Dosha Mat

Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Acupressure Mats

The Ultimate Guide to Acupressure Mats

Acupuncture or acupressure treatments may not always be possible or convenient. Such treatments typically last an hour and benefits are generally not achievable after only one session. In general, the cost of a session ranges from $75 to more than $150.

Acupressure mats are an inexpensive and convenient alternative to expensive and time consuming acupressure or acupuncture sessions. High quality acupressure mats generally cost less than $100. You can use an acupressure mat anywhere and anytime, whether you are at home, the office, or traveling. Acupressure mats are also very easy to use; you only need to rest your body on the mat and let gravity and the mat's needles stimulate the various acupoints on your body.

What is an Acupressure Mat?

Acupressure mats are foam or fibre mats that have thousands of acupoint needles generally grouped in discs and securely placed on top. The plastic acupoint discs are generally specially designed and positioned to stimulate various points on the body. Acupressure mats come in body-length sizes to ensure that they target many acupoints in the body. Smaller-sized mats and pillows are also available to target specific regions of the body.

Acupressure mats are based on the principles of acupuncture, one of the methods of treatment in traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Acupuncture is based on the concept that the body contains thousands of acupoints. When these acupoints are stimulated it closes or opens the chi (the body’s life force or energy). In particular, stimulation of acupoints allows the flow of chi to be distributed through the regions of the body. When the flow of energy is blocked, it results in the manifestation of diseases or ailments.

Acupuncture is performed by inserting needles into the different acupoints of the body. Acupressure is the non-invasive form of acupuncture and also targets the same acupoints. Acupressure can be practiced by using the fingers to apply pressure and stimulate the various acupoints. Alternatively, spiked or pointed tools can also be used to apply pressure, including diagnostic sticks, hand rollers, foot rollers, and acupressure balls. These devices can be easily pressed on to an acupoint, grasped by the hand or rolled by the foot.

Acupressure mats replicate the sensation of acupressure and acupuncture. The mechanism underlying the acupressure mat can be traced to the bed of nails that Hindu yogis used to help them in meditation.

One of the earliest versions of the modern acupressure mat is the one that was created by Ivan Kuznetsov several decades ago.

Kuznetsov was a school teacher from Russia. One day, he was asked to treat the school building with insecticide. He performed the task without adequate protective gear, which resulted in him becoming poisoned by harmful chemicals. He suffered from chronic pain, impaired peripheral circulation, and intense muscle spasms which rendered him immobile for lengthy periods of time.

The doctors that Kuznetsov approached could not cure his ailments, and even declared he had a hopeless case. Despite the circumstances, Kuznetsov did not give up and looked for alternatives. He tried acupuncture and discovered that his condition improved. However, he found it too expensive and inconvenient to go to an acupuncture session regularly. He tried to perform acupuncture by himself but also found it too difficult to reach specific points on body, especially the back.

These challenges led Kuznetsov to devise a contraption that mimicked acupuncture. He achieved this by inserting office pins into a sheet of rubber tire, upon which he then lied down. With the pins evenly distributed on the sheet, the pins were able to support Kuznetsov’s weight. The pins did not pierce his skin and he was thereby able to experience the effects of an acupuncture treatment anytime he desired.

When Kuznetsov approached his doctors and had himself re-examined, they were surprised to discover that he was healed. They advised Kuznetsov to present his creation to the Ministry of Health in Moscow. However, his invention was rejected by the Ministry because of the lack of scientific research to support the claimed benefits of his device. Kuznetsov went on to give treatment to people who were also deemed hopeless by conventional medicine with the use of his invention and recorded his cases in his journals.

In 1980, Kuznetsov successfully received a patent for his invention. His device was officially called the Kuznetsov Ipplicator. However, Kuznetsov and a group of researchers found that the metal needles could not be used at home. They developed another version of the device, this time creating it from plastic shaped into spikes and carefully arranged in modules.

Health Benefits of Acupressure Mats

People who use acupressure mats generally report feeling more relaxed. Others report feeling relieved from their back and muscle pains. Some also say they experience an improved night’s sleep.  

Other benefits experienced by those who have used acupressure mats include:

  • Soothed aches and pains;

  • Feeling more calm, possibly caused by the release of endorphins and oxytocin, or “feel-good” hormones;

  • Feeling more energized; and

  • Improved metabolism and digestion.

It is also believed that regularly using an acupressure mat can increase blood circulation. As a result, a person may be able to experience improved skin condition, encourage new cell growth, lower their heart rate, and support a stronger immune system and better mood.

Scientific Studies on Acupressure Mats

The study by Tanya Zilberter and Jim Roman is perhaps one of the most credited studies to explore the benefits of acupressure mats. A pilot study was conducted to assess the effects of mechanical stimulation of the skin. The study involved 200 participants who used their acupressure mats for at least two weeks. 95% of those who used acupressure mats reported experiencing positive results. Participants also answered questionnaires which demonstrated that 98% experienced pain relief, 96% felt relaxed, 94% reported improvement in the quality of their sleep, and 81% felt an increase in energy levels.

