Breakfast on 1 recently hosted a physiotherapist (opens new window) advertising the Shakti Mat - a yoga mat covered in plastic circles, with each circle consisting of 20 or more sharp spikes. The mat is supposed to work like a bed of nails, activating acupressure points. I've seen the mat sold at shows such as the Go Green Expo, and have stood on one - the points are really sharp, and without socks it was especially painful.
The claims made about qi and therapeutic effects are nonsense, of course.
Of course, the claims made by Shakti have been taken (opens new window) to the Advertising Standards Authority, twice (opens new window), by the Wellington skeptical activism group, and each time the company has admitted fault and changed its advertising to remove misleading claims:
Daniel Ryan complained about the website for the mats in April last year, because they made claims such as:
"provides millions with relief from stress, sleep problems, muscle tension, back pain and headaches"
Shakti agreed to fix their website.
He complained again in October, because new wording on the website said:
"designed for prevention, reduction or complete elimination of stress, sleep problems and back pain"
Again the company changed their website.
Now the site just says:
"The Shakti Mat supports:
- Deep, restful sleep
- Relaxation of tense muscles
- Recovery from headaches
- Recovery from muscular injury
There's also a great Stuff article (opens new window) about the utility of these mats.