Flotation is a spa treatment that cushions you in weightless buoyancy, relieving stress, aches and pain. Either in a closed tank or in an open pool, flotation treatments support you on a bed of water as your anxieties slip away.
What is flotation?
Flotation is a deeply-relaxing body treatment that allows you to experience total weightlessness. It's like physical dreaming. Unlike floating in the ocean or pool, where you need to contribute physically to staying afloat, this spa treatment allows you complete weightless relaxation. Some flotation treatments include other aspects to indulge your senses as well: lights, sounds and variations in temperature all help to make this a full body experience that should ooze into your whole consciousness.
Flotation tanks allow privacy and quiet as well, which means that this treatment is often compared to returning to a womb-like state.
What is flotation good for?
Apart from bringing deep relaxation, flotation is known to have physical benefits as well, including:
relieving stress on joints and muscles
enabling faster recovery from muscle and joint strain
encouraging easier and deeper sleep
causing your body to release endorphins, which relieves pain and may lower blood pressure.
The mineral salts in some flotation tanks are also beneficial for the skin.
Before you go
Just find out what you need to wear and how long you should arrive in advance. If you have a flotation treatment at a spa, it will usually be part of a complete facilities package; make sure that you get as much out of your package as possible.
If you experience claustrophobia a sealed flotation tank may well not be appropriate for you. But there are plenty of other ways to enjoy flotation and many spas now offer large open pools.
If you have any medical conditions, if you are, or think you might be, pregnant, or if you have recently been ill or had surgery, it's worth flagging that up to the therapists in case it's not appropriate for you to have the treatment for any reason.
What to expect from flotation
Floatation is a very unusual and deeply relaxing experience. There isn't a lot to it; a flotation pool at a spa will either be available as part of their pool and spa facilities or will exist as a separate pool or tank which you can use alone. The staff will explain how long you should stay.
Flotation is a great treatment to combine with others. It is a really indulgent part of any relaxation or detoxing spa ritual or package.
Imagine it's about seven o'clock on a warm summer's evening on the coast of Italy; you're just emerging from a really fantastic snooze having dreamed of something wonderful - this is how smug and warm you should feel after a good flotation treatment. For goodness sake, don't spoil it by rushing off. Go and have a lie down in the tepidarium or have a really delicious meal.
Different kinds of flotation
The principle of flotation is the same across the board - that your body is treated to weightlessness.
The most common form is wet flotation - something is added to pure clean water to create buoyance that will take your full body weight. You might have a dead sea, mineral, aromatherapeutic or herbal flotation which simply describes the kind of salt that has been added to the water to make you float. Each of these minerals will do different things for you and your skin; they might be detoxing, softening, sensuous, depending on what's being added.
Dry flotation is a bit different in that it can be simultaneously combined with other treatments, and you don't have to get wet. Instead, you are cocooned in a kind of plastic blanket, which is itself full of water. You may find you have a cream/mud/aromatherapy body treatment that includes dry flotation; the warm water surrounding you will make the oils, lotions or potions absorb more effectively into your skin.
Meditation flotation is likely to include special lights and gentle music to help you to relax deeply.