Another study by Saha et al. involved 91 participants who were advised to use acupressure mats daily for two weeks. The results showed that although there were no significant differences in pain intensity between the two weeks, there was immediate pain relief after use of the acupressure mats. The researchers concluded that acupressure mats can provide short-term pain relief for people suffering from chronic back pain.

Another study by Li et al analyzed how cobblestone-mat walking affected the health of older adults. The study involved 40 participants whose average age was 72. Participants were asked to perform a test spanning eight weeks. An experimental group was asked to perform a 45-minute cobblestone-mat walking activity for three sessions per week. This group reported improved physical and mental scores, psychological well-being, and reduced daytime sleepiness and pain. Acupressure mats may be able to provide the same benefits to the elderly, although research has yet to be conducted to explore this.

How to Use an Acupressure Mat

Using an acupressure mat is very easy. All that needs to be done is to lay it on a flat surface, such as the floor or a bed. You then simply lie down on the mat. To get the best results, it is recommended that you remove your clothing so that there is direct contact between the acupressure needles and your skin. If this feels too painful, thin clothing can be worn or the mat can be covered with a towel or sheet to serve as a buffer between the points and you skin.

A pillow or rolled blanket can be placed under the mat so that the acupressure points can target the neck and shoulders. Some acupressure mats come with a pillow that also have pointed discs. You can simply lay your head on the pillow to target the acupoints in that region.

Acupressure mats also help to release tension in the muscles. Lying sideways targets the iliotibial band (known as the IT band). To experience relief from back pain, bend the knees, or place a pillow under the mat and position it in the middle to give it a curved shape which mirrors the natural shape of the spine.

Another way to use the acupressure mat is to stand on it. This allows for body weight to push down on your feet and therefore make the pressure and contact more effective. Targeting the acupoints on the feet is beneficial because it contains various acupoints connected to the different systems and organs of the body.

You can also try sitting on the mat, which targets the buttocks and lower back. This is especially helpful for people who spend hours glued to their chairs during the work day.  

Regardless of the manner in which you use your acupressure mat, it is generally recommended that you use it for a period between 20 and 30 minutes.

Acupressure mats are also versatile and can be used together with other activities. In fact, it can create complementary health effect when used in yoga. For example, certain poses like savasana can help in reaching a calmer state when using an acupressure mat. Other examples include the apanasana pose, which is achieved when both knees are brought to the chest and hugged while lying flat on the mat. Another example is the ardha apanasana pose, which is achieved when one knee is brought close to the chest while keeping the other leg extended and flat. You can also try the forward fold pose with the palms and feet planted on the mat.

What to Expect When Using an Acupressure Mat

Some people find the initial sensation of using an acupressure mat to be uncomfortable. This effect can be lessened by using the acupressure mat gradually. This can be done by gently laying on the mat section by section, until the body lies completely flat. The mat can also be used for a shorter duration at first.  An initial 10-minute session on the acupressure mat will suffice until you become accustomed to the sensation and feel more comfortable lying on the mat.

Who Can Use Acupressure Mats?

Anyone can use acupressure mats, and they can be especially beneficial for people who are suffering from physical ailments. However, it is recommended that pregnant women as well as people with open cuts and wounds, malignant or benign tumors, or skin diseases refrain from using the mat until their conditions change.

Types of Acupressure Mats

There are many brands of acupressure mats for sale in the market today. It is very important to do your due diligence before deciding which to buy. 

In particular, you should ensure that the acupressure needles are attached to the mat using non-toxic glue. You should also stay away from mats that may contain BPA (bisphenol A). You should also ensure that the mat’s fabric is a breathable type, such as cotton or linen. An ideal material for the foam is organic coconut fiber, eco-foam, or non-toxic rubber foam.

Many manufacturers (including many selling on Amazon) sell acupressure mats at relatively low prices. Please be wary of these manufacturers. In most cases these acupressure mats have been mass produced and are held together using toxic glue. In addition, the foam pads and acupressure points are made of synthetic materials which contain harsh chemicals and have a strong chemical odour. Using these cheaper mats may result in skin infection, allergic reactions and other health ailments, in addition to greater environmental harm. 

Our acupressure mats are unparalleled in quality and are 100% eco-friendly. Each mat is carefully handmade using the highest-quality, hypoallergenic natural linen. Each mat also contains a removable cushion made of 100% natural coconut fibre. Our mats also feature more than 4,500 high-quality acupressure points in the beautiful shape of lotus flowers. These unique acupressure points are made of toxic-free surgical plastic and have been ergonomically engineered to have the greatest relaxation and healing effects.

Acupressure mats can be an excellent way to enjoy relief from aches and pains. However, acupressure mats are not a cure-all remedy for ailments. Always seek professional medical advice to verify that an acupressure mat can be used for your condition.

Read more...

Acupressure and its Health Benefits

Acupressure and its Health Benefits

With all of the increased stressors in today’s world, it is not surprising that our bodies sometimes experience a variety of aches and pains, including tension and soreness in the muscles. While there are a plethora of modern techniques available for treating these kinds of ailments, there are also various traditional and natural treatments available as well.

