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    How To Use An Acupressure Mat

    Hint: it's all about creating the right amount of pressure for you.

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    After my coworker sang the praises of her acupressure mat, a lot of us here became slightly obsessed with them.

    Rachel Miller

    Not gonna lie, I was Priming one before I'd even finished reading her post. (The one I have is $19.99 on Amazon and comes in seven colors.)

    Acupressure follows the same principles as acupuncture does, but with acupressure, needles don’t actually enter the skin. Acupressure mats are covered with small disks that have tiny spikes intended to stimulate the body at certain points in order to provide therapeutic benefits, like pain relief and stress relief.

    John Gara / BuzzFeed

    After ordering one, I learned two things: first, that figuring out the ideal way to use it for your body will probably take a little trial and error.

    Rachel Miller

    It's all about creating the right amount of pressure for you. So you can place the mat on the floor, or use it on a softer surface (like a bed or a couch) to create less pressure. (You can also sort of curve it into a chair and sit on it that way.) And you can use it against bare skin or wearing a thin layer of clothing — or you can do some combination of both. (For example: no shirt + underwear.) You can also lay on it for varying amounts of time (anywhere from 10–45 minutes). And you may find that if you wear less clothes, you'll need to do it on a softer surface or for less time. Basically, it's all about trying it a few different ways and seeing what feels right to you.

    My current preferred method is to put the mat on my bed and lay on it with no shirt and underwear/bottoms pulled down just low enough to expose my lower back.

    Second: there are multiple ways you can use one.

    I assumed you would just lay on it on your back and be done with it, but you can actually use it on multiple parts of your body.

    If you're curious about all the different ways you can use an acupressure mat, here's a guide:

    Note: I'm wearing clothes in all these photos because this is the internet, but you're probably going to want more skin-to-mat contact when you do this.

    Chest and Abdomen

    John Gara / BuzzFeed

    Lie down with your stomach and chest on the mat. (The mat should come to the top of your chest.) Cross your arms below your head and rest your head on your arms. (Don’t use the pillow attachment for this one!)

    Neck and Back

    John Gara / BuzzFeed

    Lie down with your back on the mat and the pillow supporting your neck. Then bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your feet flat will increase contact between the mat and your lower back, and is my preferred method, but you can stretch your legs out if that’s more comfortable.

    Hamstrings

    John Gara / BuzzFeed

    Sit upright with your glutes toward one edge of the mat so that your legs fit on the it as much as possible. You can place your hands behind you, fingers pointing toward your body, for support, or you can stretch while holding this move, reaching your fingers toward your toes.

    Quadriceps

    John Gara / BuzzFeed

    Lie face down with the top of the mat hitting your lower stomach. You can either rest your upper body on the floor or place your hands a few inches in front of the mat and push your upper body up to stretch. Personally, I found this position pretty uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time, so be sure to listen to your body and be gentle with yourself.

    Outer Thighs

    John Gara / BuzzFeed

    Sit on the mat facing sideways, with your left leg stacked directly below your right leg. Place your hands on the mat or floor below your shoulders for support.

    After 10–15 minutes, switch sides, stacking your right leg directly below your left leg, and support yourself with your hands.

    Feet

    John Gara / BuzzFeed

    Place the pillow on the floor and sit in a chair a few inches behind the pillow. Place your feet on the pillow. (You can also stand on the mat, but definitely ease on to it very slowly because it can be really intense.)

    John Gara / BuzzFeed

    Get the mat from Amazon or Walmart for $19.99.