wellness

"I spent 20 minutes lying on a 'bed of spikes' in the name of relaxation. And it worked."

It was a Saturday night and instead of sharing a few wines with friends, I found myself lying on a bed of prickly nails with nothing but a light t-shirt on for protection against the 6000 spikes pressing into my back.

The product in question is called the Shakti Mat.

The brainchild of two New Zealand friends, the wellness tool incorporates aspects of acupressure and promises to give the user enhanced relaxation, better sleep, increased circulation and pain relief from tight muscles. Although you can stand or rest select body parts on the mat, it advises you to lie on the mat, butt naked (ideally) for 20 to 30 minutes daily before bed.

The sharp points work in a similar way to acupuncture needles by increasing blood flow to a certain area which releases pain and tension, making it a wonder for sore muscles. There’s also the meditative element that comes from resting on the mat, which is particularly effective at calming the mind before bed. Especially if you’re bedtime ritual more often than not involves a lengthy Instagram scroll.

But first things first, make no mistake, the 6000 plastic spikes are sharp. Like really sharp.

The first time I used my Shakti Mat, I had just taken a hot shower (do not do this) and upon – gently – lying down on the mat’s many, many sharp spikes I was greeted with an equally sharp pain. So much so that I gave up after a minute. After a few more failed attempts, I finally resorted to wearing a thin t-shirt – which Shakti actually recommends for newbies, I was just too stubborn – and the experience was SO MUCH BETTER.

Shakti mat review
Make no mistake. These are very sharp.

While I could still feel the sharp pricks against my skin, the sensation was more akin to discomfort over pain. I then spent the next 20 minutes intently listening to a podcast without a second screen to distract me and when my phone timer indicated that my 20 minute session was over, I was already blissfully ready for bed and did actually experience a much deeper sleep than normal. Although this could be due to the fact that I 'properly relaxed' my way into sleep, instead of opting for an Instagram-scroll-induced slumber.

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At the time of testing the product I was also struggling with a strained lower back - the result of a running injury - and to my surprise the pain had completely dissipated after my 20 minute session. While it did return the morning after, I still greatly appreciated the temporary relief.

You can also use the mat as a 'bolster' for your neck and shoulders (just place it over a pillow) or stand on it too (which gives you a 'boost of energy' thanks to all the pressure points in your feet).

While I can't see myself standing on the met for the entire recommended five minutes, there is something to be said for the unique, 'ticklish' feeling you get, which gives you a jolt of energy from the odd sensation alone.

Having tried all three methods, I still preferred lying on the mat the most, thanks to its relaxing properties.

Shakti mat review
It's oddly addictive.

At $69, the Shakti Mat isn't exactly cheap, but what you do get is a relaxing treatment you can use over and over again for less than the cost of a massage. I can also imagine it being particularly handy for exercise fiends who suffer from tight muscles.

The brand also prides itself on its moral manufacturing policies and all of its products are made by women in India who are given "good pay, good hours, daily meals, free medical care, sick pay, time off for weddings and other events, and a safe and happy work environment," as the website states.

Shakti also offers a 60-day returns policy (minus the cost of return postage), just in case you don't get along with the mat.

So is the pain worth it? In my opinion yes, but if in doubt, put on a darn t-shirt and work your way up to full experience. Your back will thank you.

Have you ever tried a Shakti Mat or something similar? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

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