One such treatment is acupressure. Acupressure is a type of touch therapy that utilizes the same concepts which underlie acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Acupressure stimulates the same points that are targeted acupuncture. The only difference is that acupressure treatment is applied through the fingers or special tools rather than through the insertion of needles, meaning that acupressure is essentially the non-invasive version of acupuncture. Acupressure has been used for centuries to alleviate various symptoms and sickness and is often performed in conjunction with other traditional Chinese medicine procedures.

Unlike acupuncture, which requires visiting a certified and trained acupuncturist, acupressure can generally be self-performed anytime, anywhere. In this post, we discuss the key points you need to know about acupressure as well as its health benefits.

What You Need to Know About Acupressure

Fundamentally, acupressure entails applying pressure to the vital healing points of the body. It is believed that these points can stimulate the body’s natural healing capabilities. Pressure is administered primarily through the fingers, but the palms, elbows, feet, or other acupressure tools and devices can be used as well. The word acupressure is a combination of two words - the word “acus, which in Latin means “needles”, and the word “pressure”.

There are thousands of acupressure points found in different parts of the body. These points are sensitive to pressure and can be in the form of nerve clusters or other sensitive muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and veins. These points have two characteristics and manners of function. A point is referred to as “local” when it is stimulated in the same area where pain and tension are felt. The same point can also “trigger” relief in other areas of the body. When one point is stimulated, it is believed that it can deliver healing to the other parts of the body, and alleviate different symptoms and pain.   

The concept of “meridians” is also an essential element of acupressure. Meridians are described as the body’s passageway that links the acupressure points to each other and the different organs in the body. Meridians can also be likened to how blood vessels transport blood through the various systems of the body. In the principles of Chinese traditional medicine, meridians are where chi, the vital life energy, travels throughout the body. Acupressure aims to unblock the circulation of chi by stimulating specific points, known as “acupoints”. The meridians closest to the skin is what acupressure seeks to stimulate since these are the easiest to trigger through finger pressure.  

History of Acupressure

Acupressure, acupuncture and Chinese traditional medicine are intrinsically linked. Acupressure is believed to have flourished in Asia some 5,000 years ago. The ancient Chinese treatise known as the Huangdi Neijing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine), which emerged around 100 BCE, is said to have first contained an organized system of diagnosis and application of various methods of treatment, among them being acupuncture. It is also during this period that the concept of chi channels (meridians) was developed.

Bronze statues that were discovered dating from the 15th century depicted various acupressure points. These were used for education and examination purposes. Yang Jizhou, a prominent acupuncturist during the Ming Dynasty, compiled the Zhen Jiu Da Cheng (The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion), which describes the origin of acupuncture and other ancient works that are connected to it. This body of knowledge also detailed information related to the human anatomy and the internal organs, and discussed the use of acupuncture in the treatment of diseases.

Different Tools Used in Acupressure

Aside from the fingers, other tools and devices can be used to perform and aid in acupressure:

  • Special magnets shaped into heads of bolts and stars are placed on different acupoints and secured with surgical tape. The magnets can then be easily pressed to trigger the effect.

  • Acupressure mats, hand rollers, foot rollers, thumb pads, and acupressure balls are spiked objects that can be easily used to enjoy a quick acupressure treatment.

  • Acupressure wristbands and bracelets typically have a button or seed stuck to the band. When it is worn, the button is positioned on the P6 (or Nei Kuan) acupoint. Pressing the button stimulates the P6 point, which is believed to help relieve nausea and motion sickness.

There are also other ordinary items that can work as acupressure tools. A tennis ball can be rolled under the foot to experience quick relief by encouraging the feet to assume an arched position. To do this, place the ball under the arch of your foot and move it in circular motions. This movement resembles effleurage, which is a form of a massage using smooth strokes.

What Can Acupressure Do to Your Body?

Acupressure is primarily performed to help alleviate ailments and pains in the body. The health conditions it is used to treat include:

  • Headaches, toothaches, sinus problems;

  • Arthritis;

  • Nausea;

  • Nerve and muscle tension; and

  • Issues with the digestion and the immune system.

Acupressure is even used in beauty treatments to lessen the appearance of wrinkles. It can help increase muscle tone and improve blood circulation in the face and body. The pressure applied during acupressure therapy is believed to help distribute oxygen and give the skin a healthier appearance.

In the next section, we canvass various research studies which have demonstrated that acupressure treatment can provide significant health benefits.

Acupressure Research and Studies

Nausea

One research study by Hyde sought to explore the effect of acupressure on pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. The test involved 16 participants who were divided into two groups. The first group wore acupressure wristbands for five days, and went on for another five days without wearing the bands. The second group did the opposite. At the end of the trial, 12 out of the 16 participants reported experiencing relief from nausea and reduced levels of anxiety, depression and behavioral dysfunction.

Another study of acupressure’s effect on nausea was conducted by Chapman et al.The research involved 17 breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The participants were divided into two groups. The first group was comprised of patients who received acupressure therapy, where the acupoints in the forearm and knee (P6 and ST36) were stimulated through finger acupressure. The other group only received the usual care administered to patients undergoing chemotherapy. The results showed a significant difference between the two groups during the first ten days of the chemotherapy cycle: the women who received the acupressure treatment experienced less nausea compared to the other group.

