Spotlight On: The Dosha Mat & Acupressure

Spotlight On: The Dosha Acupressure Mat

You’ve probably seen pictures of these spiky little mats floating around social media and wondered what in the world they are and why on earth anyone would want to lay on a bed of almost-needles. Those were my first two thoughts when Dosha Mat reached out to me… but I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve used this mat on and off for the past year, and put it to heavy use earlier this year when dealing with some serious anxiety. I was certainly skeptical at first, but I can see its benefits now.

What is The Dosha Mat?

The Dosha Mat is an acupressure mat designed to help increase bloodflow throughout the body in order to ease pain and aid in relaxation. It’s similar to massage and acupuncture, minus the needles and need for a professional. This mat, along with many others like it on the market, have tiny little buds of hard plastic spikes (as you can see below) that press on the skin when you lay, sit, or stand on the mat. These buds are designed to alleviate tense muscles, help with back/neck/shoulder pain, and with continued use, reduce stress and promote sleep.

Dosha Mat

Unlike those other mats on the market, however, Dosha Mats are made from 100% eco-friendly materials. They have a natural linen cover that’s hypoallergenic with a removable pad made from coconut fibers. What’s more, the plastic buds are surgical-grade, so you don’t have to worry about introducing harmful chemicals into your skin or having some type of allergic reaction. I’ve found that I really like the removable cover, too, in case you need to clean it (by hand — you can’t put this one in the washing machine). All in all, this is a really high quality product.

First Impressions

I’ve been using the mat on and off for over a year now. When I received the mat, I was immediately skeptical — what IS this thing? I took off my socks, stepped on it, and just about screamed in pain. Those little lotus flowers are SHARP! So I put my socks back on and tried again. A little better, but not much. Now, I’ll be honest here, after this initial introduction, I rolled the mat up and stored it under my bed for quite some time. That is until earlier this year when I was having severe anxiety attacks just about every day.

Dosha Mat & Relaxation

It was my last semester in graduate school and my culminating project (Master’s thesis essentially) was getting the run-around from my professors and I couldn’t fathom continuing on. I’m not an anxious person by nature, but this semester had me worked up beyond belief. After one particularly bad day, I decided I needed to get this anxiety under control by any means necessary or it was going to eat me alive and I probably wouldn’t graduate. I’d been hearing a lot about essential oil diffusion and meditation, so why not give that a try… and break out my Dosha Mat from hiding, too. And that’s what I did — every night for about 3 months straight. I laid on the mat next to my bed, put lavender oil in my diffuser, and listened to calming music to tune out my thoughts.

Do I think the mat helped? Yes, yes I do. It sounds strange, but laying on tiny spikes was actually relaxing, but not sleep-inducing. The prickly sensation was enough to keep me awake so I could actually enjoy the meditation, but it was also nice to have that warm, blood circulation feeling before bed.

Dosha Mat

How I’m Using It Now & Things to Consider

I don’t use the mat quite as often now, since my anxiety has diminished substantially after graduating. I try to use it every Sunday night though to help calm nerves before the work week and to really get a good relaxation routine going. After using it this year, here are a few final thoughts and things to consider:

  • Wear clothes and socks when trying it for the first (few) time(s). Not going to lie: this mat HURTS if you stand or lay on it with bare skin. Frankly, I’m not sure how anyone does that even after months of use. My recommendation is to wear thicker socks and clothing to start out while you get used to the sensation. After a while, try it out with thinner clothing and if you want, bare skin.

  • Lay down on it slowly. If you just plop yourself down on this mat, you are going to feel it (in a bad way)! Dare I say the little flowers might actually stab you if you collapse onto it. I found sitting down on it for a few seconds works best to get my body used to the pricks, and then slowly roll down onto your back from there.

  • Don’t be surprised if your skin gets temporarily red and indented. I can’t say I was surprised at the fact that my skin got red — I do have quite sensitive skin, after all. But looking at my back after laying on the mat for 5-10 minutes was a bit of a shock. Red and indented. I’ll take that as a good sign though that the mat actually does increase bloodflow and improves circulation.

  • It’s expensive, but you get what you pay for. The mat itself runs $99 full price, but they are on sale for $79 right now. I’ve done some research and mats like this on Amazon range from $20-$230. Not sure on the uber expensive ones, but I can almost guarantee the cheap ones are not made from a high quality plastic/cloth. The Dosha Mat certainly is, and you can tell right when you open the package.

Dosha Mat

Readers: chat with me! Have you ever used an acupressure mat before? Have you even heard of/seen one? If so, what was your experience like? If not, is it something you’d like to try? How do you deal with anxiety when you’re in a panicked state?

Disclosure: I was gifted this acupressure mat from Dosha Mat in exchange for my review and honest opinion on here on the blog. As always, I only post about products I actually use and enjoy myself, and all opinions, photos, and copy are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

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30-Minute Total Body Workout w/ Walking Poles (+ GIVEAWAY!)

