me a real context for both safety practices as well as spiritual practices I could enact in my own space, and I really think it made a difference once I got home.
So far, Ayurveda has yet to let me down. If anything, I’m more intrigued than ever about what more I can garner from this ancient wisdom, but I guess I’ll just have to keep going back to Surya to find out.
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.