“Washey Washey! Flip! Side!” These were the few words spoken during one of the most invigorating and eye-opening experiences of my spa career.
As we start to embark on the topic of wellness and specifically, sexual health and wellness, I wanted to find a wellness spa that offered a Yoni Steam (more on this service later). We’re seeing women lighten, brighten, exfoliate and nurture their bodies from head to toe now more than ever. Products are being formulated and treatments are being created that expose some of the most *taboo* areas like the vagina.
In my search, I found a Korean Bathhouse that looked simply amazing: a variety of saunas, hot tubs, steam room, and what appeared to be a “traditional Western” spa menu. Facials, massages, and body scrubs – I was in my element and ready to book! One Body Scrub and Yoni Steam – how different could this be?
The Bathhouse Experience
Upon entry to the Korean Bathhouse, you are greeted and provided a numbered key on a wristband and a “uniform” that will be worn in common areas. You are instructed to leave your shoes in a locker before leaving the reception area – a very common practice in Asian culture.
After entering the ladies’ locker room – traditional in most aspects with lockers and a vanity area, you are handed a towel and instructed to disrobe and shower before entering the bathhouse area. You are also informed that bathing suits are prohibited.
From this point on, if you have an ounce of shyness or are timid, it needs to go out the door. Everyone is nude, and no one is looking at you.
The Body Scrub Experience
To maximize the Body Scrub treatment, it is advised to soak in the tubs for at least 20 minutes prior. The “aunties”, older Korean women dressed in a lacy black bra and underwear, will locate you by your assigned number, and escort you back to the Body Scrub area.
This is where my years of spa-going experience played absolutely no role or provided any benefit to what was about to take place. In a traditional Western body treatment, your therapist will provide details of the treatment, step out of the room while you disrobe and lie on a treatment table, and provide a sheet or towel for draping. Not here. You are told to get on the table, (mainly with hand motions because English is not spoken) next to five or six other women in the middle of treatments. You are not covered, or draped, in any way, except your eyes. A damp washcloth is placed over your eyes and you are doused with a bucket of warm water. The treatment begins.
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For the next 45 minutes, you are scrubbed with a Korean Italy Towel (a thin, colorful loofa-like mitt), from jawline to toes…and everywhere in between. You are flipped, smacked, and your limbs are contorted into positions that expose every last bit of skin. You’ll be doused with warm water to rinse away the gray rolls of dead skin that will accumulate on the table.
To finalize the treatment, you’ll have a milky liquid rinsed all over your body, and will be told to shower off (“Washey Washey!”) before returning to the table for a vigorous oil massage application and hair wash. You’ll be assisted in sitting up – the table is very, very slippery at this point, smacked on the back, and told you are done.
After toweling off, it’s time for the Yoni Steam!
The Yoni Steam Experience
After the vigorous, somewhat shocking treatment that had just taken place, there was little that could leave me feeling ‘exposed or vulnerable at this point. The Yoni Steam was a welcome, calm, and relatively uneventful experience.
So what is a Yoni Steam?
“The origin of vaginal steaming is unclear. Some suspect it may be a centuries-old Korean practice or based on a practice called “fumigation,” dating back to the classical period in Greece.” Goodrx.com
We were first exposed to a Yoni Steam while at the Sage Healing Collective. We met Dr. Kalli, and asked her to expand on this treatment, she wrote an article for us on Vaginal Health and Intimate Wellness.
The treatment itself was simple: I was escorted into a private stall where there was an herbal tea mixture in a crockpot-like contraption placed under an open seat. I was instructed to have a seat, and place a towel over my lap so no steam could escape.
There was a salt lamp, a choice of herbal tea (the same blend that I was steaming with) or cold water, and headphones with meditation music. For the next 30 minutes, I sat and did nothing, while the herbal mixture steamed beneath me. An attendant checked in about halfway through, and again when my 30 minutes was up.
Many of the side effects that I’d read about prior included possibilities of a UTI and yeast infection, none of which I experienced in the days following.
This experience was not one like the Body Scrub; it is part of a wellness practice that will not transform your body instantly, but rather, lends itself to an overall wellness approach.
Korean culture has an approach to wellness and relaxation that we can learn from. It seems as if the American culture doesn’t make time for this practice; wellness is a luxury, spa visits are reserved for those that can afford it, and relaxation is overindulgent.
However, these spa treatments are incorporated into the Korean culture and considered standard practice. Families visit bathhouses on a regular basis and allow themselves the entire day to rejuvenate.
We’ve adopted so many Eastern practices. I’ve become an advocate of allowing time to incorporate at least one wellness activity into my routine on a regular basis. I think it’s going to be the Body Scrub.
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