Photo courtesy Spoonk Space.
Two years ago, funny-looking mats started appearing in the windows of all the health food stores in Europe. The mats were in mellow new-age colors - sunburst orange, Mediterranean turquoise - and they were covered with tiny plastic spikes.
Not imagining any good use for a plastic mat covered with sharp spikes, I ignored the advertising. But then, green-minded friends started talking about these mats, and what a wonderful stress releaser they were.
Still, I resisted.
Photo courtesy Spoonk Space.
Until one day, feeling tight and sore in every muscle of my body from an over-abundance of challenging yoga and an under-abundance of restful sleep, I spied the bed-of-nails mat on my friend Kaarina's bed. She had gotten it for her husband, who swore by it. Kaarina gently led me over to the spike mat. Lie down slowly, she cautioned. With a bare back, I asked. She smiled. Naked from the waist up, I rolled onto the plastic spikes. Then she covered me with a blanket, dimmed the room's lights, and left me alone.
No, the spikes weren't pleasurable, in the same way a trip to the acupuncturist cannot be described as pleasurable. But after a 20-minute lie down, during which I struggled with conflicting feelings - wanting to leap up and off the spikes and enjoying the slight stinging and warmth as the blood circulated - I had to admit my back felt at once relaxed and energized.
And that's about how Swede Natasha Frykman must have felt after her first session on an acupressure mat, as the mat-of-plastic-spikes is known. She decided that a greener version of the mat must be possible, as the generally Chinese-made mats that first became popular had a lot of hidden negatives.
"The mat had the spikes glued with glue containing high formaldehyde levels. The fabric was thin non-organic cotton. The foam for this mat came from a manufacturer in Sweden and contained formaldehyde and formamide. Later chinese replicas had heavy off-gassing chemicals, including the long banned formaldehyde, and fire retardant chemicals (PBDE & CFS)" - Natasha Fyrkman, Spoonk
Fyrkman and her husband devised the Spoonk Eco-mat with a cover made from hemp or a hemp-cotton blend, both fabrics certified by the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) organization. Mat covers use no AZO dyes that may cause skin hypersensitivity and allergies. Best of all, the mat contains "eco-foam" from renewable plant-based polyols with no fire retardant chemicals or off-gassing.
At $69, the Spoonk is not as cheap as its Chinese-made cousins. But if homemade accupressure is a stress-reliever, it may be worth the price.
More about green stress relief:
15 Green, Healthful Reasons Why You Should Be Having Sex
Forget Hot Tubs and Saunas, the Most Relaxing Room is Green and Blue
Natura's Aloe Vera Pillow Gives "Beauty Sleep" a New Meaning