Anxiety

Acupressure may also be beneficial for people suffering from dyspnoea, a medical condition that involves severe shortness of breath. A study by Tsay et al. explored this link. The study involved 52 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who were using mechanical ventilation support. The participants were separated into two groups - one was the experimental group which received acupressure and therapy for ten days, and the other was the control group who only received a massage treatment and handholding. The results showed that the experimental group had improved statistics compared to the control group. The researchers suggest that acupressure can help decrease sympathetic stimulation (the body’s “fight or flight” response) and alleviate the symptoms of dyspnoea and anxiety.

Another study by Barker et al. explored how acupressure affected the anxiety levels of patients who were transported to the hospital in an ambulance. The research involved 38 patients, some of whom received acupressure treatment. Their anxiety and pain levels, blood pressure, and heart rate were measured before the treatment. The participants who received acupressure therapy experienced lesser pain, anxiety, and had a lower heart rate. In addition to these results, the patients reported higher satisfaction with the care they received during the ambulance transport. The researchers encourage health practitioners to consider performing acupressure to help decrease patients’ anxiety and pain during emergency transport.

Dysmenorrhoea

Other research has investigated the effects of acupressure on dysmenorrhoea, which is painful menstruation involving abdominal cramps. The study involved 69 women divided into two groups, one of which received acupressure therapy targeting the sanyinjiao point (which is a point above the ankles). The other group only rested and did not receive acupressure treatment. Results from the test showed that the participants who received sanyinjiao acupressure during the initial session reported reduced levels of pain and anxiety. In addition, a self-treatment follow-up session showed a significant decrease in menstrual pain.

Back pain

Hsieh et al. conducted a study to determine how acupressure affected chronic back pain. The research involved 129 participants who were experiencing chronic back pain for at least four months. Acupressure therapy was administered to one group, while physical therapy was administered to the other group. The treatments were performed on the participants for one month and they were made to evaluate their experience through certain questionnaires. The results of the questionnaire score after treatment was significantly better with the acupressure group than with the physical therapy group. Results also showed that the acupressure therapy group had a significant reduction of disability than the physical therapy group, and the effects were sustained even after six months as evaluated through a follow-up.

Conclusion

Acupressure has many potential benefits that can improve your health and well-being. However, one should be careful not to completely replace medical prescriptions and methods advised by his or her doctor or medical professional. Always check with a certified health practitioner or seek professional medical advice for any health problems you are experiencing, and disclose any procedures that have been administered to your body.

Read more...

How to Use an Acupressure Mat

How to Use an Acupressure Mat

If you are using an acupressure mat for the first time, it is understandable if you find the concept somewhat intimidating. Lying on spikes may not sound very comfortable, and you may be faced with some initial discomfort when you first use your acupressure mat. However, that initial unease and discomfort quickly fades for most people as the incredible benefits of acupressure therapy set it.

In this article, we discuss how to effectively use an acupressure mat depending on your level of experience.

Using Your Acupressure Mat

Ideally, you should lie down on an acupressure mat with just bare skin; but this is for more advanced users. For beginners, we recommend placing a sheet of cloth (e.g. towel or any clothing) between the mat and your skin. You may wear an actual piece of clothing too, if you prefer. This practice will help lessen the pressure of the sharp points against your skin, and eventually get you accustomed to the sensation.

Acupressure mats are generally placed on a flat surface like beds, couches, or on the floor. If you are using your acupressure mat on the floor, feel free to use additional pieces of cloth in order to provide cushion, so long as you feel comfortable with the sensation. You may also use other personal effects such as pillows if you need some cushioning for your head, neck or legs. Once you lie down, make sure to comfortably position your back (or any part of the body you are targeting) evenly on the spikes.

The length of each acupressure session can also be scaled as well. For beginners, we recommend using it daily for at least 5 minutes; for intermediate users, we recommend using it daily for at least 15 minutes; and for advanced users, we recommend using daily it for at least 30 minutes. Using it multiple times a day for shorter durations is also a great approach.

The sensation produced by using an acupressure mat is known to produce a flood of endorphins. Just like exercise, the stimulation caused by the tiny spikes causes equally tiny reflexes in your skin, which in turn encourages your body to release endorphins. Endorphins are the hormones primarily responsible for making you feel healthy and happy.

As a bonus tip, you may wish to elevate the overall experience of using an acupressure mat by listening to a soothing melody, your favorite audio book, or anything that can help ease you into stillness and relaxation.

Symptoms that Can be Treated with an Acupressure Mat

One of the best things about acupressure mats is that pretty much anyone can use them with ease. If used on a regular basis, acupressure mats are sure to bring about many health benefits. Additionally, they are a great alternative to relieving various issues, as described below.

Back Pain

Acupressure mats are perfect for alleviating back pain. The tiny spikes of the mat will encourage proper blood flow, which in turn helps relax your sore muscles and relieve pain and tension. Simply place your mat on a flat surface and gently lie down until you are comfortably positioned. If your lower back is what ails you, put a towel under the mat; the mat should then gently press against your lower back. Do this for at least 20 minutes and you should notice a significant improvement in your back pain.

Neck Pain

Acupressure mats are also a great tool for relieving chronic neck pain. Place the mat on a flat surface and put a rolled cloth under the mat beneath your head. As you lie down on the mat, gently adjust your body by moving your back down until the back of your neck is firmly supported by the bump created by the rolled cloth. Keep yourself relaxed in this position for at least 20 minutes. You may also re-adjust as needed to target specific areas of your neck.

