ANDREA VARELA

ANDREA VARELA

A yogi shares how she uses v-steaming as a tool for spiritual and emotional transformation.

Video Transcript

Jessica: [00:00:03] Hi everyone, I am Jessica, thanks for tuning in to our brand-new Facebook Live. Today’s interview is going to be a little bit more unique from our last few. We have been interviewing gynecologists, doctors, fertility specialists to hear their thoughts on vaginal steaming. Today, we’re going to focus more on what we’re calling steam stories from around the world. Interviewing real women who practice vaginal steaming and just getting the scoop on their personal experience integrating these steaming into their lives. So this evening I’ll be speaking with Andrea or Andy Varela, who is a Yogi in New Mexico, right?

Andrea: [00:00:39] Yes

Jessica: [00:00:40] And yes, we saw your YouTube video called, “My yoni steam made me cry,” and we definitely wanted to hear more so thanks for joining us.

Andrea: [00:00:48] Of course. Thank you guys for having me. I really appreciate it.

Jessica: [00:00:51] Of course. So let’s start off by just learning a little bit more about you. You’re based in New Mexico, are you from there originally?

Andrea: [00:01:00] Yes. I was born and raised here in New Mexico, and then about five years ago, I moved to the city, so I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’m a yoga instructor here. I am a 500 hour yoga instructor, I just got certified for my 300 hours in Costa Rica and I was there for about seven weeks this summer. It was so beautiful, it’s a really great experience. And then I’m also an energy worker. I’m certified in Reiki. I got certified in that last year. I do energy healings as well and I work with plant medicine and I do a little bit of everything. I’ve been doing Yoni steams for at least seven to eight months now, not every month, I definitely spread it out. I had a friend that introduce me to yoni steaming and that’s been my journey as of this last year, it’s been with plants and plant medicine.

Jessica: [00:02:00] How did your friend introduce you to it? Was it something that she learned from another woman or was it passed down through her family?

Andrea: [00:02:07] She actually makes yoni steams, from a lot of it here in New Mexico. She’s been gathering herbs from New Mexico, for a few years now and has been shipping yoni steams out. I think that she has a pretty decent following on Twitter and she has been sending them out to people using her own herbs. She goes and she harvests and so she’s been a really big inspiration as far as my yoni steam journey.

Jessica: [00:02:33] When you first heard about it from her, were you at a workshop with her? Was she at a yoga class or you went out for coffee? Do you remember the moment that she first started telling you about it or that you discovered her?

Andrea: [00:02:46] Yes. So she’s my best friend. We were hanging out and she was telling me that she works with yoni steams, so I was curious. I hadn’t heard about what that was and so I asked her what it was. She gave me the benefits, the run down and told me the different herbs that she personally uses. I know that it’s kind of customizable. She introduced me to a few different herbs that she puts in most, if not all of her steams. Then she intuitively chooses different herbs for certain people. If somebody has a certain intention that they’re using [the steam for], she usually likes to find a herb that works with them. So it’s just kind of something that she’s been doing in order to… She’s an entrepreneur. And so she’s been doing that over the last few years to make a little bit of income and to educate women on yoni steaming as well.

Jessica: [00:03:34] When you first heard her talk about it, did you find it strange or did it immediately just attract you as something you wanted to try or a little bit of both?

Andrea: [00:03:43] Yes, I feel like strange things attract me. That sounds weird, but I definitely wanted to try it. So I was really excited to do it for my first time. Then after that, I started making and experimenting with my own and I got into really loving it. I’m a very spiritual person, so I used it more for the spiritual benefits. I mean it’s great, all of the physical benefits that come with it as well.

Jessica: [00:17:23] The very first time that you steamed, was your intention more based in personal growth rather than the physical aspects of the benefits of steaming?

Andrea: [00:17:31] The first time that I steamed, it was after a full moon, it was charged with the full moon and I had just gotten out of a relationship but I was healing wounds from a previous relationship. So, I really just wanted to clear all the energy out of my womb space from that, so that was my intention with my first steam, to really see what came up from it and also with the intention of healing whatever was stored in there that didn’t need to be stored there anymore.

Jessica: [00:17:51] Maybe you can walk us a little bit through your practices like in your home, because I assuming you’re at home using your own DIY steam action?

