By Brenda Ward
Absence of stress, gravity, light and sound has an amazing effect. In a flotation tank, for an hour you have nothing else to do but relax and let your mind be still as you become calm and serene.
The float pod at White Beauty Spa and Float Lounge in Ponsonby is lit by a soothing blue glow when I ease myself into the body-temperature water.
It’s my first time, so I’m not sure this water containing 500 kilograms of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) will hold my weight, but as I timidly stretch out and drop my head back into the water, I realise it’s impossible to sink. My body floats partly under the surface and partly in the warm, moist air inside the pod.
Relaxing music signals when it’s time to start floating, and quietens to silence as you’re encouraged to dim your light and enter the dark, warm, safe world of the pod.
The benefits of floating are many: a deep, restorative state of relaxation that’s almost meditative; an escape from stress, noise and even gravity. Magnesium enters the body through the skin, benefiting those of us who don’t get enough of the mineral in our diets, and helping those who suffer from persistent tiredness, muscle aches, insomnia and even depression.
Co-owner Emma Robins says one hour of floating equals five to eight hours of deep sleep. Sometimes it happens the first time, but usually after several sessions the brain slips into a deeply relaxing ‘theta’ state, allowing the body time to heal without distractions.
Robins says she’s finding clients have a greater need to unwind.
“In just a year, I’ve seen a big increase in stress,” she says. “People are having to work harder and longer, take on more stress. I’ve been blown away by the number of people who can’t get to sleep, or stay asleep.”
Some of the biggest fans of the experience are men, she says, and people of all ages come back regularly for floating packages of two or more sessions.
In my first float, my mind gently wanders as I doze a little, thoughts drifting easily in and out of my mind. After a shower, I feel relaxed, calm and restored, my skin smooth and plumped. And I book for another.
White Spa and Float Lounge, 182 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay, Auckland www.whitespa.co.nz.