Anxiety and Stress

Acupressure mats are great for reducing anxiety and stress and helping your mind relax. In order to achieve this, take long, deep breaths while lying down on the mat. It is also helpful to keep your eyes closed, free your mind from thoughts and try to stay in the moment. Listening to a guided meditation can be a great way to ease yourself into the right mental state. It is most beneficial to use your mat for this purpose just before going to bed and this will help ensure that you get a great night’s sleep.

Energy Slump

Acupressure mats can also provide the boost you need whenever you feel low on energy, which is common during the morning or in the afternoon. To achieve this, lie down on your acupressure mat for no more than 20 minutes. Keep in mind that anything more than that will induce relaxation and may defeat the purpose of raising your energy levels.

Feet and Hands

Acupressure mats are also a great reflexology tool. Our feet and hands have many points on them that correspond to various parts of the body. For foot reflexology, place one foot at a time on the mat for three minutes. Feel free to move your foot around, or to adjust your positioning to increase pressure during this process. Once done with both feet, place them together on the mat for an additional minute. For hand reflexology, simply place one hand on the mat for one minute; once done, repeat the process with the other hand. You may also move your hand and increase the pressure as you feel necessary.

Final Thoughts

Acupressure mat treatments are a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle, avoid pain, and relax the body and mind. By using an acupressure mat, you can effectively and efficiently address various issues at any time of the day, whether low energy level, difficulty relaxing, or back pain.

Read more...

Eight Different Ways to Use Your Acupressure Mat

Eight Different Ways to Use Your Acupressure Mat

Acupressure mats permit excellent self-treatment which can be easily performed in the comfort of your own home. Although laying down on an acupressure mat may be the most popular way to use it, did you know that an acupressure mat can be used to target many other areas of the body? In this post, we discuss various different acupressure mat positions, how to best use your mat in those positions, and the positive health effects of each respective position.

Back

Place your mat on a flat surface, preferably on the floor. Lie down on it, and make sure that the entire surface of your back is well-rested on the mat. If you want to feel more pressure against your lower back, simply bend your knees (i.e. tent them) or place a pillow under your knees. Using the acupressure mat in this position for at least 20 minutes will relieve pain between your shoulder blades and even in the small of your back. When done prior to sleeping, this position will also help improve the quality of your sleep.

Stomach

Place your stomach flat on the mat, with your arms crossed under your head or on your side if you are resting on a pillow. You may wear thin clothing if the sensation is too much for you. Staying in this position for at least 20 minutes will relax your body as well as boost your digestion.

Neck & Shoulders

To improve the mat’s contact with your neck and shoulders, roll up a towel and place it under the mat in the area where your neck and shoulders are intended to make contact with the mat. The mat’s contact points need to align with the curve of your neck, and its pressure should be evenly distributed along your neck and shoulders. Relaxing in this position for at least 20 minutes will provide relief against neck and shoulder pain.

Hips & Thighs

Place your mat on a flat surface, preferably the floor. Lie down on your side, making sure that the mat is perfectly positioned under your hip and thigh. Do this for approximately 10 minutes on each side, and adjust your body to achieve the desired pressure. Not only will this position relax your hips, but it will also help reduce the appearance of cellulite if done on a regular basis.

Lower Back & Buttocks

Position your mat under your body in such a way that it covers both your lower back and buttocks. For increased pressure against your lower back, place a rolled towel under your knees, or bend them up (i.e. tent them) with your feet resting flat on the surface. Holding this position for at least 20 minutes will provide relief against symptoms of pain or tightening in the sciatic area.

Buttocks & Thighs

You can get into this position by either sitting on the floor or on a hard chair. If done on a chair, you can increase the pressure of the mat against the back of your thighs by reaching for your toes. If you have used your mat for a while and have grown accustomed to the sensation, you may also consider bringing your mat to your workplace. This position is great for providing relaxation during long hours at work.

Face

Acupressure mat treatments for the face can be done in two ways. The first approach is to rest the side of your face on the mat. The second approach is to gently press the mat against the side of your face, jaw and jaw-bones using your hand. Treat each side for only 1 to 2 minutes. Although direct contact is more beneficial, you may also place a thin cloth between your face and the surface if the sensation is too intense for you. This position has many benefits, including removing tension in the jaw and neck area, reducing lymph stagnation, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and giving your face a more radiant look.

Feet

Place your mat on the floor and stand on it, preferably with bare feet. You may also put a thin cloth on top of the mat, or wear socks if the sensation is too strong for you. After a while, gently lift one foot up while maintaining your stance; this will increase the beneficial effect of the mat on the various pressure points of your foot. Do this for a total of 10 minutes. This position provides a type of healing called reflexology and is perfect for pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

Final Thoughts

By now, you are likely aware of the wonders of acupressure mats and the incredible healing effects they can have on various parts of your body. Using an acupressure mat means far fewer visits to a massage or physical therapist, but more importantly, regularly using an acupressure mat will provide you with a general sense of well-being. If you are a firm believer of holistic medicine, you should make an acupressure mat a staple in your wellness routine. For more information on this subject, read our ultimate guide to acupressure mats.

