If you're interested in holistic treatments and fancy a bit of 'at home' self-care, you might like the Shakti acupuncture mat. Here's how I felt after using it for two weeks
Imagine lying down upon a bed of needles. Now imagine all of your stresses drifting away. That's kind of what using a Shakti acupuncture mat is like.
For the past two weeks, I've been (bravely) testing it to see if it improves my sleep quality and/or relieves the stress from my shoulders. Other people use it to promote healthy circulation, relax tense muscles, and for overall wellness and general vitality.
While it took me a while to get into it (on the first night I thought, 'what on earth am I doing') – 14 days later, I'll never look back.
What is a 'Shakti' mat?
Shakti acupuncture mats are similar (in a way) to yoga mats; the difference is they feature thousands of small spikes which apply pressure to the skin and muscles.
The word 'Shakti' is a Sanskrit principle, symbolising female empowerment, abundance and change. The mats are handmade by 72 incredible women in India, in a specially built workshop where welfare and community take priority over mat production.
All of the 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, as well as paid sick and holiday leave.
Owners Jon and George say, "Our intention is to bring fulfilment and positive change to everyone who comes in contact with the Shakti Mat – from craftswoman to customer and beyond."
The mats are 100% organic cotton and are ethically produced using organically certified dyes and first-class, recyclable ABS plastic.
When it comes to self-care and wellness, I'll try anything at least once. When I heard there was a mat that could give acupuncture-like results at home, I had to give it a go.
The Shakti mat can be used in a variety of ways to target different acupuncture points (such as on the feet, neck, shoulders and back). As I wanted to tackle my poor sleep quality (not to mention tension in my shoulder muscles) I used mine while lying flat on my bedroom floor.
In the interest of full discloser – my first time using the mat was not smooth sailing. Wearing just a sports bra, the sharpness of the spikes caught me by surprise (I don't know what I was expecting) and I found it hard to settle into it. While I aimed to use it for 20 minutes, I only managed a few moments on my first go.
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Night two, onwards
By night two, I was ready. This time, I wore a light t-shirt to create a barrier. Yes, it was still quite intense and prickly, but not as severe as night one.
In terms of stress relief – it worked. My attention became so focused on the tingly sensation in my back that all other worries left my head. Within 10 minutes, my breathing had slowed down and my eyelids felt heavy.
What was once an almost painful sensation in my back became a warm, relaxing feeling. Before I knew it, I was falling asleep.
After 20 minutes, I pulled myself up from the mat and saw my back was bright red; with small pin-pricks where the spikes had pressed against my skin. I then climbed into bed for a long, restful sleep.
From then on, I've used the Shakti mat every night before bed. I've even managed to start using it without a t-shirt barrier.
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Overall, I think the Shakti mat (€59) is worth the investment. After all, I got the results I set out to achieve.
If it's something you're considering, I recommend trying it for at least a week before making up your mind. If I had only used it the first night, I probably would have given up – but my two-week commitment gave me a chance to adapt and embrace it.
And, if nothing else, the Shakti mat gives me a chance to focus on me each day. For those 20 minutes, I'm away from my glaring phone screen; I'm away from my to-do list; away from it all. For that alone, I think it's worth it.
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