There’s nothing quite like floating. You feel weightless and calm, as if you’re in a silent limbo between the outside world and ultimate relaxation. Floating in an open body of water like the Pacific Ocean, however, may not be the most relaxing of scenarios. Lately, flotation therapy has become an increasingly popular trend. Climbing into an isolated floatation tank, most of which are filled with high volumes of Epsom salts, is designed to heal the body and transport you into complete relaxation.
Why float? Floating in these Epsom salt water tanks suspends the body, allowing your brain to completely relax. Your heart rate, stress levels, and urinary cortisol decrease. During this state of relaxation, studies have shown an increased optimism and a decrease in anxiety and depression. The hour that you are in the tank is supposed to help people sleep easier, and the quality of the sleep should be better.
Floatation therapy, originally called sensory deprivation therapy, was first tested by John C. Lily in the mid 1950s. It started as a way to study the brain by depriving it of external stimulation. What started as a brain study evolved into a type of therapeutic relaxation. By having the air and water temperature equal the temperature of the skin, the boundary between the body an water disappears. Isolation tanks evolved to more relaxing floatation tanks that added Epsom salt to the water. The addition of Epsom salt was to further relax the body and mind, aid with floatation, and detoxify the body.
Floating in these isolation tanks is almost like entering a miniature version of the Dead Sea. People have gone to the Dead Sea, which is located in Israel and borders the West Bank and Jordan, to feel rejuvenated for many years. At about 1,300ft below sea level, the surface of the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth. It is a hypersaline lake (total salinity being about 33%, making it about 8 times saltier than the ocean) that makes people incredibly buoyant. Floating on the surface feels like you are lounging on a floatation device. Your arms, legs, and head sit atop the water, making it so you can read a book or newspaper on the surface. While floating aids relaxation, the minerals found in both the Dead Sea and the floatation tanks help purify the self.
The Dead Sea contains high volumes of calcium, magnesium, salt, iodine, potassium, and zinc, among a few others, while the Epsom salt in the floatation tanks are rich in magnesium sulfate compound. By relaxing in the floatation tanks, the magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin. Similarly, people at the Dead Sea make their way to the shore to rub the soil all over their bodies. By smearing what is known as the “Dead Sea Mud” all over the body, the skin absorbs all the beneficial minerals. Since the skin is the largest organ in the body, it’s the best way to reap the benefits of these minerals. What magnesium sulfate does is draw the stress and anxiety out of the body and boosts the production of serotonin, the chemical in the brain that promotes relaxation. Soaking in the floatation tanks helps eliminate toxins from the body and increase natural energy.
Floatation therapy has increased in popularity and is available in most countries around the world. By floating in the Epsom salt, your body will absorb the minerals in the tub and you should theoretically come out feeling like a new, relaxed person. Let us know if you have tried floatation therapy because we’d love to hear about it.