I have to admit, at first I was skeptical about laying down on a bed of incredibly sharp plastic lotuses to relieve back pain and overall tension. To me, the Pranamat ECO “acupressure massage mat” sounded like a euphenism for “Spanish Inquisition torture device.” It turns out, I wasn’t the only one who was a little apprehensive about trying this product.
But then a little trip down Google Lane reveals a history of “nail beds” that were popularized by ancient Indian yogis. No, they were not magical shamans who could defy physics. Conversely, they had a keen understanding of physics: it’s not about sharpness, but volume. Assuming the nails are numerous enough, the weight is distributed among them so that the pressure exerted by each nail is not enough to puncture the person’s skin.
The yogis who first introduced the idea of the “Shakti Mat” around 2,000 years ago found that the physiological change the body underwent on nail beds aided their meditation practice. By getting through the initial feelings of discomfort, it helped to cultivate resilience and eventually eased the body and mind into a place of stillness.
But what’s the point of doing this in our modern lives, other than looking like a total badass who has trancensended the pesky mortal concept of pain? It turns out there are some medicinal benefits to stimulating the body by nearly stabbing it to death with tiny little knives… Apparently, when you lay down on the bed of nails, it activates nerve centers along the spine while increasing circulation and blood flow to organs in the body. Additionally, if a sharp object presses against your skin, it sends messages to the brain to release endorphins, responsible for relieving pain and increasing a sense of well-being. Oxytocin, another healing hormone, is released and works to relax and calm the nervous system, counteracting stress hormones.Those ancient yogis might have been on to something, after all.
According to the Pranamat ECO website, they “harnesses the wisdom of Eastern tradition and the power of pioneering technology to make home-massage widely available, for truly life-enhancing results.” Thankfully, instead of a bed of rusty nails, this brand utilizes 100% linen, odor-free cotton, natural coconut fiber and HIPS plastic lotuses to achieve this effect – making for a pretty eco-friendly product.
The directions are as such: “Lay your Pranamat ECO on a bed or on the floor. Remove your shirt or other type of clothing from your upper body (or put on a thin shirt if more comfortable). Slowly and carefully lie down on your back – do it gradually, supporting yourself with your arms by the sides of the mat… Mild discomfort at the beginning of a session on your Pranamat ECO is an absolutely normal phenomenon that will disappear over time… It may take several days or weeks before you can start using the mat without any cover on it.”
They recommend you subject yourself, I mean indulge yourself, twice a day during the first 3 weeks (you can try it risk-free for a free 30 day period), and then using it as much as you want from there. Each session is based on personal endurance, I mean preference, but they suggest anywhere from 10-45 minutes. They say it’s even safe to use for hours at a time, but for the sake of this blog’s experiment, I’ll just shoot for 20 minutes and see how I feel…
Wearing a thin cotton shirt (by ManiTees, yoga pants by Electric & Rose) I gingerly laid back on the mat and felt the prickly embrace of hundreds of lotus points threaten to puncture my flesh… but they did not. It was a bit intense at first, but once I realized I would not die for this blog, I began to relax into it bit by bit… allowing the initial discomfort to transition into a pleasant tingly sensation. The longer I laid there, the better it felt. Did I achieve out-of-body nirvana? Not quite. But I could see how using this product regularly could help stiff or sore backs. Whether this catharsis is achieved by distraction or placebo, I’m not sure. But I DID feel more relaxed by the time I peeled myself up… slowly.
The stages of using the Pranamat ECO include: Agony… Shock… Bliss.
Sometimes it’s good to get out of our comfort zones. A little pain can be healthy when applied properly, and if that makes me sound like Christian Grey, I assure you I mean that only in the enlightened yogi sense. Personally, I’m all for holistic remedies in favor or pharmaceuticals when possible. If you experience moderate aches and pains, or just overall tension because of, you know, being human and life, then I would recommend trying the Pranamat ECO mat for yourself. Maybe throw in a little CBD with some Enya and I can 100% guarantee (without any actual medical knowledge whatsoever) that you will feel better.
Another thing to feel good about: Pranamat ECO prides themselves on operating ethically. They never outsource production to overseas sweatshops and hand-make every item in Europe, according to “rigorous standards.” After all, what good is alleviating our backs if poor kids have to break theirs in the process?
PS: No copywriters were harmed during the writing of this blog.