Monday, April 13, 2015

Relaxation: I tried float therapy



Floatation and sensory deprivation therapy review. Floatation tank with light and music.


Also called floatation therapy, this relaxation technique born in the 1950s has gained popularity in the past decade and float spas have started to flourish in big cities. 

At first I wasn't tempted at all. I saw pictures of floatation tanks that looked like industrial dryers, and the idea of being stuck in the darkness of a metal box half-filled with water was less than appealing to my slightly claustrophobic self. Then one day I saw photos of what looked like futuristic white pods, with rounded shapes and and a light inside, and I thought that I could manage that. I was still a bit apprehensive, but it looked a lot less scary. 

If you search the internet for the benefits of floatation therapy, you'll find that it cures basically everything... The truth is that it reduces stress levels, both physical and psychological stress, and it just makes you feel better. The idea behind it is that sensory deprivation, the isolation from external stimulation, allows your mind to get into a meditative state. Additionally, the water's very high salt level makes it very buoyant so you can float without any effort at all, which allows your muscles to relax. 

The experience was unlike anything else I've lived before. The floating pod I was in had a light inside and an underwater speaker playing new age music, both could be switched off. I wasn't sure if I could close the door (that you can also open/close from the inside) and stay in the dark without freaking out. I tried closing the door, and although my space was reduced, I felt fine. After a minute or two, I started to find the music annoying, so I turned it off, and decided to try and turn off the light too. Not scary at all. The fact that I was in lukewarm water was somehow reassuring. 


Floatation and sensory deprivation therapy review. Floatation tank with light and music.
The floating tank. Fresh water spray to rinse in case you get salty
water on your face. Light color can be changed (to pink I think?).

They don't laugh when they say that the water is super salty: I accidentally got some inside my nostril and it BURNT. This extreme salinity also made the water carry my body, like, I could sit on the water, if that makes any sense (ever seen pictures of people in the Dead Sea reading the newspaper while seating on the water? Same thing). It's actually very surprising for someone who has never experienced it, it's like being in a zero-gravity environment. You can just lay down with all your muscles completely relaxed, even your neck, and float happily without having water in your face. When you're tensed though, it's not always that easy to relax your muscles. I was able to let go of my legs almost immediately (really enjoyable since I've had knee pain for the past few weeks), but relaxing my shoulders and neck took some time. I even had muscle spasms in that area for a few minutes while adjusting. After a while (no idea how long, time stops in the dark), I was able to soften my cervical area, and I found that the best posture for that was with my arms up next to my ears (I was showed a video before floating that explained different positions you can take). 

When I moved, I would drift a bit and sometimes go from one side of the pod to the other, touching the wall for a few seconds before the wave I created would disappear. When my body was finally completely loose, my mind just left the pod. I can't say that I meditated, because I didn't do anything to control my thoughts, I didn't try to focus on a mantra or on my breathing. But by the time the light came back on at the end of my 60-minute session, I was far gone. I don't think I fell asleep, but I was in that sweep spot between sleep and full consciousness. That probably means that my brain waves switched to theta, and that's supposed to be really cool. 

The only annoyance I experienced was actually related to my seasonal allergies. When floating without any tension in my neck, my head was slightly tilted backwards, and around the middle of the session, my sinuses got completely stuffed. I had to switch to breathing through my mouth, and meditation gurus would tell you that it's not ideal for relaxation. 

Getting out of my tank was very hard, as hard as getting up from a warm bed on a cold Monday morning. After floating, you absolutely need a shower to wash away the salt: I was wearing a hair clip and the first layer of shiny plastic has basically dissolved... The spa attendant told me to drink a lot after the session. It makes sense because salty water sucks out your fluids (it's a treatment used to heal wounds). Afterwards, I felt very calm all day. It was as if everything had slowed down a bit. I also had really good sleep that night, and my muscles felt a lot less sore and tensed than usual. Unfortunately that only lasted for the day. 

Overall: floating was a deeply relaxing experience, and I'd like to do it again. I did not feel uncomfortable being in the dark in an enclosed space at all! In my highly internet connected life, sensory deprivation was soothing and incredibly calming. I also immensely enjoyed the total body relaxation - my body felt even better than it does after a good massage. I would totally recommend floatation therapy to anyone looking for "me time" and relaxation. Try to look for Amazon local/Livingsocial/Groupon deals if you're interested, that's how I bought my session for only $30.

The service featured in this review was purchased by Lulle. I received no compensation to write this post, which only reflects my personal opinion. This post contains affiliate links.

5 comments:

  1. This sounds SO interesting...thank you for posting about it!!! I'm going to look for a place near me!!

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    Replies
    1. Let me know how it goes for you! And definitely check Groupon and the likes, they constantly have at least one floating deal in my city.

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  2. Super cool! Have a nice day, sweetie!!

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  3. I have never heard of it but it looks really interesting. I need to read more about it!

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's very trendy here in California, but for once I think it's not a silly fad, it made me feel really great!

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