My First Time: What's the Deal With Wellness Mats?
- Written By:Anjali Kumar
In her column for Just Bobbi, author, advisor and attorney Anjali Kumar is willing to try anything in the name of wellness (at least once).
I am the kind of person who feels like the new year is meant to bring a jolt of inspiration and energy to everything I do. Every January 1st, I genuinely think perhaps THIS will be the year I start running or spinning or enjoying protein shakes instead of pizza and will make massive strides in my career by leaning in so much that I fall over onto the table.
But as the events of the past months continue to take their toll, the wise words of one of my favorite comedians Ali Wong resonate deeply: “I don't want to lean in. I just want to lie DOWN.”
I'm right there with you Ali.
I have been sitting in my apartment for what feels like an endless loop of work-cook-dishes-work-homeschool-cook more-dishes-sleep-try to shower-was that a panic attack-sleep. (Is it the second Blursday of Foreveruary yet?) And with very little reason to leave the house these days, I figured I should take advantage of my (laying) down time and get some wellness into the mix.
Enter wellness mats. Basically an excuse to lay down on something that is supposed to do good things for you while you do...nothing. Sign me up.
I test drove three of them, generously provided by the makers: the Shakti Mat, the HigherDOSE Infrared PEMF Mat and the HealthyLine Rainbow InfraMat Pro.
The verdict? Laying down is the new Friday night.
Every time I reached into the bag to pull out the Shakti Mat I would manage to cut myself.
This should not have been a surprise given that the Shakti Mat is a daily self-care tool based on an Indian bed of nails. So admittedly I put off trying this one for a while because I was a little scared it would hurt. OK a lot scared. Even though I have done acupuncture at different points in my life and love it, there was something different about laying down on a mat full of sharp pokey things and thinking this was a good idea.
But by applying pressure to skin and muscles through the thousands of sharp spikes, the Shakti Mat promises to support restful sleep, relaxation, mental clarity and well-being in just 20 minutes. Things I could use some more of these days.
I took off my shirt (the makers note that you get the most benefits by laying on the mat with your bare back) and gently lay my back onto the mat. I spent the next 10 seconds screaming "ow ow owowow" as what I was pretty sure were ten thousand tiny razor blades being scratched on to my back and sat right back up. I read the instructions again and watched an instructional video I found on YouTube, both of which warn that it might hurt for the first two or three minutes but then the pain subsides and some people get to the point where they don't feel pain at all. Hmmm….not sure about that, but I tried again. And sat right back up.
I then tried placing one layer of my tshirt between my back and the mat, and I felt...actually fine. I could feel the sharp poking up near my shoulders and neck since the tshirt didn’t cover the entire mat but I got used to it after a few more minutes, just as promised by the lovely Australian yoga instructor in the video tutorial.
I ended up laying on it for about 10 minutes (a bit shy of the recommended 20) and felt a little woozy after, but refreshed. I repeated this for about 10 minutes a few nights for the first week and am determined to build up to daily use.
Not naked though. I am not ready for that. Yet.
HigherDOSE specializes in all things infrared -- from sauna rooms to blankets. Far infrared deeply penetrates the body to promote healing, increase circulation, and reduce inflammation. The Infrared PEMF Mat is the latest addition to the HigherDOSE family and is recommended for everything from chronic pain to workout recovery to general relaxation.
According to HigherDose, Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (or PEMF) sends electromagnetic waves through your body at different frequencies to help promote your body’s own recovery process, mimicking the same kind of electromagnetic waves you’d find in nature. The longer you use it – both over time and during your PEMF session – the more you will feel the benefits.
The makers recommend lying on the mat for even a couple of minutes a day and unlike their sauna blanket (which I have owned for a couple of years), you can lie on the Infrared PEMF Mat for as long as you want. And literally there is nothing to do but turn it on and lay down.
The mat is full of amethyst crystals in mesh fabric tubes -- but they are small and evenly distributed across the mat so feel more comfortable than you would expect. The heating pad aspect was heavenly, especially when my body ached from a tough workout (ha ha ha just kidding) or cramps (more accurate). And whenever I lay down on it (often), I felt calmer and didn't want to leave the spot. And my 10 year old, Zia, would make me scoot over to squeeze on to the mat with me.
It isn’t built for two but I was too relaxed to make her move.
The HealthyLine Rainbow InfraMat Pro is like the souped up version of the HigherDOSE Infrared PEMF Mat — the same basic concept of a heating pad functionality and PEMF therapy — but with the added element of rainbow colored stones lined up and down the mat to align to your chakra points while you lay down.
HealthyLine’s PEMF is based on the Earth’s natural 7.83 Hz frequency which is the frequency that is the most compatible with your body’s natural biorhythms. HealthyLine recommends that anyone who is just starting out with PEMF therapy leave the setting at this frequency for some time before trying higher frequencies. As with other combination mats, the benefits of PEMF therapy help further enhance some of the benefits you get from the heat therapy, including temporary relief of pain and muscle stiffness, and increase in muscle relaxation, and a decrease in inflammation. You can lay on it as long as you like and adjust the temperature settings depending on how long you plan to hang out on it.
But the Rainbow Inframat Pro also promises to “balance and restore your chakras”. The mat pairs healing crystals to each of the seven chakras points which they say leads to “mental and spiritual improvements” ranging from “unshakable trust in our inner guidance, improved levels of clarity and focus, free-flowing expression, the ability to express forgiveness, newfound joy and compassion, a strong sense of connection to the physical world, and so much more.” All of which sounds like a tall order in my humble opinion but couldn’t hurt to try right?
I decided to put this onto my couch one particularly cold January night and lay back while reading. And basically, I haven’t gotten off the couch since. This is the most calming and relaxing thing I have ever been on.
The heating pad and PEMF seem to function similarly to simpler models, but honestly if I could take this thing with me everywhere I went, I would be tempted to (it comes with a nylon carrying bag, but the mat is heavy, so I mostly leave it on the couch). But I would lay on this for endless hours if I could.
And as for my chakras -- are they more aligned? No idea. But I am definitely blissed out.