Read more...

The Ultimate Guide to the Three Doshas

The Ultimate Guide to the Three Doshas

Have you ever wondered why no two people are the same in terms of their disposition, refinement, appetite, fitness level, and so much more? Modern science and genetics can provide some real answers, but what about the peculiarities that make each person different from the rest, and everything relevant in between? Ayurveda, yoga’s close relative, can provide additional insights by reference to the three doshas.

Ayurveda is a 5,000-year old system of holistic healing which refers to and studies the interconnection of the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of life. According to the ancient Sanskrit texts of the Vedas, an individual’s life force exhibits itself in three different energetic forces or doshas, which are known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It is said that all of us possess these three life energies in varying degrees.

Our doshas are determined at the time that we were conceived by our mothers, which purposely becomes our true individual nature. By default, these doshas are not equal – meaning most individuals can have a larger quantity of one or two doshas, which makes them truly distinct and different from others. Additionally, these doshas do not remain constant all throughout our lives, and can fluctuate as we grow older.

Further, our doshas are interdependent with the environment in which we spend our time in, the food we regularly eat, the seasons of the year, the climate, the people we interact with, our daily habits, and many other factors. As our doshas change and move in and out of balance, our health, energy levels, general mood, and state of mind also become affected.

In this blog post, we will discuss the functions of these three doshas, how to identify them, and what can be done if they become unbalanced.

The Three Doshas and Their Physiological Functions

As mentioned earlier, the doshas are energetic forces present throughout the human body and mind. Each dosha represents two natural elements and its related properties. Vata represents space and air, which are elements that govern movement and communication; Pitta represents fire and water, which are elements that govern digestion and transformation; and Kapha represents earth and water, both of which are elements of cohesiveness, structure and lubrication.

Additionally, doshas have three states, namely balanced, increased, and decreased. Balanced means that all three doshas are present in equal proportions, and can also be denoted as a state of equilibrium. Increased on the other hand means that a dosha exists in greater than normal proportions, which can be described as being in an aggravated or excess state. Lastly, decreased means that a dosha exists in less than normal proportions, which can indicate a reduced or depleted state.

In this context, an individual with Vata as his/her principal dosha generally has a slender figure, is flexible, and is a creative thinker. If they are in a balanced state, Vata-predominant individuals love to be active both mentally and physically, love coming up with original ideas, and enjoy travelling and meeting new people. On the other hand, manifestations of an imbalanced Vata-predominant individual are anxiety, a general sense of fear, loneliness, weariness, dry skin and constipation. The colon, thighs, bones, joints, ears, skin, brain, and nerve tissues contain the most concentration of Vata energy in the body.

Pitta-predominant individuals are generally intense and short-tempered, and usually have a medium physical build, high endurance and strong musculature. If they are in a balanced state, Pitta-predominant individuals have a joyful presence, they’re sharp thinking, strong-willed and are very competitive. On the other hand, an imbalanced Pitta will likely show unruliness and fieriness towards others. It is also common for an imbalanced Pitta to suffer from inflammation, infection, ulcers, heartburn, fever, and loose stools. The small intestine, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, blood, eyes, and sweat contain the most concentration of Pitta energy in the body.

Kapha-predominant individuals are generally cohesive, understanding, loyal, and easily achieve strong frames and athletic builds just by having a regular exercise regimen. If in a balanced state, they are methodical, structured, and like sticking to a regular routine. On the other hand, an imbalanced Kapha will likely show lethargy, lack of motivation, and stubbornness. Additionally, they may also experience various physical changes like weight gain, sinus congestion, as well as mucosal infections. The chest, throat, lungs, head, lymph, fatty tissue, connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons contain the most concentration of Kapha energy in the body.

Always keep in mind that a great number of imbalances arise from having an increased or aggravated state of one’s predominant dosha. These imbalances are most often caused by having a poor diet and carrying too many negativities and stresses in life.  The key here is balance – for instance, Pittas are easily susceptible to heartburn after eating spicy foods. By eating cool foods, they will be able to create balance and support their doshic make-up.

By keeping an eye on your dosha and its imbalances, you may be able to detect a disease even before it manifests. Luckily, Ayurveda has tailored approaches in correcting these imbalances. In order for you to take the right approach, you must know how to identify your dosha constitution first, which will be discussed in the next section of this post.

Getting to Know Your Dosha Constitution

In general, most individuals often have a primary dosha, followed by a secondary dosha. It is also possible, although rare, for an individual to equally possess the three doshas. Below is a comprehensive questionnaire to help you identify your dosha constitution. However, keep in mind that self-assessment may not fully provide all of the answers you need. Thus, consulting with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner may also be helpful.

We recommend answering this questionnaire twice – the first set of answers should reflect your life’s trend in general, while the second set of answers should reflect how you feel today. The first result will reflect your underlying birth constitution, while the second result will reflect your imbalance.

0-1 Doesn’t apply

2-3 Sometimes applies

4-5 Applies most of the time

Vata - Physical Characteristics

1. I am slender and don’t gain weight easily.

0 1 2 3 4 5

2. I am taller or shorter than average.

0 1 2 3 4 5

3. “Thin” describes many of my bodily features (like hair, fingers, and lips).

