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What is floatation?

Floatation 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. Having got you to this point, some floatation treatments include aspects to indulge your other senses as well: lights, sounds and variations in temperature all help to make this a whole-body experience that should ooze into your whole consciousness.

Floatation tanks allow privacy and quiet as well, which means that this treatment is often compared to returning to a womb-like state.

What is floatation good for?

Apart from bringing deep relaxation, floatation can 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 floatation tanks are also beneficial for the skin.

Floatation is a great treatment to combine with others. It is a really indulgent part of any relaxation or detoxing spa ritual or package.

Before you go

Just find out what you need to wear and how long you should arrive in advance. As the experience is usually private, you're probably all right to go naked. But some spas have special floatation rooms where you may be with other people, or pass them coming to and fro, in which case you'll want to take your swimming costume.

If you have a floatation 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.

Precautions

If you experience claustrophobia a sealed floatation tank may well not be appropriate for you. But there are plenty of other ways to enjoy floatation 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 floatation for any reason.

What to expect from floatation

Flotation 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.

Hot tip!

Water water water. One of our male spa spies tried out this treatment and had a great experience and really enjoyed it. BUT he also said that it really will leave you very thirsty, and if you don't drink plenty of water afterwards, you risk a severe headache because of salt-induced dehydration. This is what happened to him - and he pointed out that he spent more on analgaesic recovering than he did on the treatment itself.

Afterwards

Ever seen a cat stretching himself out after emerging from another 12-hour snooze looking for some cream? This is how smug and warm and woozy you should feel after a good floatation treatment.

Don't spoil it by rushing off! Go and have a lie down in the tepidarium or curl up on some cushions with a great book, magazine or your MP3 player. And drink plenty of water!

Different kinds of floatation

The principle of floatation is the same across the board - that your body is treated to weightlessness.

The most common form is wet floatation - 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 floatation 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 floatation 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 floatation; the warm water surrounding you will make the oils, lotions or potions absorb more effectively into your skin.

A meditation floatation is likely to include special lights and gentle music to help you to relax deeply.

Courtesy of the Good Spa Guide

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