Andrea: [00:17:55] Yes. So she told me to try and find a yoni throne but I didn’t really practice it enough to want to invest super hard in it. So I just did it in a toilet. So what I did was, while everything was boiling, I just brewed everything like a tea and I had meditated over it. I was chanting over it, then I went to the bathroom and I just cleared space. She told me that it was really important to set a space and to sit in that space, have an intention. So I went to my bathroom and I lit some sage and incense and I really created a very sacred space. I put on some really healing music. I think it was some Native American music that had all these chimes, drums and instrumental and so I created that space. Then I cleaned my toilet a little bit with vinegar and lemon and I flushed that down. Then I went ahead and I put the tea in there essentially. I put that in the toilet, then I took a blanket and I covered my legs with [it] and I sat over the steam. Then I meditated for 45 minutes, I think I was in there. I let anything that was coming up, come up. I had a pretty big emotional release for my first one and it invoked some feelings that I hadn’t felt in a long time as far as anger, sadness. Just going through some traumatic experiences that I’ve [had] in my life. Just watching those come up and watching how my mind observes those things that was coming up kind of allowed myself to feel all the emotions that I hadn’t felt for certain things. I noticed physically that it really helps my period sync up with the moon. I was kind of synced up with the moon for a while there, then I took a trip to Sedona and when I came back from that trip, my period was kind of off [sync with the moon]. So it was like in transition between new and full moon. So I noticed that it linked me back up to the moon, which was really interesting.

Jessica: [00:19:15] Now, in practice, do have a certain time of the month that you do it ritually or does it vary depending on when you’re feeling or what your schedule is like? Or is it always like after or before menstruation?

Andrea: [00:19:24] It’s definitely usually after menstruation, I’ve noticed. I guess intuitively, I never really thought about that. But it definitely does happen after menstruation, just because I like to be sure when I’m going to menstruate or when I’ve already menstruated. So I usually like to do it after menstruation and then I don’t really do it every month….

So I do it like every three to six months and it’s just kind of when I intuitively feel like I need to. Like now that I have been back from Costa Rica and I settled in a little bit, now I know it’s after my next menstrual cycle I want to clear all of that energy and do another one. I’ve done about two since I started doing them.

Jessica: [00:19:57] Being an energy worker and having a pretty deep understanding of what that means, when you can explain a bit more this idea of release of energy and how vaginal steaming can help facilitate that. I think, even from my own personal experience, bringing the heat to that part of our bodies, what is the significance of that energetic center and how is that activated as a release practice?

Andrea: [00:20:13] Yes. So the womb is actually connected to our sacral chakra and our sacral chakra is the chakra that holds our creativity. It’s the chakra that also holds all of our traumas, all our ancestral healing. Same thing with the root chakra, I feel like it does a little bit of work with both. So when we’re energetically healing something, we’re just giving ourselves the space to really allow ourselves to bring up whatever it is. So in the instance of yoni steaming, just sitting with myself in that meditation and seeing what comes up, and by that, what I mean, it’s like my mind takes me back to certain parts of my life and I’m able to really fully feel all of the emotions that come with that. So that’s what I see as like an energetic release. It’s like, I couldn’t feel those things in that moment, maybe I couldn’t process it, maybe there was too much going on, maybe this experience literally made my body freeze up, made my nerves freeze up and I couldn’t actually process it in that moment. And so what the steam does is, it invites me to go back to that space, in a different context, in a meditation and I can look at it from an objective space and I can actually see, okay, these are the emotions that tie into that, this is how I felt at the time without even really knowing that this is how I felt. This is where I lost my power and I didn’t say no or…, Yeah, just kind of a loss of power. Sometimes some things aren’t really like, sexual or anything, sometimes it’s just [something] that we’ve experienced. I had one scene where a lot of inner child things came up and I noticed where I could have stepped up more in my own voice, even as a kid or an adolescent and noticed that a lot of [experiences] affected me and my body growing up. There were a lot of times where I felt anger and sadness and I didn’t really have a healthy way of expressing that. So I feel like, in this objective space I can really do that and I can really feel all the emotions that come up with that. So that’s kind of what I feel like an energetic release would be. Definitely.

