What is a YONI STEAM?

So you’re watching The Real Housewives of (insert your favourite one) and you hear them say something about going for a yoni steam, or something like that, and you’re thinking to yourself what’s that? Perhaps you’ve been scrolling through Instagram and you’ve seen posts about a yoni steam, or yoni detox pearls. It seems to be popping up everywhere now, almost all of a sudden, right? Maybe you watched a recent episode of RTT (Red Table Talk) where Queen Afua directed Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris on how to do a yoni steam at home, and you were feeling a little jealous as they enjoyed their very first 15-minute yoni steam right on camera.  Suddenly it didn’t look as scary as you may have thought it was when you first heard about it, right?


Well to set the record straight the practice of doing a yoni steam is in no way a new concept; the only thing new is sharing the experience on social media and bringing more awareness to this hyper-hygienic traditional healing practice.  Traditionally many indigenous cultures across Africa, Asia, and the diaspora, women have always created some form of a yoni steam bath to support new mothers who have recently given birth.

Over the years the elders of these communities would resort to the same yoni steam to treat common health issues women face before turning to modern medicine. A yoni steam is that practice of sitting over a pot of hot water, which is normally infused with herbs, plants, berries, roots, seeds, barks, or any other astringent agents they can get their hands on.  I’ve heard of everything from Himalayan salt, to vinegar, and sometimes even the very pungent Dettol (we do not recommend it).

The word yoni includes more than just the vagina, although sometime people will also refer to this practice a vaginal steam or a v-steam. The word yoni is actually referring to the vagina, vulva (the lips of the vagina), the uterus, the fallopian tubes; basically, all of a woman’s reproductive organs. So today we refer to this form of hydrotherapy as a yoni steam because your yoni parts are getting a shot a herbal remedy via the steam.  I always encourage a beginner to ask the eldest woman of her family about the practice without using the term ‘yoni steam,’ because although they may not be familiar with the term, they may be more than familiar with the practice and even still practice it in private on their own.  When you explain the practice of steeping herbs in a post and then sitting over it for a period of time to treat some sort of reproductive heal concern, they can often resonate with the practice although they didn’t necessarily have a name for it. 

Enjoying a yoni steam bath after giving birth is something that has been passed from generation to generation for centuries, and depending on where you live, it could be a common practice that was passed on to you when you experienced period pain, or become postpartum.  Right here in Canada in the rural Black communities of the maritime provinces the midwives and doulas (although not called doulas at that time) would instruct new mothers to do a yoni steam within days of giving birth.  This is something that was part of our postpartum care routine less than 50 years ago! We are just grateful to see social media bringing this sacred self-healing practice back to our local communities again.