Hometraining start ritual

This month I am sharing my start ritual for home training sessions and my energiser/feel good mat-tool.

I’ve found that my start ritual is a great way to start a session so I hope it will work for you. Setting the mood and telling my body – in a gentle way – to get ready to move, this ritual focuses my mind and makes it easy to transition into my training plan. Performed about eight-10 times, with a little squat at the end, it’s also a gentle warm-up.

My energiser/feel-good mat tool, is a little ‘prickly’ mat, which I roll out now and again to release (superficial) tightness in the back, or just to ‘feel good’ or relax (afterwards). More about this at the end of the column.

‘A half sun salute’ or simply stretching towards ceiling and then greeting the toes, is the start of my home training ritual. It doesn’t matter if I plan to do squats and sit-ups, burpees or shadow boxing. 

The full stretch from fingertips to toes, and full attention to legs, back, core, chest, shoulders and arms provides the perfect start to a session.

It can be quick or slow to do, depending on the mood and timeframe. It takes up very little space and honestly feels so refreshing that sometimes just doing the full sun salutation, along with some 20-ish push-ups is enough training for me. 

To do the ‘half sun salute’: 1) Start by standing tall, bare feet next to each other, straight back, arms down the side, exhale. 2) Exhale. Fold upper body slowly and deliberately down towards the floor. Reach towards your toes and point nose to your knees. 3) Inhale. ‘Roll’ up to standing position. Think one backbone at the time.  

From here you can either start over, complete the full sun salute or start your planned training session.

I won’t cover the full sun salutation here, as I only use the start in my home training ritual. If you want to do the full salutation you can find images and description online, or contact me and I’ll forward the information to you. 

The prickly mat (or Acupressure mat) is a mat with hundreds of small plastic spikes on it. It’s built to work the same way as acupressure or acupuncture. The hundreds of small spikes targets the whole area used on the mat at the same time. This intensifies the blood flow under the skin, making the surrounding muscle groups feel warmer/loose. It also leads to a release of endorphins, which makes the feeling of pain subside. There are claims it may help with anxiety and sleep, but no clinical trials have been done to verify these possible benefits.

You can use it by lying on your back, standing barefoot, or resting your head on it. Due to its hundreds of small spikes, it is NOT a precise tool and neither can or should replace professional acupuncture / acupressure therapy. 

Beginners can use it on a yoga mat, sofa or bed, with a thin fabric between spikes and skin like a t-shirt, to make the spikes less prickly. More experienced users often use the floor/harder surface, and lie on it skin to spikes.

Personally I can testify that about 10 minutes of lying on the mat makes the back muscles under the skin feel less tight (It didn’t relieve deep muscles tightness) and makes you feel good afterwards. 

You can use it for as long as you like, but general guidelines are 10-40 minutes to get full benefits. From my experience, I find that you need be careful not to move while lying on it. It will scratch your skin, which can hurt. Also if you have a skin condition, thin skin or a scratch/bump/rash/healing wound, it might be better to use a thin fabric between the spikes and skin or wait until your skin is better. 

There is no real correlation between price and effectiveness of these mats, so a cheap brand often works just as well as a more expensive one. If you are pregnant or have a heart or blood condition, ask your GP before getting one. 

Stay active and enjoy.

Comments and questions are as usual welcome at taniaskitchenfitness@gmail.com or via comments or messages on Instagram: @trainwithadane 

Tania Presutti

Tania Presutti is a Danish freelance journalist and fitness professional who now resides in Clonakilty.

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