By Naari Honor
Since the age of ancient Babylonia, society has used the start of a new year as motivation to implement personal change. Some see the process of transitioning from old to new, as just the right amount of encouragement needed to wage a war on unfinished business. For some, the mere mention of reflection elicits visions of meditating in yoga pants and if that’s your thing, the Port City is home to several experts in the field. If you’re looking for something a little different – Floatation therapy might just be the thing.
“We’re all living on a freaking treadmill,” says Robert Brady, owner of Aqua Float and Cryo. “We’re all rats on a little treadmill and really just need to calm down, chill and get clarity.” His escape from the rat race? Sixty minutes of floating in a soundproof egg-shaped pod, filled with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt and a foot of water heated to body temperature.
Flotation therapy dates back to 1954 with the creation of the first isolation tank by neurophysiologist Dr. John C. Lilly. He and fellow scientists used a harness to suspend themselves in a tank filled with warm salt water in the name of research. Today’s flotation tanks resemble the spaceship from Mork and Mindy, are harness-free, and offer participants the ability to customize their experience with meditative music and optic lighting.
The aptly named, Aqua Float & Cryo wellness center, gives clients the option of adding a 3-minute detox in the cryogenic tank, a 60-minute massage, a NormaTec limb rejuvenation session, or a one-person infrared sauna session, to their float. Clients can also try any one of the center’s services a-la-carte. Brady, an avid floater, often uses his lunchtime to float.
“I think the biggest thing about it is the rest and relaxation,” Brady says. “I do my best thinking in there. I put all the pieces together, which none of us gets to do. As soon as we get up in the morning we go, go, go until we pass out at night.”
While flotation therapy offers individuals private time and space to focus inwardly void of everyday nuances, it also provides several health benefits says Beth Jones, owner of Float Spa SF.
“Floating is incredible for both physical and mental health,” Jones says, “Impacting five major body systems simultaneously and has been found as one of the only methods to balance the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems at the same time.”
While there is a plethora of health benefits associated with float therapy, according to Jones, including improved function in both the immune and cardiovascular systems, increased blood circulation and a decrease in pain a soreness, repetitive floats harness the most benefits. “You eat one piece of broccoli you’re not going to be healthy,” Brady says. “It’s the consistency factor.”
Float Spa SF encourages all new clients to float at least three times within the first four to six weeks of starting flotation therapy. After three initial sessions, the spa will help clients create a maintenance plan based on wellness goals.
True REST Float Spa is a franchise created by Nick and Holly Janicki. After opening their first spa in Arizona in 2009, they decided that the world could benefit from float therapy which led to the creation of the True REST Float Spa franchise. “We specialize in float therapy,” said True Float REST spa guide, Justin Worlock. “We take real pride in that.”
When you arrive for your appointment, your spa guide takes you to a dimly lit room with several leather chairs, a flat screen television and a tower of salt lamps. Once settled, you’ll be shown two videos, the first, is a compilation of ever-changing geometric shapes, dancing against a soundtrack of meditative music.
“The shapes are designed so that you relax the frontal cortex of the brain,” says Worlock. “Even the music we play has been scientifically proven to relieve anxiety.”
After about five minutes of watching the transcendental video, it’s changed to an informational one about what to expect during your floating experience. Once complete, you can take a moment to sit in an adjacent quiet space with a small water and tea bar. Six beaker jars emanating various hues of beautiful light sit on top of a small cabinet – it’s an oxygen bar.
“It is good to use after your float,” Worlock says. “It definitely takes time to catch your bearings after your first float.”
Worlock explains how aromatherapy is pumped through the oxygen bar. The mixture of essential oils in purified water, provides four times the oxygen and helps restore the balance one may feel of after their first float.
Inside the pod, you can choose to pump in music from your own playlist, listen to a meditative selection curated by the spa or float in complete silence. There is also the option to use the optic lighting or float in complete darkness. The reduction of stimuli and water heated to 94-96 degrees helps to induce a waking sleep and increase brainwave activity.
After the 60 to 90-minute float session an automated sound will let you know the session has ended. Due to the amount of salt contained in the float pod, it is suggested that you take a moment to rinse off prior to redressing.
Float REST’s oxygen bar is the next stop after the session, where you can chose what aromatherapy you would like to try.
“Eucalyptus for congestion, lavender to compliment a late-night float or frankincense for stress,” suggests Worlock. The bar is said to provide four-times the oxygen one would normally take in.
Wilmington is known for its beautiful beaches, but as time goes on more business owners are calling the Port City home and it seems that flotation therapy is the new kid on the block.