History often repeats itself, especially when we’ve done good. In India, yogis have been privy to the healing effects of the ancient bed of nails for centuries. This practice is known as acupressure.Â Finally the western world is catching on, and just when we need it! With modern day stress, we are in dire need of methods of relaxation.
The modern day version of the yogis’ bed of nails, is an organic hemp mat, filled with plant based eco-foam, and dotted with non-toxic plastic “flowers.” Each flower is covered with sharp spikes. There are over 6000 of these spikes on each organic mat, which is playfully named The Spoonk Mat.
When you lay down on the mat, so your weight is evenly distributed, it is only mildly irritating at first, and not painful.Â The spikes stimulate your pressure points. You will find that your skin will start to warm up naturally! This is caused by the increased blood flow, that brings oxygen to your body’s cells more quickly. An ancient Chinese proverb says: “Where there’s pain there is no circulation – where there is circulation there is no pain.”
It is this increase in circulation that has given millions of users relief. Just recently, the USA Triathlon Coach and Ironman athlete, Humberto Olivo, claimed that after a hard brick training session (cycling and running), he laid down on his Spoonk mat for just 15 minutes, and soon his “legs and back felt so relaxed it was amazing.” He says that he will continue using the mat as a great tool after any hard training session, and will be recommending it to all of his athletes!Â He plans to bring the mats to his September 2012 training camp in Italy.
The mats have been such a hit in Sweden, that now every one in three households owns one. They sell them everywhere from supermarkets to gas stations. It’s also hugely popular in Russia and Finland.
The list of ailments acupressure mats have been said to alleviate is lengthy; arthritis, anorexia, overeating, addictions, cellulite, depression, insomnia, back pain, headaches, impotence, etc.
One theory as to why the device touches on such a wide range of conditions, is that it increases endorphins and serotonin in the brain. These are the body’s “feel good” tools. When we have more of them floating around, we are better able to heal ourselves from the inside out. We are more powerful, stronger, and more alive.
Even Dr. Oz has mentioned that the serotonin release caused by the mat’s stimulation can help lower belly fat. This is because fat is often stored due to high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.Â Serotonin makes us feel so good that our stress melts away, presumably, along with our fat.
One of my favourite ways to use the mat is to stand on it (with or without socks on), and swing my arms in the same direction in unison, from side to side, allowing them to slap against my kidneys – an exercise from the practice of Chi Kung. This helps to detoxify internal organs, and feels like I’m a kid on a ride! The added benefit of standing on the mat has a euphoric effect in my body.Â Add in some great music, and vanilla candles, and you’ll think you’re in heaven my friend!Â A natural high for sure.
The most popular method employed is to lay down on the mat with your bare back (try a thin shirt at first if desired), and stay there for upwards of 30 minutes. Your back will become hot, and your muscles will slip into a deep relaxation. This is a perfect routine just before bed. Many claim that this practice leads to a deep, rejuvenating sleep.
Currently UBC is conducting a sleep study using acupressure mats. We are sure they will come up with some very interesting findings.