Jessica: [00:21:46] And I think it’s such a benefit to be able to have this practice and do this in your own home, where you feel empowered to set the stage for what you want that to feel like and be embedded in that space and that it’s really personal work that you’re doing. I think it’s really great and well described. Do you have a meditation practice outside of steaming? I’m assuming you do that more than just every three to six months.

Andrea: [00:22:06] Yeah definitely. I have a pretty solid meditation practice. I was doing a little bit more meditation when I was in Costa Rica and then when I got back it was adjusting back into like my lifestyle and back into everything that I was doing before. But I set a pretty good foundation for a meditation practice while I was out in Costa Rica and I’ve kept up with tuning into my breath and really playing with the idea that every moment can be a meditation. And so I find that during my day, there at least 10 to 15 minutes that I really just sit with myself, tune into myself and see how I’m feeling, see how my body’s feeling and what I’ve noticed is that the more micro that you can get the feelings, the deeper that you can come into yourself. And by that, if somebody asks me” How are you feeling?” I’m like, ” Oh I’m good, I’m fine.” Instead of doing that, just taking a moment to really feel into myself and say, “Oh I feel this heaviness in my chest, I feel like I’m going through something, I’m not really sure what it is. I feel like my body’s kind of tight.” Just really getting micro with things like that can really help you actually figure out what it is that you’re really feeling. So I feel like meditation has really brought me into that space of being able to tune into myself and being able to tune into my body.

Jessica: [00:23:01] So then when vaginal steaming was more focused on the womb space and the core of your female body, do you see that as an enhanced version of meditation or in other words is it supplementing your meditation practice or does it have a totally different function for you?

Andrea: [00:23:14] Oh no, it definitely enhances my meditation practice immensely, I think because the herbs are being used in that. Because as women, our wombs are literally portals of creation. Whether it’s birthing a child, an idea, a new art project or birthing a new opportunity, that is our space of creation. And so when there are things that are blocking that, when we remove those, we really sit with those, it really brings you into a deeper trance especially because herbs are involved and I notice that the intention that I put into a steam is exactly what I experienced through vaginal steaming and so sometimes, I don’t like to put an intention and I like to just see what comes up. But I’ve noticed that when I do put an intention, the energy absolutely follows that and I can feel whatever the intention is that I put into that. So definitely enhances the meditation a lot more especially if it’s something that I’m seeking to let go of or something I’m seeking to experience.

Jessica: [00:23:55] Are you just experiencing that release on an energetic level? Or have you also noticed… When you were saying that your menstrual cycle is starting to sync up more within the moon, by integrating this practice, did you [notice physical effects] in your body in any way?

Andrea: [00:24:10] So I definitely have always had a pretty regular period, I go for about five days. My first two days are the hardest, my last three days are just kind of spotting from here and there. So I’ve been pretty regular as far as my period, so the biggest thing that I’ve noticed was myself syncing back up to the moon. But as far as physical benefits…. I feel like it also changes the consistency of the fluids as well and it really falls into the four phase menstruation. Like the follicular phase is a little bit different–as far as the fluid–than any other phases and I’ve noticed…. I’ve definitely noticed that the odor has changed as well.

Jessica: [00:25:03] Furthermore, you were mentioning your friend that, that creates different streams for her clients and that she uses local herbs around your area and New Mexico. Which herbs are you using more frequently? You mentioned chamomile and rose. Are there any others that she recommends or that you’ve experienced and worked with?

Andrea: [00:25:17] Definitely. So Rose is one that she collects. She also collects yarrow and mullein and there’s one more that she always uses.

Jessica: [00:25:25] Mugwort is a very popular one that I been working with, or [00:25:26] _____. [0.0] But that’s used mostly in the Korean tradition of vaginal steaming. It like the main herb.

Andrea: [00:25:30] Oh Oregano. That’s another one.

Jessica: [00:25:30] Oregano. Yes. That’s also very big, like cleansing, clearing herb, Like here in the Northeast where I am, mugwort grows like wildfire, it’s everywhere.

Andrea: [00:25:36] That is easy and abundant there.