0 1 2 3 4 5

4. My energy fluctuates and often comes in bursts.

0 1 2 3 4 5

5. My appetite is variable (i.e., high one day and low the next).

0 1 2 3 4 5

6. I have a tendency to become bloated, gassy, or constipated.

0 1 2 3 4 5

7. My skin frequently becomes dry.

0 1 2 3 4 5

8. I tend to have cold hands and feet.

0 1 2 3 4 5

9. I am a light sleeper and often have difficulty falling asleep.

0 1 2 3 4 5

10. I prefer warm, moist weather to cold or dry weather.

0 1 2 3 4 5

 

 

 



















             

Vata - Psychological Characteristics 

1. I am creative and imaginative.

0 1 2 3 4 5

2. I enjoy artistic forms of expression.

0 1 2 3 4 5

3. My mind is active and often restless.

0 1 2 3 4 5

4. I learn quickly but also forget quickly.

0 1 2 3 4 5

5. I become “spaced out” quite easily.

0 1 2 3 4 5

6. I have a tendency to feel anxious, nervous, and insecure.

0 1 2 3 4 5

7. I speak quickly and use hand gestures.

0 1 2 3 4 5

8. I am always on the go.

0 1 2 3 4 5

9. My lifestyle and daily routine are irregular.

0 1 2 3 4 5

10. My dreams are active and colorful.

0 1 2 3 4 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Pitta - Physical Characteristics

1. I have a medium build and gain or lose weight easily.

0 1 2 3 4 5

2. My height is average.

0 1 2 3 4 5

3. My physical features are sharp or pointed (such as my nose, chin, and teeth).

0 1 2 3 4 5

4. My energy and activity levels are high.

0 1 2 3 4 5

5. My appetite is strong; I can eat large quantities of food. 

0 1 2 3 4 5

6. My bowel movements are regular; I occasionally have diarrhea.

0 1 2 3 4 5

7. I perspire quite easily.

0 1 2 3 4 5

8. My skin is oily and has a reddish tone.

0 1 2 3 4 5

9. My eyes are penetrating and light in color.

0 1 2 3 4 5

10. I prefer cooler weather and become irritable in hot weather.

0 1 2 3 4 5



 
    

Pitta - Psychological Characteristics     

1. I am goal oriented and achieve anything to which I put my mind.

0 1 2 3 4 5

2. I have a good sense of humor.

0 1 2 3 4 5

3. I have a strong intellect and enjoy learning new things.

0 1 2 3 4 5

4. I have a natural ability to lead others.

0 1 2 3 4 5

5. I am a perfectionist.

0 1 2 3 4 5

6. I tend to become irritable, impatient, and angry.

0 1 2 3 4 5

7. I am critical of myself and others.

0 1 2 3 4 5

8. Many people think I’m stubborn.

0 1 2 3 4 5

9. I become irritable if I skip a meal.

0 1 2 3 4 5

10. I enjoy competition.

0 1 2 3 4 5



             

Kapha - Physical Characteristics

1. I gain weight easily and lose weight with great difficulty.

0 1 2 3 4 5

2. I am short and stocky or tall and sturdy.

0 1 2 3 4 5

3. “Thick” describes many of my bodily features (such as my hair, neck, fingers, and lips).

0 1 2 3 4 5

4. I have abundant strength and stamina.

0 1 2 3 4 5

5. My digestion is weak and I often feel heavy after eating.

0 1 2 3 4 5

6. My bowel movements are highly regular.

0 1 2 3 4 5

7. My skin is smooth and oily and tends to be pale.

0 1 2 3 4 5

8. I sleep deeply and soundly.

0 1 2 3 4 5

9. I catch colds quite frequently.

0 1 2 3 4 5

10. I prefer hot weather over cold or damp weather.

0 1 2 3 4 5


        
      

Kapha - Psychological Characteristics

1. I have a big heart and prefer to focus on the good in the world.

0 1 2 3 4 5

2. I am calm in nature and not easily angered.  

0 1 2 3 4 5

3. I prefer a slow, relaxed lifestyle.

0 1 2 3 4 5

4. I don’t learn as quickly as others, but my long-term memory is excellent.

0 1 2 3 4 5

5. I become sentimental quite easily; I often think about the past.

0 1 2 3 4 5

6. I am methodical in my actions

0 1 2 3 4 5        

7. I am highly protective of myself and family. 

0 1 2 3 4 5

8. I let negative emotions build up rather than addressing them.

0 1 2 3 4 5

9. I usually let others take the lead.

0 1 2 3 4 5

10. I am a natural listener and frequently help others with their problems.

0 1 2 3 4 5


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

Balancing Your Dosha

Now that you have a better understanding of your doshic constitution, it is time to learn how to maintain or bring it back into sync in order to stay healthy and happy. In the next section of this blog post, we will further discuss the causes of dosha imbalances, and how to balance them through diet and lifestyle.