30-Minute Total Body Workout w/ BungyPump Walking Poles

I'm super excited to bring you today's workout!  When BungyPump reached out to me to review their suspension walking poles, my immediate reaction was yes absolutely because they're so different than any piece of exercise equipment I've ever used.  Of course, they're supposed to be used to add more resistance (and therefore more muscle activation and calorie burn) during walking activities, but I found myself immediately coming up with ways to incorporate them into a workout.  So, below is a total body circuit routine with a few bouts of cardio mixed in.  AND you guys have a chance to win a pair of BungyPump Walking Poles for yourself!

First, here's a bit more about them. BungyPump walking poles are Swedish-made with a built-in suspension system that will add 4, 6, or 10 kilos of resistance (9, 13, and 22 pounds respectively) to your walking routine.  They have an ergonomically shaped handle with a hand strap for security, and the height of the poles is adjustable to suit your needs.  You can also adjust whether or not the poles are locked, meaning they can be used sans resistance if you prefer.

BungyPump Walking Poles

The workout I created with these poles is pretty versatile, so if you find yourself out on a walk and want to add some more activity, you absolutely can.  Take the exercises individually as they are, or do the full workout in its entirety for a great calorie burn and total body sweat sesh.  Keep reading for the details of the workout and make sure to enter the raffle to win a pair!

30-Minute Total Body Workout w/ Walking Poles

30-Minute Total Body Workout w/ BungyPump Walking Poles

What You'll Need: a pair of BungyPump Walking poles (WIN A PAIR below!) and an exercise mat.
What You'll Do: go through each round 3 times, doing each exercise for 1 minute, focusing on one major muscle group per round.

Round 1: Legs (x 3)

Cardio: Jump Squats - start standing with the poles vertical in each hand, no resistance put on the poles yet.  Squat down as low as you can, and then explode up into a vertical jump, pressing the poles down as you propel yourself up into the air.  Land back down softly, letting the poles release back to starting position.  Repeat the jump squats quickly for 1 minute.

Curtsey Lunge Pulses + Hold (each side) - start in the same standing position you were in for the jump squats, holding a pole in each hand.  Step back into a curtsey lunge on your right side (by taking your left foot and stepping behind and to the right).  Maintaining the lunge position with the poles pressed down, pulse the lunge with little movements up and down for 30 seconds, letting the poles move up and down with you.  After those 30 seconds are up, stay down in a low lunge for the next 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Squat Hold (30s back/30s front) - start in a low squat position with one of the poles placed behind your knees.  Squat down just low enough to hold the pole in place (but be careful to not go so low that you're resting on your heels).  Hold that position with your hands outstretched for 30 seconds.  Then, maintaining the squat position, grab the pole and hold it out in front of you for the next 30 seconds.

- Repeat round 1 two more times - 

Round 2: Arms (x 3)

Cardio: Plank Jack to Frog Hop - lay the poles down parallel to each other on the floor and start in a plank position with your hands at the top of the poles and feet on in the inside (see image). From here, jump your feet to the outside of the poles (plank jack), then jump them up to your hands (frog hop), keeping your hands planted the whole time.  Reverse the move to jump your feet back to the outside of the poles, and then back in. Continue the pattern quickly for 1 minute, keeping your abs engaged and shoulders in line over your wrists.

Walking Push Ups - keep the poles in the same parallel position as the cardio move above.  Start in a push up position on the left-most side of the poles.  Do 1 push up.  Now step your right hand and right foot to the right, over the first pole to the inside "lane" (left side follows so you're now in a push up position on the inside of the poles).  Do another push up.  Then continue to walk yourself over to the right-most side of the poles and do another push up here.  Reverse the move to walk back over to the left, stopping to do 1 push up in each "lane".  Continue the pattern for 1 minute.

Chest Squeeze + Pulse + Hold (10/10/10 x 2) - start standing with one pole held parallel to the floor, palms facing up toward the ceiling, hands at the ends of the pole.  Using the resistance of the pole, slowly press inward keeping your arms straight.  Once pressed in as far as you can, slowly release the pole back to starting position.  Do 10 slow presses, then hold the pole in and do 10 slow pulses (tiny presses).  Once 10 pulses are done, press the pole in as far as you can again and hold that position for 10 seconds.  Do this twice through.

- Repeat round 2 two more times -

Round 3: Abs (x 3)

Cardio: Lateral Bounding Hops - lay the poles down end to end to form a line on the floor. Starting at one end of the line on one side, swing your arms down by your sides, bend your knees and jump over to the other side, trying to cover as much distance as you can.  Land softly and immediately load the next jump, then hop over to the other side of the line.  Continue the bounding hops down and back for 1 minute.

V-ups w/ Chest Squeeze - start laying down on your back, holding one pole in your hands overhead, pole relaxed with an overhand grip.  From here, do a V-up by engaging your abs to bring your legs and upper body off the floor while simultaneously bringing the pole up overhead to reach out in front of you, squeezing your hands together as you raise.  Reverse the move, lowering your body back down to the floor and releasing tension on the pole as you lower.  Keep going for 1 minute.

