Wellness: I tested a Shakti Mat and here is what laying on a bed of "nails" actually did for me
Confession: When it comes to things that promises to make me healthier, I am all in.
As in; I am that person. Who religiously reads Goop. Who has a kitchen cabinet filled with vitamin tablets and superfood powders. Who considers bringing my Vitamix blender on holidays with me. You know, that one.
Which is why, when I got an offer recently to road test a Shakti Mat – basically a modern version of the Indian ‘bed of nails’, I jumped at the chance.
Prior to getting my hands on one, I had come across plenty of articles and posts on the various benefits using a Shakti mat could have. For instance, many claim it helped them lower their stress, others hailed it a miracle worker in terms of improving sleep. And some even said it had helped them lift their mood and feel happier – as the mat helped trigger endorphins.
In other words, clearly I had to try it out.
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What is a Shakti mat?
Just in case you haven't come across one before, the original Shakti Mat is a padded acupressure mat featuring 6000 (yes, really) pressure points (tiny plastic spikes). It may look like a torture device, but will have the rather opposite effect once you get used to using one.
In much the same way as with acupuncture, that Shakti Mat's spikes will put pressure to points on your skin and the muscles beneath it, be it your back, neck or even feet, and will then stimulate the release of endorphins and a range of other calming hormones. As well as this, the spikes will also help increase the blood and lymph circulation in your body.
The use of acupressure to heal and detoxify the body is an ancient Indian practise, and is said to help the body heal itself, while helping to balance the body, mind and spirit.
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Who’s tried Shakti-ing on their legs⁉️ The best thing about The Shakti Mat is there really are no limits! Your entire body can benefit ?. . ? Acupressure improves circulation, flushes out toxins, increases joint lubrication and motion, and relaxes muscles ? . Use The Shakti Mat on your legs after any activity with high demand on hamstrings, calf muscles, or quadriceps ?♂️. You can either do it before bed, or incorporate it into your stretch and recovery routine immediately after exercise. . ▪️ Apply pressure to the area you want to target ▪️ Use thin clothing or against bare skin ▪️ Try for anywhere between 2-40 minutes ⏱ // ? @nomoremediocreme • • #shaktimat #acupressuretherapy #masseuse #recoverytools #injuryrecovery #naturalremedy #hurtssogood #healthhacks #goodforyou #shaktisport #loveyourbody #endorphins #ShaktiSelfCare #acupressure #acupressuremat
Here is how I got on
Having had it for a couple of weeks, just sitting in my hallway, much to the amuse of my children, who would take it out and dare each other to stand on it in their bare feet, I decided I would give the mat an actual try – and use it for 20 minutes every evening before bed.
So on that first evening, I lit some candles, dimmed the lights and, wearing just a thin t-shirt and yoga pants, I put the Skakti Mat down on the sofa (apparently, it is good to use it on a softer surface than the floor to begin with) and gently lowered myself onto it, so that my back and shoulders were on the mat.
I wouldn't say it was directly painful, as I had the thin fabric of the t-shirt as a protective layer between my skin and the mat, but it was certainly uncomfortable for the first few minutes, and those spikes seemed far sharper than what I had thought. In the end, I only managed about eight minutes, but was determined to try again the next day.
Over the next two evenings, I got more used to the sensation in my skin from the spikes. While still not what I would describe as comfortable, laying on the mat was not painful, and once I managed more than a few minutes, I started to notice how I would get this warm and prickly sensation in my skin where it touched the mat, and getting up from it, I did feel super chilled-out and suddenly so very sleepy.
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Who's ready for some weekend R&R?? ✨☕️ - this is a repost from @lifeinecht "Sunday evenings are my favourite. All about that relaxation and self love ? ? I've been major tired today, yawning all over the show with a couple of naps thrown in there ? after a fresh dinner and a lie on my Shakti, I'm set for an early night ✨" ⠀ ⠀ Have a good weekend everyone! Almost time to kick back and get cosy ??
By night five I was actually starting to look forward to my little 20 minute of 'me-time' on the mat in the evening. And at this point, I had noticed that not only did the spikes not feel uncomfortable anymore, I was now starting to enjoy the sensation they produced. And not only that, I had definitively noticed a change to my quality of sleep as well.
I have always been notorious for staying up too late, often because, as most mums, by the time I get my children to bed, I am longing for some grown-up time, and so instead of going to bed when I start to feel tired around 9-10pm, I will force myself to stay up just 'a little bit longer' just so I can feel like I have enjoyed the peace and quiet a sleeping house brings.
However, when using the Shakti Mat, I got such an overwhelming feeling if relaxation and deep tiredness, I actually took myself off to bed once I got up from the mat – meaning not only was I now getting another hour or so of sleep every night, my sleep also, somehow felt deeper and better, and I woke up feeling more rested and filled with energy than I had in ages.
After a week, I got properly hooked. After using the mat for a week, we went down and country and stayed overnight in a friend's house, and come bedtime, I realised I was actually wishing I had brougth the mat with me.
As for what it does; I would say for me, it has definitively made a difference to my sleep, and because of that, also my energy levels the following day. Being a journalist and spending a large part of my day hunched over a laptop, I would say the mat has also helped ease my often tense neck and shoulders too, which again has helped improve my sleep, I think.
Another thing – I think just taking those 20 minutes in the evening has been good for me in terms of slowing down and letting go of stress and distractions too. It is 'me time' that sort of serves an extra purpose, if you get me, and I have started to really look forward to my little before-bed ritual.
I have also slowly started using it on my feet in the morning – as in; I stand on the mat for a couple of minutes in my bare feet – and afterwards, feel like I have had an actual foot massage.
Reflexology is based on the principle that the anatomy of the body is reflected on reflex zones on the feet, hands and ears, and by using the mat on your feet, you are essentially stimulating or sedating a reflex zone what then triggers a response in the corresponding area of the body. I'm not going to lie, it does feel a little bit painful to begin with, but then you'll get this warming feeling in your feet and toes, and it seems to spread and creep up your legs too.
A feel-good buy
If you, like me, care about where the products you buy come from and the ethos of the company, you are going to love the story of the Shakti Mat.
The Shakti journey began in 2014, when New Zealand founders, Jon and George fell in love with the Shakti Mat and its alignment with ethical and effective selfcare.
The home of The Shakti Mat and the heart of production today lies in the holy city of Varanasi, India. The mats are handmade by 72 local women in an all-female purpose-built workshop. Shakti aspire to provide a space where welfare and community take priority over production, a community where employees feel empowered. The word Shakti itself smybolises empowerment, abundance and change. It is with these very principles that Shakti run their Indian workshop. All Shakti women are paid a living wage, work relaxed hours, are provided daily meals, receive free medical care, an emergency medical fund for themselves and their families aswell as paid sick and holidays.
As for the environmental aspect, the Shakti Mats are made from 100 percent organic cotton and are ethically produced using organically certified dyes and first-class, recyclable ABS plastic.
Fancy trying one for yourself? The Shakti Mat costs €59 and is available to order here.