Lose the stress with an hour in a space-age floatation tank
It’s not very often that I feel as light as a feather, but my float made me feel positively weightless! Welcome to the world of floating. Just one hour in the purpose designed, space-age-looking tank introduces you to the wonders of an all over sensory experience. Filled with just 30cm of body temperature salt water, all the senses – sound, sight and gravity – are suspended for the duration of the float.
Floatation REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) was developed in America in the 1950s and boasts a number of benefits. It helps to reduce blood pressure, ease back pain and stress and improve creative powers. Plus its said to strengthen the immune system and reset the body’s hormonal and metabolic balances.
Floatation therapy is particularly popular with pregnant women as it relieves back pain and strain. Floating enables all the muscles in the body to stop working and relax which in turn reduces the activity in the logical left side of the brain and increases the creative right side, letting the individual experience the ‘dream state’ similar to when you’re just falling asleep at night.
The combination of a heavy week of parties, shopping and office stress had left me feeling a bit worse for wear and in need of some serious inner rebalance. On arrival to Floatworks, near the fashionable Borough Market in London, the cool, calm atmosphere was in stark contrast to the mania of the outside world – and my own heaving hangover.
I was slightly apprehensive about the having a float. The idea of a tank felt a bit scary, but you’re in total control of the experience – and can open the door and turn on the lights whenever you want. The tanks contain 700lbs of Epsom Salts, which have the combined benefit of helping the body to detoxify and enabling the body to float.
Each floater has their own room, which is dominated by the space-aged looking clam-shaped floatation tank. With the sounds muffled by the earplugs they supply, I felt a bit vulnerable as I lowered my naked body into the silky looking water. What if I got freaked out? Imagine if I got trapped in the tank? Would I come out prune-like, shrivelled by an hour in salt water?
My worries soon dissolved once in the tank. The water is body temperature, colder than my usual bath, but much warmer than a swimming pool. Until you actually float, you realise you’ve never done it before. I was amazed by the buoyancy.
My body was suspended in this ultra-relaxed way. My legs and arms splayed to the side and my head effortlessly bobbed on the surface. At first I pushed myself around the tank, whizzing from side to side and playing with the water whilst slowly lowering the tank lid down.
Too nervous to close it all the way I propped the tank open a crack with my towel. Then as the lights dimmed and all I could hear was the sound of my breathing, I started to take the floatation seriously – and let myself relax.
Before floating you’re warned that certain areas of your body start aching after ten minutes or so. This is normally where you hold a lot of tension – necks, backs and sports injuries and the pain dissipates after a while.
Spending 40-odd hours a week on the computer leaves a few knots in my neck and shoulders. My neck did start to ache, but the pain vanished after a while.
At some point I must have drifted to sleep or into the promised deep relaxation, as when the music came back on, signalling the end of the float I wasn’t sure how long I’d be in there. Pulling myself out of the tank, I felt mellow and spacey and amazingly, my skin felt all peachy and soft.
Did it work?
I loved it.
I felt serene and calm.
My nerves felt chilled and my mind and body unwound. After showering and dressing, I wandered back out on to the London streets with a renewed glow and spring in my step.
My hangover had gone too! That night I slept better than I had in months, and the next day I noticed that the ache in my neck had gone. The effects are said to be cumulative and many floaters come once a month. I will definitely be going back.
Floatworks offers a cheap and friendly alternative to a traditional day-spa. A selection of therapies are on offer, including, reiki, massage and acupuncture, so there’s no reason to not combine a float with a hands-on therapy too.