Float away stress…

Floatation tanks are becoming an increasingly popular way to chill out and relax, so I decided to check it out!
me - in the chill-out room after my float!
me – in the chill-out room after my float!

Pulling down the door of the pod, I couldn’t help feeling apprehensive. After all, I would be totally alone, in the pitch black and with no sound – for an entire hour. It’s a strange mix of confronting yet comforting… an hour’s detox from the outside world.

This was my first experience of “floating” being suspended in a pod kept at a constant temperature of 35.5 Celsius – this is skin-receptor neutral, which basically means you lose track of where your body ends and the water begins.

I’ve got friends who are self-confessed “float devotees” who assure me it’s the most relaxing experience you can have. And the leaflet I was handed at reception boasted “being in a float tank is like relaxing in outer space,” which is a kind of bizarre as I’m sure if I was in outer space the last thing I’d feel like was relaxing.

But I’m always keen to try new challenges and so here I am stark naked (yes, wearing swimmers will restrict the experience) lying in 600 kilos of Epsom salts.

To help ease you in, there is a light with a soft mauve light – it’s up to you if you want to keep it on or off and for the first ten minutes soft music plays – then nothing. My ears are below the surface of the water (earplugs are essential). I move my arms around trying to push down to the bottom of the pod, but it’s like pushing through heavy mud. After a few seconds I give up and surrender myself to the float. I use my breath to quieten my mind – and feel a sense of relief wash over me. This is the closest thing to shutting off the outside world and coming back to yourself. No distractions, no children fighting, no text messages bleeping. Nothing. And I love it.

My floatation tank..!
My floatation tank..!

I lie weightless – the last time I was in a situation like this was many years ago when I was in the womb – the parallels are uncanny – surrounded by warm water (kind of like amniotic fluid), being buffeted gently against the walls of the pod (kind of like a belly) and feeling safe, secure and nurtured. It makes me think what a fabulous practice this would be for mums-to-be – and new mums!

From time-to-time thoughts do cross my mind – it’s easy to get caught up with them, but years of yoga and meditation help me to focus once more on the breath. I’m not sure what it would be like if you hadn’t practiced meditation before – and I wonder fleetingly what it would be like if you were claustrophobic. But no I don’t want to go there. Back to the breath I repeat in my mind like a mantra. And then I succumb to a blissful state of total tranquility – I can almost feel my brain pumping out dopamine and endorphins.

Apparently after about 30-40 minutes your mind starts producing theta brainwaves – responsible for that delicious sensation of drifting between sleep and wakefulness. Ahhh… and then suddenly the music turns back on and I feel slight aggrieved – I want to stay longer, I’m not ready for the outside world again. Reluctantly I get out and drip over to the shower – the centre has organic shampoo, conditioner and body wash, so I enjoy a long, luxurious shower and then step into the “chill-out room” equipped with herbal tea, hammocks and yoga mats. I could get used to this.

I thought my skin might feel dry from the Epsom salts, but instead it feels silky smooth – my muscles feel soft and relaxed as if I’ve had an hour-long massage and the sensation of peace wraps around me like a soft blanket – and I’m amazed and delighted to say that the sensation remained with me for the next few days…

Since experiencing my float, I managed to persuade my husband to come with me the next time. We booked a babysitter – had adjoining pods and then swapped experiences.

‘What did you think?’ I asked Alec – who was looking very sleepy on the hammock. “Fabulous,’ he replies – blissed out.

So would I recommend the experience? Yes – although do be prepared for a slight feeling of trepidation – especially if you are plugged into devices 24/7. But if this kind of experience concerns you, it probably means you really need to float. I’m told that people with claustrophobia often have no problems – the pods are 9ft long and 6ft wide – and you can get out at anytime.

You can doze off, and the water is so buoyant you stay afloat – but you might just experience a bit of salt in your eye – this does sting a little, but there is a spray bottle of fresh water in the pod.

And for those clean freaks – don’t worry between each float the water is fully filtered three times – to 1/100th of a human hair – wow! So it’s no surprise that floats are becoming more popular!IMG_4901

And should mums-to-be float?

The people at the Sydney Float Centre in Brookvale, say Floatation Therapy is good for mums-to-be as it allows you to escape the added weight of pregnancy by floating in weightless environment – alleviating that added strain from your body and spine.

Floatation therapy also promotes excellent sleep, a sense of well being, and the Epsom salt solution in the Float Pod will help decrease inflammation pregnant floaters might be experiencing as well as allow them to absorb loads of magnesium through their skin. This can aid in regulating blood pressure and reducing lactic acid, which regulates the bodies natural pH balance.

But like all exercise and therapies it is always best to get a medical clearance from your doctor – especially if you are in your third trimester.

I’d love to hear your floatation experience – and what you do to detox from the outside world! And if floating isn’t your thing, remember you can sign up to my Ten Minute Tone online program with a selection of six soothing guided meditations! 

Please leave a comment below! 

Love Katie x