Imagine yourself in a blissful state of complete relaxation. You are weightless, stress-free and feeling no pain. It’s perfectly calm and quiet. It’s not magic, this is flotation therapy. Sometimes called sensory deprivation or isolation therapy, devotees swear an hour spent floating feels like four hours of the most amazing sleep ever.
How does it work?
You lie in a tank or ‘pod’ filled with about 1000 litres (25cm) of water, warmed to body temperature, and 600kg of dissolved Epsom salts. It’s this intense concentration of magnesium-rich salt that causes the buoyant, zero-gravity effect. No matter your shape or size, you will float. After a short while, you begin to lose track of where your body ends and the water begins.
What you need to know before you float
• Most sessions are an hour to 90 minutes long.
• Don’t shave or wax the morning of your float. Ouch.
• Prices vary (look for packages) but expect to pay about $70 for a single float.
• Pods are basically bathtubs with lids. If you feel claustrophobic, you can leave the top open.
• No cossie needed; tanks are in private rooms with your own shower for use before and after floating. Robes, towels and earplugs are usually provided.
• Avoid caffeine before your session so you’re less hyped and more able to relax.
• If you have an open wound or infection, wait to heal before you float.
• Pregnant? You should be good to go but check with your doc beforehand.
Stress relief In a deeply relaxed state, the brain releases dopamine and endorphins, which help promote feelings of wellbeing. Also, production of the stress hormone, cortisol, is suppressed. Floating reduces blood pressure and slows the heart rate; it can help alleviate anxiety and depression.
Pain reduction Weightlessness means there’s no stress on joints or bones so it’s ideal for those with arthritis, chronic pain, muscle soreness or tension.
Silky smooth skin The Epsom salts stop your skin from absorbing water and becoming wrinkly.