Ayurveda states that our body has its own inner intelligence, and that we desire foods that are good for us when we are in a balanced state. However, if our mental, physical, and spiritual aspects are not in sync, this intelligence may not manifest itself. When this happens, we engage in destructive habits both in our diet and lifestyle choices. Unlike modern, one-size-fits-all nutritional practices, Ayurveda states that there is no single eating pattern that can be healthy for all individuals.

As a general guideline, your predominant dosha may increase or decrease in the nature of the concept of like attracts like. In this regard, your predominant dosha will always have the tendency to increase or be aggravated unless you choose something that can oppose or balance it. The following sets out the major signs and causes of doshic imbalance (as well as ways to resolve those imbalances):

Major Signs of Vata Imbalance

  1. Light and interrupted sleep.
  2. Muscle spasms.
  3. Dry skin.
  4. Constipation and bloating.
  5. Loss of body weight.

Major Causes of Vata Imbalance

  1. High consumption of Vata-aggravating foods such as pungent, bitter and astringent foods. Examples of pungent foods are chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and many spices; bitter foods are the likes of kale, dandelion greens, collard greens, bitter melon, artichokes, burdock root, eggplant, and dark chocolate; astringent foods include adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans and soybeans.
  2. Irregular schedules of daily activities.
  3. Not eating enough or eating too fast.
  4. Suppressing bodily urges like sneezing, passing gas and excretion of waste  such as stool and urine.
  5. Staying up excessively late.

Ways to Counter Vata Imbalance

  1. Consume foods that are naturally sweet, sour and salty.
  2. Follow a daily regular routine.
  3. Engage in gentle and calm forms of exercise such as yoga.
  4. Eat in a peaceful environment; thoroughly chew your food and take a deep breath after your last bite.
  5. Enjoy relaxing places or simply listen to soothing music.

Major Signs of Pitta Imbalance

  1. Appearance of skin inflammations such as cold sores, acnes and rashes, as well as the inflammation of other parts of the body, especially the joints.
  2. Various digestive issues such as heartburn, gastric or peptic ulcers, acid reflux and diarrhea.
  3. Nausea or discomfort upon missing meals.
  4. Uncomfortable feeling of heat in the body.
  5. Negative emotions such as frustration, anger, and irritability, as well as judgment, impatience, criticism and intolerance.

Major Causes of Pitta Imbalance

  1. High consumption of Pitta-aggravating foods such as pungent, sour and salty foods. Pungent foods are the likes of chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and many spices; examples of sour foods are grapefruit, lemon, pickles, dough breads, yogurt, juices and most fermented foods; salty foods are the likes of celery, seaweeds, cottage cheese, tuna and most spices and flavorings like table salt, soy sauce and tamari.
  2. Eating while emotionally unwell.
  3. Overconsumption of coffee, black tea and alcohol.
  4. Overworking.
  5. Being overtly aggressive and competitive.

Ways to Counter Pitta Imbalance

  1. Consume foods that are naturally sweet, bitter and astringent.
  2. Consume your meal in a peaceful environment. Take a deep breath after swallowing your last bite and going on to your next activity.
  3. Consume cooling foods and beverages, and aim to keep yourself cool in both mind and body.
  4. Follow a regular routine for eating, working and sleeping. Always make time for leisure and relaxation as well.
  5. Engage in moderate forms of exercise like yoga, swimming or biking and avoiding exercising during the hottest time of the day.

Major Signs of Kapha Imbalance

  1. Sudden weight gain which is often a result of slow digestion of food, as well as swelling or retention of water in the body.
  2. Increased frequency of infections such as colds, cough and nasal congestion, as well as the presence of excess mucous.
  3. Increased triglycerides, cholesterol and sugar levels in the body.
  4. Feelings of lethargy, slowness, dullness and heaviness, as well as difficulty rising up in the morning.
  5. Becoming easily attached, possessive, complacent and stubborn.

Major Causes of Kapha Imbalance

  1. High consumption of Kapha-aggravating foods such as sweet, salty and oily or fatty foods. Sweet foods include bananas, mangos, sweet potatoes, rice, coconut, almonds, as well as spices like vanilla and tarragon; salty foods are the likes of celery, seaweeds, cottage cheese, tuna and most spices and flavorings like table salt, soy sauce and tamari; oily or fatty foods include fatty cuts of meat, dairy products, and tropical oils.
  2. Eating heavy meals or overeating.
  3. Drinking too much cold and carbonated drinks.
  4. Having little to no physical activity or exercise.
  5. Excessive sleep.

Ways to Counter Kapha Imbalance

  1. Consume foods that are naturally pungent, bitter and astringent.
  2. Consume light, dry and warm foods. Use only a small amount of oils. Avoid cold and carbonated drinks.
  3. Follow an energetic daily routine and avoid stagnation as much as possible. Engage in vigorous exercises such as jogging, hiking, biking or challenging activities like martial arts at least five times a week.
  4. Keep warm and dry at all times.
  5. Listen to energizing music, and always choose lively experiences and company.

Conclusion

Ayurvedic practices and principles are ageless. By knowing your dosha, and by being aware of your body’s tendencies, you can make wiser decisions in respect of your diet and lifestyle. It is never too late to start – follow these simple principles and always be in harmony with your mind, body and spirit to remain happy and healthy. Also consider acupressure as another treatment to help keep your doshas in balance.

Read more...