I was first introduced to this magical, highly effective self-care tool - known as the Shakti Mat - by my yoga teacher Suzi. Following a conversation about good ways to relax before bedtime, she arrived in class the next day and handed me a bright-orange, spongy mat with little white circular points all over it.
“This is a Shakti Mat,” she said, presenting it to me with that knowing look she often gives. “Borrow mine and see how you go.” She recommended my hubby and I try lying on the Shakti Mat each evening (with a bolster under our legs).
Originally created in Sweden by Yogi Om Mokshananda, the mat has 6,000 acupressure points and uses the same principles as a bed of nails. The points work to apply consistent pressure to the muscles and skin. This helps the body and mind descend into a deep state of relaxation.
It is also a highly effective tool for athletes to help muscles recover from injury and, internally, for improving blood circulation and oxygen and nutrient delivery.
That night, my hubby and I couldn’t wait to give it a whirl. After brushing our teeth (our night-time routine that helps us signal, “we’re ready for bed”), we unrolled the yoga mat and put down the Shakti.
I’ll never forget the feeling of unfurling my spine along that mat for the first time. Like you imagine lying on a bed of nails would be, for the first minute it pinched and felt uncomfortable. Three minutes in and I began to experience unfamiliar sensations.
By five minutes, I could feel the acupressure points descending me into serious relaxation - the kind I’d only ever experienced after a 90-minute yoga class.
I let out an audible sigh, my breathing had slowed to a gentle undulating rhythm, my neck and back felt alive, as though millions of tiny fingers were running up, down and around my spine, all knowing exactly where to push. At 10 minutes, I was so relaxed, I was basically asleep. Five minutes later, I was.
For my husband, it took a bit of time to be able to stay on the mat comfortably. At first, when you’re not used to it, the process can feel a little painful. But he persisted.
By night three, he was laying on the mat for 5-10 minutes and the following morning waking up noticeably refreshed. He also reported how quickly it improved the circulation in his legs (an issue he’s forever struggled with). After a week, he came home one day and said, “I feel very different and the only thing I can put it down to is lying on the Shakti Mat.”
The shakti experience has been so good for us that, within a week, we’d purchased our own and now it’s a delicious, regular part of our night-time routine that we both look forward to. For my husband, it’s given him a level of rest and relaxation he’s never experienced before. For me, it’s as effective as having a float or intense body work/massage.
As a yogi, I love to use it at the end of my practice where I lie on it in Savāsana or sit on it when I want to descend quickly into deep meditation.
As a writer, I love the origin of the word Shakti, which in Sanskrit is a feminine principle that symbolises empowerment, abundance and change.
We’re so thankful this #goodthing was brought to New Zealand by a couple of young enterprising Kiwi blokes, who had a chance meeting with the Swedish inventor and decided to bring this effective, ethical self-care tool to us. The product is made from 100% organic cotton, plant-based dyes and non-toxic ABS Plastic.
They are a #goodbusiness too with their workshop in Varanasi, India run by skilled women, who are looked after properly, paid well with holidays and free healthcare. In 2018, Team Shakti gave scholarships to nine girls from the families of their workers.
Now we want to help them spread the word ‘cause we know from experience that Shakti Mats are really good for you.
Yours In Health and Happiness, KB x
HOW TO USE A SHAKTI MAT
Lie on it on your back for 20 minutes. Good Tip: This is a really lovely thing to do in bed before you sleep!
Place it under sore, tired legs for 10 minutes, elevated on a cushion. I used this when I had a groin injury and it was highly effective for getting the blood flowing into the area, especially when the injury was in its acute phase.
For deep acupressure action, stand on it with your feet. They recommend five minutes, I usually can only last a few!
Roll it up and turn it into a pillow. Lay on it for a few minutes.