Jessica: [00:25:36] It means something, I’m convinced. I think that also a great aspect of it too. It’s like, it can be used so simple in terms of going out into your hyper local nature and seeing what’s available to you and so many of these plants are trying to speak to us. Even if we’re just using them in the steam for aromatherapeutic reasons, that in and of itself helps induce this more emotional release I think, for the meditations. So I think that’s the great aspect that you touched on. Wow!

Andrea: [00:26:00] I feel like with local herbs to your area, especially if you’ve grown up in the area, it can also enhance a little bit of ancestral healing too I’ve noticed. Especially like growing up in New Mexico and using the herbs of New Mexico, there can be a lot of ancestral healing and I know that she kind of only uses those specific herbs after harvest and then during the winter after she runs out, we have a local herb store that has pretty much everything local.

Jessica: [00:26:19] That’s really great. I know there’s many people making different blends now. I feel like it’s definitely on the rise but it’s not that it’s a new thing, it really is Reiki practice. And I think anyone that comes into contact with it through word of mouth and tries it in the same way that you did, immediately feels like, ” Oh I’m home.” This is a very important way of connecting to myself that I didn’t realize was available to me. Even as someone too who has regular periods and isn’t dealing with something very debilitating in terms of P.M.S, it’s still such a powerful tool to just let go of so much of that tightness that we hold, its protection really too and even what you’re mentioning, this womb and sacral chakra, it is really about home and protection and be able to feel safe there is really important. So the moment that we can kind of meditate on that spa, I think it’s just really great. So I’m glad to hear that your practice is serving you in that way. I know also a lot of women are, at least on the East Coast, I think in L.A. too, certain spas are offering this as a treatment as well, which I think is a really interesting juxtaposition of, do you want to do this at home or even like, in a circle of women, at a group workshop, or go to a spa and pay like a hundred dollars to have it be more of like a pampered experience. Whatever gets you there. But I’m curious, do you have any thoughts on that or if you’ve tried, you’ve been in a spa or any situation besides just at home?

Andrea: [00:27:24] I’ve never tried steaming in a spa, I feel like that would be kind of interesting. I’m just so hypersensitive that I would definitely have to treat the space like it’s my space. I clear it and do the energy work beforehand. But I definitely think that would be kind of cool and something to look into. Absolutely. Like you said, anything that gets you there. These are like these ancient techniques that we’re now bringing back. And so it’s like, a lot of people experience this or feel like this is new but exactly what you said, when you do it, it’s like a homecoming. You’re like, “No, I’ve been doing this.” And that’s what I mean by ancestral healing right? It’s like, “No I’ve been doing this for a really long time, I didn’t know and now I’m here again. “

Jessica: [00:27:53] I think that’s so true. Even just having that space, to release stress and tension which seem to be like some of the root causes of a lot of health problems. This mind, body connection is so real and I think, sometimes we try to be so hyper scientific about it. But I think it always comes full circle, kind of back to your inner knowing and ability to communicate with your body and what it is trying to say to you. I even think that’s what cramps are. It’s your uterus working, yes, to shed your lining but it also has a voice that I think vaginal steaming allows you to really listen in to what that’s saying. It seems like from your YouTube video that you published, that was so real for you. Just feeling like this major emotional release in terms of you just crying tears of joy that you’re able to get there with yourself. So awesome.

Andrea: [00:28:29] I definitely think that it gave me like that intuition to tap back into myself, and I learned in my yoga school this month, they have like this acronym for pain as far as like cramps. It’s Pay Attention Inward Now and I really like that because we’re really not supposed to experience like super heavy cramping the way that we do in our world today. And I think a lot of it just has to do with like our society and we’re so go, go, go, especially with females trying to say, “Oh I can do anything a man can do.” And like in reality, like yes we can, absolutely. And how can we bring an intuitive way to that? How can we bring a more open way to that? Because I feel like, obviously there’s biological differences but, as women, I feel like for whatever reason, maybe it is because we have a womb, maybe it is because we menstruate, we have a deeper connection with our bodies because of that. And so I think that sometimes this can be lost because we’re trying to go and go and go in this society and trying to keep up with the grind, we forget to take that time to really tune into ourselves. In other countries, they have days off that they can just menstruate and be with themselves, and we don’t have that here. So I think that we’re just trying to keep up in this, I don’t really want to go to patriarchic, but I mean patriarchic world where everything is just go, go, go. Everything is business. And so I really think that it’s powerful when you can take that power back and take that time for yourself to really tune into what it is that your body is saying. Because, it really is intuitive and I think that as humans, we’re always trying to find a label for things, we’re always trying to find a logical and scientific way that things are the way that they are, when in reality, if we had no worries, if we had no way of being able to speak, we’d be the mammals that we really are and we’d have nothing but intuition to rely on.

