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Doula Creates Vaginal Steam Haven for Richmond Community

Aqiylah Collins of Richmond, Virginia offers vaginal steam services at her wellness center. A doula and reiki practitioner, Collins started offering vaginal steam services to her menu and has seen a huge increase in demand and positive response from her clients. We interview Aqiylah to learn more.

What is your profession?

I am an Integrative Health Practitioner and owner of Qi To Wellness, a wellness practice focused on supporting women in the areas of energy, health and womb wellness.

Where did you go to school or get your professional training?

I've studied the intersection women, faith and healing (Marylhurst U), nutrition and coaching (Institute for Integrative Nutrition), Reiki and chakras (Reiki Blessings Academy), and trained in doula support (International Center for Traditional Childbirth). I am currently enrolled at the Peristeam Hydrotherapy Institute, and working on a dual degree (Naturopathy and Tibb medicine) at Avicenna Institute.

How long have you been practicing?

After a near-fatal ectopic pregnancy in my early 20s, an emergency room physician encouraged me to research natural health. I self-studied nutrition, herbs, breathwork, and prayer for 20 years, changed my own health path and helped family and friends. In 2003 I branched out professionally as a self-care advocate, and founded Qi To Wellness.

How did you learn about vaginal steaming?

A friend visiting our home offered me a vaginal steam session. During the steam I could literally feel something shifting within. The experience was wonderfully soothing, both physically and spiritually. And in the days that followed, I experienced less dryness and felt very much at peace yet rejuvenated. It was way more than I expected! Shortly afterwards, Monisha Garner, a friend and Colon Hydrotherapist in Torrance, CA, told me about Steamy Chick. I enrolled in the initial Vaginal Steam Facilitator course to learn to about therapeutic steams for women.

Do you use vaginal steaming yourself?

Yes! I started with steaming for 5 consecutive days, then moved to weekly steams. Steaming has become a welcome self-care ritual, the one I most look forward to each week.

What has your personal experience with steaming been?

Generally, I find it to be extremely relaxing and centering but also healing of menopause symptoms - hot flashes, insomnia, and (hair, skin, vaginal) dryness. I chose herbs that cool and moisturize, and after that first week experienced noticeable improvement, and eventual elimination of those symptoms altogether. Steaming is the only therapy I've used that remedied these symptoms, completely and naturally. Is there a symptom-free-menopause anniversary chip? LOL!

Why did you decide to offer this service to women?

My nutrition and Reiki clients often mention their struggles with menstrual and reproductive problems manifesting as heavy bleeding, irregular cycles, infections, and pain, as well as the hormonal aftermath of birth, hysterectomy and menopause. Until now, the options have been extremely limited, ineffective long term, or truly life altering. Currently, long-term drug or device use with potential risk of undesirable (and in some cases, horrific) side effects, extreme procedures, and vital organ removal. Each option misses the point of addressing the root cause and seek to simply manage symptoms in drastic ways. As a result, women regularly succumb to radical surgeries, put their health at risk on drugs, or simply suffer in silence. I’m also keenly aware of the lack of education around proper reproductive and menstrual self care that should begin in childhood. With appropriate guidance and support (for proper steam protocols and herbs), vaginal steaming is positioned to revolutionize women’s healthcare! So, as an advocate of self care and women’s health, there really is no option but to offer this service to women. And I’m very impassioned and excited to be in this space!

How long have you been offering vaginal steam services and where?

I started offering the vaginal steam consultations and sessions as a service in the summer of 2017 at my wellness studio, Qi To Wellness, in the West End of Richmond, VA. Since women started coming from as far as North Carolina and Washington, D.C., I now made phone/video consultation and support (herbs, saunas, protocols) available to women everywhere. Some invest in my steam kits to use regularly at home.

What benefits do vaginal steam services have for your clients?

Oh my goodness! My postpartum clients are reporting quicker weight loss, shorter post-birth bleeding, and a return to their pre-pregnancy bodies. My post-hysterectomy and post-menopause clients (and their partners!) are ecstatic over the relief from dryness, hot flashes, and a renewed sex life after a return of their libido. Others have established normal menstrual cycles, eliminated period pain, and released negative energies they were holding on to. Although some women experience relief after just one steam session, others require regular steaming over a few cycles to reach their desired results. I think most clients enjoy the safe space to discuss and learn about proper, sensible period care (for themselves and their

daughters), fertility and menopause. And I love holding a sacred space for women to discuss this part of themselves and creating their healing protocol. It’s so exciting to see the lights go on as we discuss what’s happening with their body!

How do clients respond when you offer them vaginal steam services?

Vaginal steaming is still a new concept in Richmond, so “what EXACTLY is a vaginal steam?” is a common question. Behind the question are some misconceptions - that it's painful or a trendy gimmick, but most just don’t understand the purpose. Those with strong ties to their homeland or cultural roots, often have first-hand knowledge or experience, or heard of vaginal steam through an elder or family stories.

Any favorite quotes from clients either during or after steaming?

“Not sure what I expected but it’s very soothing, like an internal healing bath.”

“My partner wants to know what day I steam so they can be ready!”

“After 2 months my cycle is finally regular and I’m ovulating again!”

"The dryness is gone and sex is no longer painful."

“Can I steam every day?!”

Do any vaginal steam success stories stand out where the client had a significant health breakthrough?

Yes, there are two cases that stand out. The first is a postpartum mother of four who decided to start a 30-day postpartum steam protocol when her baby was two days old. She fell completely in love after just one steam, saying that "all the swelling down there is gone and I can already tell what's-what again!!". Three days later her post-birth bleeding had ended, her abdomen had gone down significantly, and she had no pain or discomfort. At the end of her 30 days, she committed to doing weekly steams until her baby is a year old through my 'Postpartum Steam Kit Loaner' program.

The other case is a postmenopausal (full hysterectomy and no HRT) client who was experiencing zero libido with severe vaginal dryness and small internal abrasions during intercourse. The pain was so traumatic that she found sex “abusive” (her word). Additionally, she was constantly torn between deep concerns for her physical comfort and the impact on her long-term relationship. We found the right herbs and steam protocol, worked through her anxiety with chakra clearing, breath work, and visualizations, and after 3 steam sessions she reported having enjoyable sex for the first time in 3 years! She continues to steam regularly and gradually other positive physical and emotional shifts have occurred. Her healing process has been similar to birth, and amazing to witness. It's an incredible feeling to bring this healing to women!

For more information:

Aqiylah Collins, TN, CHC, RMT, Doula

Qi To Wellness
1899 Billingsgate Circle
Suite E
Henrico, VA 23238
804.977.1779

www.QiToWellness.com