Fancy lying down on a bed of sharp spikes? No? Think again, say fans of the Shakti mat, a square of cushiony cloth with rows of prickly plastic discs.
Based on the ancient ayurvedic 'bed of nails', the mats are designed to boost blood circulation and gently stimulate pressure points. Technically called an acupressure mat, the relaxation aid is also known by the brand names of shakti mat, pranamat or spoonk mat just as tissues are often called "kleenex".
While it pays to start slowly - we won't lie, the mat stings the first few times you try it - the burn soon gives way to a massaging sensation, and you certainly feel revitalised afterwards.
Even better, regular users say it helps with everything from insomnia to headaches.
Here are some simple ways to get started:
Standing on the mat is an effective way to stimulate the sensitive pressure points of the feet, which leaves you feeling like you've had a foot massage. Try standing on the mat in socks first before building up to bare feet, or get used to it gradually by resting your feet on the mat while sitting on a chair.
Lying on the mat can not only ease back pain, it also makes you so relaxed you may even fall asleep on it! Start by sitting upright with the mat behind you, before slowing lowering yourself backwards onto the spikes. It might burn initially, but it's worth persevering. Trust us.
If your legs are achy from a workout, try sitting on the floor with your calves resting on the mat. It's great for tight muscles, and if you're prone to aches a few days after a workout, regular use can also lessen the severity of delayed onset muscle soreness.
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