Raised Leg Wall Sit - alright, fair warning: these ones are HARD.  I don't expect you to hold this position for the full minute, so do what you can, take breaks, and get back into it when you're ready.  Start in a seated position, lower and middle back flat against a wall, legs bent with heels touching the floor.  Your feet are flexed, balancing one pole on top of your ankles (see picture). Place your hands on the ground between your legs and press.  Lift your legs up off the floor as high as you can, engaging your abs to do so.  Hold that position for as long as you can, taking breaks when you need to.  Keep going for 1 minute.

- Repeat round 3 two more times - 

And now for the fun part...

WIN A PAIR of BungyPump Walking Poles!

BungyPump Walking Poles Giveaway!

That's right!  You can win a pair for yourself!  The poles themselves range in price depending on the resistance you choose, but the ones seen here (the Walkathlon line) are priced at $135, so I'm excited to be able to offer a pair for free to a lucky reader!  This is a raffle-style giveaway (entry options are below), and the winner will be announced May 17th!  Good luck to you all and I hope you enjoy the workout!

[Update] 15% off BungyPump Poles with code INFITINHEALTH

The giveaway might be over (congratulations to Sonya!), but I'm not leaving you guys empty handed.  Use code INFITINHEALTH to get 15% off ANY BungyPump pole set!  Click here to check out the different styles, and make sure to check back in and let me know how you like them!

Readers: chat with me!  Do you do a lot of active/outdoor walking?  Do you use walking poles?  Have you ever "thought outside the box" when it comes to exercise equipment (if so, what have you used)?  What exercises would you do with the poles if you won them?

Strawberry Basil Smoothie + Green Blender Review [Part 1]

Green Blender Strawberry Basil Smoothie

Okay, first off, yep that's a spinach leaf for garnish instead of basil, but hey - I needed a sprig of green for the pics and didn't think to save a basil leaf until it was too late.  What can ya do?  =P Second, smoothies!  That exclamation point is sincere, but let me tell you, I'm not really a do-it-yourself-er when it comes to smoothies.  Sure, I like the occasional protein shake or fruit smoothie at home, but I don't really make that many smoothies for myself on a regular basis.  I never know what to put in them, and I also don't want to buy a tremendous amount of ingredients only to have them go bad a week later because I shoved them in the fridge drawer and forgot about them (please tell me that happens to you too...?).  Well, insert Green Blender.

Green Blender is a weekly smoothie delivery service that provides you with all the produce, vegetables, and inclusions to make 5 different smoothies per week.  Most of the ingredients are labeled (see picture below) and come in pre-portioned baggies or containers, complete with a little recipe guide for each one.  For my review, I'll be posting about each smoothie individually, and today's smoothie is Strawberry Basil.  As you can see from the ingredients below, there are way more ingredients in this one than just strawberries, basil, and ice.  Walnuts added in some healthy fats and the goji berries (which I've never actually seen in person before!) are rich in beta-carotene.  The pineapple and tomatoes added a bit more tartness, too.

Green Blender ingredients

The smoothie was DELICIOUS and super easy to make.  Seriously, Green Blender takes all the guess work out of making a smoothie.  Since everything is pre-portioned for you, all you do (after washing the produce) is place it all in a blender, add in the right amount of liquid and ice, and bam!  Smoothie.  All the ingredients for this one fit nicely in my single-serve blender, too, which is handy for whipping up a quick snack and taking it on the go.  Keep reading for the recipe and a special DISCOUNT on Green Blender deliveries for blog readers!

Green Blender Strawberry Basil Smoothie

Strawberry Basil Smoothie Recipe

Green Blender Strawberry Basil Smoothie

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 oz grape tomatoes
  • 3 oz strawberries (about 5-6 small ones)
  • 4 oz pineapple chunks
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp goji berries
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup ice

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Wash and prepare all fresh produce
  • Combine all ingredients in blender, add water and ice, and blend on high until smooth.  (Note: Green Blender recommends blending liquids and greens together for 1 minute, then adding remaining ingredients and blending until smooth.  I just combined everything in the order listed, which worked fine as well.)
  • Enjoy!

Special DISCOUNT for blog readers!

Yep, that's right!  You guys are all getting a 20% discount on Green Blender orders using this link, or the code INFITNESS at checkout.  A week of Green Blender will run you $49, so I'm super pumped to give you this discount (that's a free smoothie right there!).  I think Green Blender is a pretty awesome service, especially for people like me who want to jump on the smoothie bandwagon, but don't have the time or recipe creation abilities to do so.  I hope you take advantage of it and stay tuned for 4 more delicious smoothie recipes in the coming weeks!

Readers: chat with me!  Are you on the smoothie (or smoothie bowl) bandwagon?  What are your favorite combinations?  Have you ever heard of Green Blender?  Have you ever tried a food delivery service like this before?  If not, is it something that interests you?

Disclosure: I was gifted a smoothie box from Green Blender to review here on the blog.  All opinions (as always!) are my own.