Shakti Mat History
Om Mokshananda, the creator of the Shakti Mat, is quoted as saying:
“I had tried acupuncture and acupressure in the past and realised that this was the principle the old Bed of Nails was based on. Yogis had used the Bed of Nails for thousands of years with excellent results, both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. These Indian seers had created a bed to free themselves from suffering (tension) and to reach deep inner peace. In many cultures across the globe treatments with nails or the bed of nails have been performed, from acupuncture in China to the Sámi custom of lying on juniper branches. No-one knows with certainty how far back the bed of nails has been used to heal and increase consciousness in humans, but I estimate at least a couple of thousand years,”
During the 1980’s the bed of nails re-emerged in Russia, thanks to an amateur inventor Ivan Kutsnekov. I love his story of resourcefulness and creativity:
Ivan Kuznetsov worked in a kindergarten as a music teacher during the 1970s. He was the only male teacher amongst an entire staff of female teachers. The kindergarten had a problem, it was overrun with insects of some sort, and because Ivan was the only male, he was assigned the job of dealing with them. Armed with the necessary pesticide and equipment he set to work. Although he was kitted-out with overalls and a mask, nobody told him he had to wear gloves. Ivan’s hands were covered in toxic chemical, and as a result, he was severely poisoned! He was in constant pain, and severe muscle spasms rendered Ivan unable to move his arms and legs for weeks at a time. Private medicine was out of the question for Ivan due to the high cost, but acupuncture was just starting to make itself known in Russia, and a few clinics offered the service. Ivan could not afford continuous treatment, but found that the sessions he could afford, gave him much relief, so the next best thing was to learn how to do it, and treat himself. However, Ivan’s success was only partial due the fact that many of the points he needed were in areas of his back that he couldn’t reach. Being a bit of an amateur inventor, Ivan decided the job was within his reach. He obtained a thin piece of rubber that was used in tyre making, and pushed through about 1,000 drawing pins at quarter inch intervals.It worked! Because there were so many pins sharing his body weight, none pierced the skin. It Worked!
Ivan must have been an amazing man! Anyway that is the story of the first iteration of the mat in Russia. There have been a few others too. All will do the same job. A major difference with the company that makes the Shakti mat is the owners have a proven social/political conscience. The company is in India and it provides good working conditions for women; something that is almost unheard of. They provide health care to the women, sick pay and and assist/support the local village. The mat is made to strict Vedic traditions.
Extended research about the effects of the bed of nails was performed at Russian hospitals, with amazing results. The researchers discovered that the bed of nails promoted a decrease in inflammation, strengthened the immune system, showed promotion of tissue growth, increased metabolic rate and decrease in stress levels. The Russian physicians were amazed that a simple tool could have such a profound effect on the mind/body. Psychological changes occurred as well. Levels of aggression decreased and empathy increased. Depression disappeared and a general sense of well-being and happiness developed. Have a look at this extract from the book by Russian PhD Tatiana Erochenko On Pins and Needles for more information on the work in Russia.
“I couldn’t understand how all this wonderful knowledge had been forgotten. I wanted to bring it back.” says Om.
He started to design the Shakti Mat, based on ancient yogic and Vedic principles. The original bed of nails was constructed of wood and metal nails. Today the mat has been recreated in a versatile, more aesthetically pleasing, and user friendly design. The metal nails have been replaced with plastic and instead of wood there is a comfortable styrofoam padded cotton material. Each plastic button has 27 points. Each mat has 230 buttons. This gives you over 6000 points of contact with your skin, which most likely surpasses the old traditional models.