FLOAT THERAPY: BENEFITS, DOWN SIDES, AND THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN ORANGE COUNTY
I just recently started float therapy and guys - I LOVE IT. I find it more relaxing than acupuncture and cheaper, too! Plus - it helps with a lot of the same symptoms. Flotation therapy, also known as a sensory deprivation tank or an an isolation tank, is when you strip down, enter a big ol' tank of body temperature water (usually around 6x4x1 ft-ish) filled with about 800 lbs of epsom salt, and then just try to relax. It can be hard to get into at first: laying in stillness and silence (or with light music) for an hour in a weightless chamber can lead to some awesome mediation and relation - but it can take awhile to get comfortable with hearing everything in your head and nothing else. That said - once you get the hang of it? Most relaxing hour EVER!
Why so relaxing? First, the simple disconnect and mediation, and second, the high amount of epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) which is a natural muscle relaxer. This helps to calm your nervous system and enhances your body’s natural ability to heal. The deep relaxation state the you enter when floating helps to reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels. Blood flow is stimulated and endorphins are released. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that reduce feelings of pain and trigger positive feelings. Magnesium is absorbed through the skin and tends to naturally correct magnesium deficiencies. Magnesium is also absorbed from the diet but in many areas of the world, over-cropping without adequate replacement of magnesium makes the normal diet low in magnesium. Since the body naturally optimizes the levels of magnesium, there is no real risk of 'over-floating'.
I have tried out two different places now through my Classpass account (tap here for $40 OFF your first month!) and feel like I'm getting a better grasp on what I like and don't like about my float experiences. I've been sharing all my visits on my IG story, but thought it deserved a better explanation with more detail. I was so hesitant to try it my first time because I didn't know anyone else who had tried it and I wanted to share my experiences so YOU could go in feeling informed and ready for relaxation!
First things first - a few things to know:
1. You'll want to enter your float session totally naked. It helps the experience of really disconnecting from the outside world and removing any distractions your clothes hugging or pinching might cause. You'll have a private room to change in before your session that directly connects to your float space to get ready in.
2. You will be provided with ear plugs, but not all places offer vaseline / petroleum jelly and this was something I found I used every time for little cuts, shave bumps, and even on my eczema before getting into the water to protect it from the salt. Also - don't shave or get waxed right before your session. That's just asking for irritation!
3. Eat something first. My first experience ended in me being able to focus only on my growling stomach and that was a bummer. Don't stuff yourself, but a granola bar on hand just in case never hurt anyone.
4. DO NOT GET THE WATER IN YOUR EYE OR MOUTH. You will immediately regret that decision. I wiped my eyes the first visit and had to get out and use the shower to rinse completely before I could get back in. I learned the hard way - you won't like the stinging feeling either, so save yourself the time babes.
5. Claustrophobic? Me too. I was really worried that would affect my experience but I found that it was actually okay for me, even with the pod / door closed. Admittedly, I preferred the pod in terms of having more physical room and a larger exit door.
The first facility I booked was at Float Easy in Costa Mesa (pictured above), and the second (below) - also in Costa Mesa - was called Newport Float Therapy. Here's my rundown of each:
Float Easy: - bigger rooms to shower and get changed in with your private pod - optional light therapy - optional array of 15+ mediations or music selections to be played underwater in your pod while you're inside - staff was awesome and super helpful - shower amenities provided with private bathrooms at the back with combs, hair dryer, ect. - provided towels, earplugs, q-tips, AND petroleum jelly - facilities were very clean but there was some slight water damage on the wall to the left of the pod (you can see in the picture below) - I couldn't figure out my first time how to turn off the blue light, so it was a bit distracting but also kind of nice to have the light on the first time in a small enclosed space - I mentioned it above but I actually think the pod experience would be better suited to someone scared of being enclosed in a smaller space. The tank at NFT was technically larger but the door getting out was much smaller and made my brain feel like the tank was far smaller.
Newport Float Therapy: - great front desk staff, super helpful - similar newish facility, but smaller lobby and waiting area than Float Easy - smaller rooms to change in but larger overall tank size - tanks are NSF certified - tanks are more 'freezer style' than pod. You enter the entire enclosed chamber through a small green door (pictured below) and then are in complete darkness - these tanks were more sensory dep style with no music or meditations playing - because of the black out / sound off factor, I found myself much more easily able to enter a mediative state - had towels, ear plugs and petroleum jelly, plus combs and bathrooms in the back - smaller showers but had full amenities (shampoo, conditioner, body wash) - 2 types of tank sizes here: 6x4 ft and 6x6 ft. I reserved the smaller one initially unknowingly but liked the larger tank better because I didn't bump any of the sides ever and get pulled out of my meditative state. If you want the bigger size, you just have to call and ask.
If you're still curious, I think it's important to note WHY you might want to lock yourself, alone, into a dark, wet chamber for an hour. There are SO many benefits to float therapy besides relaxation, and a lot more than I expected when I started. Here are some of the benefits and areas you will seem improvement with regular float therapy:
Lowers cortisol levels and stress
Fighting anxiety + depression
Joint / muscle pain relief
Increased blood flow
Lactic acid reduction in muscles aids in athletic performance
Insomnia and sleep problems
Tendency towards diabetes
So - should you float? I'm a fan! I like the pod experience more for beginners and the sensory deprivation variation better once you're comfortable in the dark and being in your own head. I definitely plant to keep going an a stress-relieving alternative for my body to acupuncture, and as a new way to challenge myself to disconnect from my thoughts. Plus, its affordable for me as a part of my ClassPass plan and not something I've having to pay extra out of pocket to try out. Remember, you can use my class pass discount code for $40 OFF your first month if you want to try it!
I would love to hear your thoughts on floating - have you tried it? Did you like it? Leave your experiences in the comments below so other newbie floaters can learn, too!