The motto at Tikkun Spa in Santa Monica is, “Heal your asshole. Heal yourself. Heal the world.”
At least, it should be.
The holistic spa’s actual motto is “Heal yourself. Heal the world.” But the spa boasts a signature “A-steam” treatment that makes the asshole-healing addition just as accurate.
An “A-steam,” or “P-steam” as it’s known at some spas, in honor of one’s perineum (i.e., taint), is the equivalent of the yoni steam for people without yonis (“yoni” is the Sanskrit word for female genitals). Yoni steaming is an ancient health-and-wellness practice that’s experienced a resurgence in popularity in this post-Goop age, in which consumers like myself—relentlessly desperate to be healthier and happier—will try any method of detoxification, purification and activation that’s sold to us as both historically viable and celebrity-endorsed.
Sure, gynecologists have spoken out against the necessity of vaginal steaming, describing the vagina as a “self-cleaning oven,” but what do they know? Besides, as we’ve reported over and over and over again, most men totally suck at cleaning their ass.
The A-steam and V-steam are facilitated in the exact same way at Tikkun, which is owned by Niki Han Schwarz, a reiki master, and her husband Charles Schwarz, an orthopedic surgeon. First, you slip into a stately, sleeveless robe with a velcro strap that adjusts around a man’s waist and a woman’s chest. Next, you spread your gown and cheeks as you take a seat on a luxurious throne. The throne looks like a toilet, but it’s padded with towels and outfitted with an infrared light that sends extreme warmth up and around your respective cavities. The light is what heats the steam, which isn’t simply water but an herbal tea made of mugwort, an herb with healing and antibacterial properties. Meanwhile, your feet rest on a towel-lined block that heated steam is also funneled through.
At Tikkun, four or five of these thrones are permanently installed in a single speciality steam room, with walls made of beautiful green jade, where you’re served tea (a Lipton-equivalent, not the same one that’s infiltrating your anus) and offered magazines while you wait. You’re not encouraged to relieve yourself on these spa chairs nor to get off of them if the sensation is too warm. A remote controls the heat on your bottom and feet, allowing you to alter the intensity throughout the 30-minute session. (If you need to cool down a little, you’re instructed to fan yourself with your gown.) If you have a dick, you tuck it away from the hot seat to ensure it won’t dip into the water and get hurt (as well as fuck up your fertility).
I decided to go steam with my boyfriend, Bryan, 29, on a Wednesday evening after we completed our long days of work and school. Bryan had never been to a spa before, never waxed and probably never thought he was going to fall in love with someone who constantly insisted on trying new ways of healing. But after sending him a Wikipedia link about vaginal steaming and asking if he wanted to try out the male equivalent, he hit me with a simple, “Sure babe.” I booked our appointments immediately.
“It feels like a fire has been lit under your ass, and your whole bottom gets warm and makes you sweat like crazy,” Bryan says. I certainly can’t refute his description. It was hot as fuck sitting on that throne, but there was something sacred-feeling about the experience, too. “This is a magic room,” the spa’s manager told us at the start of the session, emphasizing that the space was for both hygiene and releasing stress and emotional trauma.
“Doing it with a partner is such a great experience,” Bryan reports. “It feels so intimate to communicate with each other while going through the process together. In a weird way, the steaming really made me relax and be reflective about all of the positive things I appreciate about my life, as well as what I want out of it. The gown they gave us also gave me a feeling of royalty that was fun.”
The royalty thing is no coincidence. Although Gwyneth Paltrow has popularized yoni steaming in recent years, its process was actually formulated for a Chinese emperor. As expected, though, his methodology was a little more rustic, as he sat atop a steaming bowl of herbs while seated on his actual, ruling throne.
Either way, the potential positive side effects are enormous and wide-ranging. For one, mugwort is known to regulate digestion, alleviate stomach discomfort and cure hemorrhoids. It’s also said to reduce muscle tension and inflammation, improve one’s cardiovascular capacity and provide an energy boost. Not to mention, it’s similar to melatonin in its natural ability to induce an extremely restful sleep. And obviously it can steam-clean your ass as well, in preparation for a dick, sex toy or fingers to enter more tidily.
On the esoteric side of things, your ass and vagina are both associated with your root chakra, the lowest of your chakras, which relates to your sensations of groundedness and primal foundation. A blocked root chakra is often the result of time spent in “survival mode” without a sense of having true roots. Thus, healing your root chakra with your partner accesses powerful feelings of bonding and unity. It certainly did for me. Bryan also told me my yoni tasted more watery after the treatment, meaning by receiving oral sex later that night I was actually hydrating him with the tea steam. That’s the new foundation to our love.
I didn’t have hemorrhoids to heal in order to track any instant effects, but Bryan and I both enjoyed the best sleep we’d had in some time that night, waking up bright-eyed and refreshed. Our skin looked great, too, from all that steam. And even if nobody could see it—besides maybe each other—we relished the new day knowing our bottom bits were sparkling clean. Whether it was the presence of all that jade, the sinus-clearing properties of the steam room, the emotional intimacy we felt sitting on those thrones or the clay and quartz rooms we meditated in afterward, it was definitely the best, and most healing, date we’d been on.
So again, I can’t say it enough: “Heal your asshole. Heal yourself. Heal the world.”
Tierney Finster is a contributing writer at MEL. She last wrote about whether or not there will ever be a booze that can get you high.