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My awesome sister-in-law, Adriane Rawls-Mottahed, recently trained and certified as a vaginal steam facilitator and my interest was immediately peaked. I had a ton of questions! Adriane was kind enough to sit down with me and answer all of my steaming questions. (Article has been slightly edited for clarity).
What is the origin of vaginal steaming?
I don’t know if there is one specific country it originates from, however, Keli Garza in one of her YouTube videos talks about how she has been compiling a list of over 30 countries where she’s heard about steaming being used. She mentions how in many places all over the world, Central America, the Caribbean Islands, Europe, South America, Mexico, certain Native American tribes, Africa, Asia, and more, women practice steaming.
In general, it’s most widely known for post-partum healing and recovery. Steaming is crucial for postpartum recovery. I so wish I had known about it after having my babies. Here in America, it’s not widely recognized because we rely on modern medicine/the medical system to treat us. I think we live in a time where more people are starting to look for alternative sources for healing, prevention, and treatment.
For me, the practice of vaginal steaming gives me the ability to reconnect to a knowledge my ancestors had. With so much that was taken away from us as women and women of color, I feel like there has been some real restorative justice, maybe not the traditional sense of the word, but in that, I can now reclaim the healing of my body. Not only for myself but for other women in my family who weren’t able to.
People say all the time that yoga has a lot of physical and mental benefits. Is it the same for steaming and if so, how?
Steaming definitely needs to be on every woman self-care list, in my opinion. It helps heal your womb physically and emotionally. Steam is magic in of itself. Think about when you go to the steam room at the spa or at your gym, or even when you get a facial. It does wonders for clearing out toxins in your body thru the skin and improves the blood circulation to any part of the body it comes in contact with. So it’s the same with vaginal steaming, the physical benefits of the steam alone are amazing, but when you add in the medicinal benefits of herbs it can really take healing to a whole new level.
The steam and herbs together tighten the vaginal walls, reduces heavy bleeding, clears out excess toxins including yeast, bacteria, and viruses, old residual blood, mucus, scar tissue, etc. It targets underlying imbalances in your reproductive system and clears up blood stagnation, uterine fatigue, and excess heat in the body to name a few. Women also have been known to use steam to deal with the symptoms of menopause, and to help with fertility. But outside of the physical benefits its done wonders for me personally to heal trauma.
As women we hold a lot of trauma in our wombs, our trauma then shows up in our wombs as imbalances, major gynecological issues like fibroids, chronic infections, endometriosis, heavy menstrual cycle bleeding, etc. Steaming allowed me a chance to connect with my body, and really focus on myself.
That provided me the added mental and emotional benefits. I became so aware of my body and how to listen and focus on what it was telling me each month. I began tracking my monthly cycles, paying attention to my periods. I watched everything with my body and made connections about what was going on.
I know that meditation can help with menstrual cramps. Does steaming also offer menstrual relief?
Yes, definitely! It’s the reason I finally don’t have cramps anymore. Our periods are essentially our uterus’s monthly cleanse. The uterus is a made up of muscle tissue and when the uterus is trying to cleanse itself, the muscles contract to push out what isn’t needed inside of the uterus.
If we have stagnation, old blood from previous periods (brown or black blood, or clots), residue and mucus in our uterus, then the uterine wall muscles contract harder in attempt to properly cleanse itself out. So if you are having cramps every month, it likely means that you aren’t getting a proper uterine cleanse each month.
How long does a typical steam last?
For clients who have never steamed before or have sensitivities, which we determine through the intake process, the session will be 10 minutes. For clients who have steamed before and don’t have any sensitivity, the session is 30 minutes. The session length for clients with sensitivities is shorter because if you have, for example, chronic infections or heat issues (night sweats or hot flashes), your body really doesn’t need a lot of heat for an extended amount of time.
Ten minutes is the perfect amount of time to provide the healing benefits of the steam and herbs without overwhelming the body with too much heat. Too much heat for clients with sensitivities can cause adverse effects.
Yoga can be considered a form of self-care which is so important to women (because we care for so many other people). Is steaming a form of self-care?
OMG YES! I love yoga as a form of self-care; it was one of the first exercises I tried that truly felt like I was connecting with my body thru love and care. Vaginal steaming gives me the same feeling of self-love and care but on a deeper feminine level. Every day I give to my kids, husband, mom, co-workers, friends and the world. That’s what we do as women, we give. We hold space for everyone.
Steaming allowed me to hold space for me. It’s my alone time; I am healing and releasing whatever isn’t supposed to be inside me physically and emotionally. I am dedicating this time to myself and my care. Our bodies are sacred, and steaming allows me to honor my body and give it position. At Sacred Steam ATL we hold space for you. We believe the most self-caring thing you can do for yourself is giving your body the respect it deserves.
Like yoga, I know that vaginal steaming can be done at home. What are some of the benefits of going to a certified steam professional?
Right, steaming can definitely be done at home. I was trained and certified as a vaginal steam facilitator by the Peristeam Hydrotherapy Institute. The courses were developed by Keli Garza founder and owner of steamychicks.com. I definitely recommend working with a certified vaginal steam facilitator or a peri-steam hydro therapist before steaming at home. We have the proper training to really help you determine what imbalances you have in your reproductive system. For example, I do an intake/consultation with all my first-time clients.
From that intake process, I am able to tell what imbalances you have and what proper herbs to use, what steam plan you need (how often & how long you need to steam), and what type of set up you need (mild or advanced). All these elements are critical to really being able to empower yourself with the proper information and tools needed to steam at home.
Before I was trained, I researched herbs online, looked up yoni steaming on YouTube, and I thought that was all I needed to steam at home. Although I enjoyed the feeling I had after steaming, I wasn’t getting the results this way. I needed more information to tailor the steam to my body’s specific needs.
Thank you so much for all of the wonderful information, Adriane!