Jessica: [00:29:51] So much so, and it all comes in cycles too, like there are moments when you do have to embody more of the masculine and be more of the hammer that you were describing, where you have all these tasks that you have to hit. But there will be a moment in your cycle where you need rest and you need to go back inward and really reflect on, what it is that you’ve taken on during the month, what it is that you need to release so that you can rejuvenate, refresh and start again and go back and be more creative and productive personally. Just like the moon, you know the full moon is kind of when you’re supposed to be at the epic pinnacle of your creative force. And for most women, that’s when you’re ovulating as well. And then you menstruate and it’s more insular and like, you’re right. We don’t really have a society set up to allow us to take those slower paced times. It doesn’t mean that we can’t create them for ourselves. We just have to be proactive about making that space. And the way that you’ve been doing it at home, using your own toilet. Like everyone, well, most privileged people I guess have a toilet, I shouldn’t say everyone. But it can be that simple. And you can even take like twenty minutes, just to really sync in and give yourself that space and time, on your own terms.

Andrea: [00:30:45] Absolutely. I totally agree. Because it does very much work in a cycle. And the more you can take this time to, yes, let your outward energy show, like in your fertile stage or even in ovulation you can have that outward energy but, there comes a time where everything’s reigning in right before menstruation and you really have to take that time to sit with yourself and go inward. It’s so important, like you said, just to see what we’ve taken on and what we really can’t let go of. I think that women who menstruate during the full moon, I don’t necessarily think that they’re off. I’ve read some articles that are like, “Oh, they’re off.” And I don’t necessarily think that. I think what the full moon is doing is shining a light on that inner period of darkness, that inner period of going back into introspection. Whereas, if you’re menstruating during the new moon, then you just have that darkness and you really have that period of integration and introspection and it can really be beautiful and it can also be really beautiful to shine a light on that, if you’re not paying so much attention during the other phases of your cycle.

Jessica: [00:31:33] Yeah definitely. I actually menstruate on the full moon, so I am in what would be considered the opposite phase. But, it’s also considered the witchy, shamanic way.

Andrea: [00:31:36] The healer phase. That makes sense.

Jessica: [00:31:37] Yeah, it’s amazing how universal some of these concepts are. The more people we talk to about it and for so long, talking about your period is like hyper taboo. So it’s great to be able to connect with people through social media and realize, “Oh I’m feeling this way too, aren’t you?” And once, we shine light on those patterns together, we can start to reintegrate all these practices to help us to feed off of them even more and make us more empowered people in the world, spirit world really. It’s kind of like your soul’s voice, it’s just, you get to express itself in the most vibrant way possible. And I think these practices are really helpful for that.

Andrea: [00:32:09] Especially with women, I feel like we feel so alienated sometimes because we go through this cycle of menstruation and we go through issues with just that space in general, that it can be awkward to talk about. It can be awkward to talk about your period, it can be awkward to talk about an odor or something that’s going on, that you’re not really sure what it is. We’re not really taught to talk about it, just like don’t talk about it. It’s not seen, it’s not heard. And so that’s really why I like going to women’s circles and stuff. And so, I’m actually hosting women’s circle here on the next full moon in New Mexico. It’s all about yoni steaming, and the four phases of menstruation and how you can link up to the moon. Then they’ll be making their own yoni steam at the end of that. So I’m really excited to lead something like that and incorporate all aspects of the cycle.

Jessica: [00:32:43] Well that’s awesome. When is that?

Andrea: [00:32:43] The 24th. So on Monday.

