To float or not to float? An interesting question posed when I was asked whether I was interested in testing out one of the latest relaxation techniques here in Melbourne. Floating seems like such a different technique that I hadn’t really heard of before and thought to give it a go. After all, who doesn’t want to relax?
Floating or otherwise known as flotation therapy or sensory deprivation aims to achieve relaxation, recovery and aid sleep deprivation and pain relief…. all things I experience as a mother of a very active toddler and an ardent attendee of Barre classes.
The concept of floating involves lying in a pod which contains a highly concentrated Epsom salt solution (700kg of magnesium sulphate) which allows you to float effortlessly. The salt solution contains essential minerals to promote relaxation, vibrancy and energy and melt any tension in your body. Water in the pod is heated to skin temperature to enable that weightless feeling once your body is floating.
Having a float after doing attending a gruelling Barre cardio class that morning seemed like a good idea given the benefits that floating aims to achieve. Admittedly, at first, the thought of floating in a pod with the lid closed, played on my claustrophic fears. However, any apprehension I had soon disappeared after stepping foot into the beautiful Gravity Flotation Centre on High St in Northcote.
The centre boasts 6 stunning rooms each named after the NASA space shuttles that contain a pod and shower facilities. Andy, one of the founders of Gravity Flotation Centre, gave me a comprehensive introduction to my ‘pod room’ and it was time to start floating. The pod itself is approximately 2.6m long by 1.8m wide with a lid that can be closed fully so that it is both sound and light proof. Initially, I chose to keep the lid open whilst I got used to the pod then closed it fully later on. The initial sensation of getting in and then moving to a ‘floating’ position felt unnatural at first given I’d never floated in highly concentrated salt water before. Once I learnt to really let the water hold my weight I was able to really let go and relax.
The pod has built-in MP3 speakers and tribal music is played for the first 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, the pod is completely silent and this is when the real relaxing begins. The next 50 minutes went very quickly and by the time the music came on to signal to me the float was almost over, I had to wake up from the slumber I had fallen into!
After the float, the muscles that had been aching after doing exercise that morning seemed to have all but disappeared and whilst I felt really relaxed, I also had a lot more energy! Whilst I’m a big fan of regular remedial massage, I can definitely see the benefits of having regular floats instead of or in addition to remedial massage. I would definitely recommend those who love a bath too to try floating!
Floating is also very beneficial for pregnant women, ideally in their second trimester (women in their first and third trimester are advised not to float). A pregnant friend floated at 20 weeks and found it helped alleviate her lower back pain. Also she was able to hear her baby’s heartbeat!
If you’re looking for something new to help with relaxation then definitely give floating a try.
Gravity Flotation Centre
559 High Street, Northcote VIC 3070