"Love hurts good on a bed of nails." --Alice Cooper, Bed of Nails lyrics
There are a lot of yoga mats out on the market. There are absorbent towel-like mats, round mats, eco-friendly mats, recyclable mats, skidless mats, ribbed mats (for your pleasure), and mats adorned with inspirational messages and/or decorative image (the yoga mat as art phenomenon). Not to sound like a jaded yogi, but I thought I had seen it all. Until I spied the Yantra Mat , that is.
The Yantra Mat is a delightfully cushy mat covered in "spiked flowers." Gee, that's sort of an oxymoron, no -- I mean a word like spikes conjures images of bed of nails and it seems odd that it would be associated with a word like flower, which conjures images of colorful, delicate happiness. Why would one lie on a mat covered in spikes? Why, stress relief, endorphins, and muscle tension release of course.
I know, I know -- I'm sounding a bit sarcastic. The truth is, I'd been dying to get my hands on one of these babies ever since seeing a magazine ad some months back. I was intrigued by the idea. I'm not into pain, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I've always been intrigued by the idea of the Indian mystic lying on a bed of nails for hours. The Yantra Mat seemed like a less intimidating way to have the same experience.
If you're feeling a little skeptical (and a bit nervous) about resting your body on a mat of spikes (even if these lovely little spikes are matched with an innocuous word like flower), think about acupuncture. I've known many who detest needles but go to acupuncture sessions on a regular basis. And doesn't a spike seem a little friendlier than a needle?
I got the medium Yantra Mat (in purple, which the instruction booklet says symbolizes meditation, spirituality, intuition, and clarity. The green stands for harmony, balance, renewal, and healing.) and was surprised by the lovely (and sturdy) mat bag (the mat bag only comes with the medium sized mat, not the larger sizes) in which the mat came. The mat and bag made a compact little package -- perfect for convenient transport.
I eagerly unzipped the bag and -- OUCH -- one of those spiked flowers (yep, definitely too innocuous a word for something so darned sharp) nicked my finger (no, blood was not drawn -- they aren't that sharp). Hmmmmm...if that hurt, what would actually lying on the mat feel like? I wondered to myself. Still, I bravely carried on. I read the detailed instruction book included with the mat -- reading instructions isn't something I normally do but I didn't want to mess with sharp objects without being prepared.
The literature suggests easing your way into bare skin full-on contact with the mat. I did exactly that. As I lay on the mat wearing a thin shirt, I wondered why I even fretted over the spikes -- I didn't feel pain at all. Perhaps ego was egging me on to stop being so conservative and go full-out because that's exactly what I did the second time around (nope, no gradual wading into the cold water for me). I whipped off my shirt and plunked down on the mat.
Whoa -- it reminded me John Mellencamp's song, Hurts So Good . There was burning, stinging, and a not unpleasant feeling that accompanied my brave naked test. A few minutes later I felt seriously relaxed. About 5-10 minutes after that I was asleep. I woke up after 25 minutes, which far exceeded the first time lying duration suggestion in the literature. My first thought -- "that's gonna leave a mark." Yes, my back was red, but it quickly faded.
Now I find myself sneaking off at various times during the day to lie on my Yantra Mat. Yep, I'm completely hooked. It's like a full body acupuncture/acupressure treatment and it feels incredible. I can feel the tension drain from my body and I lie on those lovely little spiked flowers (okay, so maybe the name for those sharpies IS appropriate). I've tried lying on my back and my front, but I have yet to explore resting the side of my face on the mat (which, the literature claims, is a remedy for jaw and neck tension). If the thought of going bare on the mat feels intimidating at first, you can rest the mat on your office chair and try it through the barrier of your clothing.
The Yantra Mat didn't disappoint. In fact, it exceeded my expectations. Yes, it takes a little getting used to but my body loves the full body acupressure the mat provides. I love pulling it out after my yoga practice and using it for Savasana. Of course I find myself taking Yantra Mat breaks throughout the day. I don't have trouble sleeping but my initial experience with the mat lulling me to sleep convinced me that this mat would be perfect for anyone who has trouble falling asleep.