Jessica: [00:32:45] Yes, the full moon, great. I am going to blast that out there too. That’s exactly how I learned about vaginal steaming myself. I was at a women’s circle on Summer Solstice, I think two summers ago now, where the leader of the circle started talking about yoni steaming and had each of us make our own little sachet of herbs at the end and that was the first time I had tried it and even heard of the concept. I think learning about it in circle too is so great, because everyone’s already in this hyper vulnerable place and we’re all sharing information about how to heal ourselves and find more avenues of self-care. You get so much love from being in circle but also when we can still have like our own inner circle, deep inside of this body and how to better nourish it. So I’m so glad you’re doing that over there too.

Andrea: [00:33:17] I am excited.

Jessica: [00:33:17] Have you hosted that type of circle before?

Andrea: [00:33:19] Not with yoni steams. I host women circles, and I just hosted a cookout ceremony last week. It’s just super powerful, I love being able to gather with women. It’s definitely what I feel like, one of my soul’s calling is to definitely just gather with women, allow them to be vulnerable, give them a space where they feel like they can be open and share. Also it’s like that confidentiality. Like, this is getaway space, so whatever it is that needs to come out for you, needs to come through for you here, you have the space to do that. I definitely don’t think that yoni steaming will be the last time that I incorporate that into my spaces. It’s something new and I’m excited to try it and see the reactions and take that as a workshop somewhere else. In different states.

Jessica: [00:33:46] Are the women that attend your circles typically in the same group or are you always pulling in people from different walks of life?

Andrea: [00:33:51] I feel like I’m a very versatile person, so I just pull a bunch of different people from all walks of life. There are some that are pretty consistent in coming and there are people that are already kind of integrated in this type of community, and they’re also really beautiful souls who come in and have never experienced anything like that. So it’s a good mixture of both.

Jessica: [00:34:08] That’s great. So when you explain to them what vaginal steaming is and have them select their herbs, have other women there, do you think that they’ve done this before, or will it be, you’re introducing it to them for the first time?

Andrea: [00:34:13] I think a lot of them, it’ll be the first time introducing it to them. So my best friend, the one that I was talking about ,she and I are going to be hosting this together and she will be talking about like the history of yoni steam and she’ll be going over all of the herbs and then we’ll just kind of have them intuitively feel whichever ones that they need for their steam, they can make into their own little steam and then they can take a steam home with them and share their experiences with us, hopefully in the next circle.

Jessica: [00:34:34] Are you guys working with dried herbs primarily or will you use fresh herbs as well?

Andrea: [00:34:37] Dried herbs. She has dried all of the herbs out and then we’ll be taking a few more from our local store that we have around us as well. So everything will be dried.

Jessica: [00:34:42] Thanks Andy. This is great. I don’t have any more questions for you but is there anything more you want to share with them, I’m happy to listen. Any parting words of female wisdom empowerment on our fall equinox?

Andrea: [00:34:50] I just feel like, it’s so important to tune into the body and it’s so important to take that power back where we lost it and we’ve tried to adapt to this world when really, we don’t have to, and it’s okay to make our own space. It’s okay to make our own rituals. It’s okay to tap back into this ability that we have to really tune into ourselves and tune into our own cycles and tap into the cycles of the earth. They very much reflect our own inner cycles. And so I think that the more that we can take our power back and being able to do that, the more that we can collectively come together and start to do that and maybe teach them how to do the same thing. Living with the earth and how important that is. I definitely think it’s an ancient tradition that has been lost. And I think it’s something that we’re slowly starting to find again. So I definitely think that it’s so empowering to be able to say, “I feel this way, I’ve done this steam, and I’ve taken this part back of myself. You know, this trauma that I’ve been living with for so long, it’s finally been healed.” And so, how powerful can that be?

Jessica: [00:35:42] Even to witness that for yourself, you know. And you being the solo witness of that act, it’s just such an amazing thing to make space for. So, thank you for articulating that so well and I very much look forward to keeping in touch about your goals and about all the work that you’re doing. Really, it’s perfectly in line with what we’re doing over here too. So that’s also super encouraging, all the synergy between all of us women doing this type of work and men too. So, we’ll be talking soon I’m sure.

Andrea: [00:36:04] Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.

Jessica: [00:36:06] Thanks Andy. Talk to you soon.

Andrea: [00:36:07] We’ll talk to you soon. Bye bye.