The first time I heard about floating, I was told that 90 minutes in a float tank was equal to five hours of sleep.
UM — WHAT? You have my attention.
Aside from this striking piece of information, I wondered what on earth is a float tank and what is FLOATING?
Allow me to demystify: float tanks – or float pods – are lightless, soundproof tanks filled with water with high Epsom salt content that creates the perfect condition for floating. Floating is a method of relaxation rooted in sensory deprivation or REST (restricted environmental stimulation therapy ). In short, by eliminating sound, light, touch and, basically, gravity you are able to attain a deep state of relaxation. Or so I was told.
So how does it work?
In these float pods, the water is tempered to match the average body temperature; sound is eliminated when the pod is closed; and, unless you choose to leave the light on, you are left in total darkness. The Epsom salt provides an unparalleled buoyancy so that you truly feel weightless. (I know those of you who suffer from claustrophobia are just dying on the inside while reading this. I should say that a simple tap on the roof of the pod forces it fly open. No panic rooms here.)
Though “float houses” have only recently garnered popularity in Western culture, the concept of floating and sensory deprivation is not at all new. In fact, the first sensory deprivation tank, used for scientific experiments, was invented in 1954. This tank was later developed for commercial use and called Samadhi, a Sanskrit word for “higher consciousness”.
Since then, the trend has been revitalized. On the West coast, float houses have been popping up at an alarming rate. And it has finally made its way to Ottawa, with ISO Spa – Ottawa’s only downtown floatation center. The “spa” itself is GORGEOUS and emits zen vibes from the minute you walk through the doors.
But, why would someone want to lie in complete darkness for over an hour? I’ve learned that the health benefits to floating are enormous. Floatation is said to reduce stress, improve recovery from workouts or training and aid with the absorption of magnesium. It also gives you the opportunity to completely unplug – which has to be good for you, right?!
To maximize these benefits, it’s recommended that you float more than once, as with each float comes a greater state of relaxation. Though I’m only a one-time offender, I thoroughly enjoyed my 90-minute experience. I didn’t fall asleep in the pod but, after the initial 10 minutes of mind-racing, I was able to “chill the heck out” – as Amy in 613 put it. I only got salt-water in my eyes once – a mishap that I recommend taking every precaution against (i.e. don’t touch your face with your hands!). I also found it was a great way to stretch sore muscles – without the force of gravity, stretching in the pod is very fulfilling and a great tool to use when recovering from a strenuous work out.
And when my 90 minutes was up, I left the pod with an after-float glow – feeling a little hazy but very peaceful.
For more information on floating in Ottawa, check out ISO Spa’s Facebook Page or follow them on insta @isospa – you won’t regret it!