Jan 19, 2016
Maybe you've heard about Floating AKA reduced environmental stimulant therapy (REST) or sensory deprivation. I'll admit I didn't know much about the therapy other than vague images of 1960s sci-fi iron lungs and a loose memory of an episode of The Simpsons where Homer and Lisa go into pods and trip out in the darkness. That said, I keep hearing about Floating and all the amazing physical and mental benefits it offers, and BOOM Birmingham has the only float spa in the state (and region, I believe), Elements Float Spa. When they invited me to come experience my first float I jumped at the opportunity.
The main entrance to Elements. Really pretty and serene.
Me before my float. I seem a little uptight, right? I wasn't afterwards!
What is floating? So there's this amazing space age pod filled with 10 inches of water and 1000 pounds of medical grade Epsom salts, creating an environment where you absolutely float (think like the Dead Sea). At 93.5 degrees F, the water perfectly maintains your body temp, allowing your body and muscles to fully relax, and within 15-20 minutes you're in a really profound state of relaxation.
What does that mean? So our brains operate of various wavelengths. Floating gives us the unique opportunity and environment to subtly change our body and brain's chemistry, switching to the parasympathetic nervous system and Theta brainwave frequency. It's in these states that the body fast tracks healing on a cellular level and the mind becomes quiet and still without falling asleep. It's a meditative state. You're not going to be hypnotized or be thrown into some deep state, unless you want and allow yourself to go there.
What does it feel like and is it clean? Elements Float Spa is immaculately clean with all the vibes of a therapeutic spa. There are two rooms for floating, each room with a shower, a pod and any amenities you may need. You shower prior to your float, you get in the pod and you push a button to begin and the lights turn off, the filtration system stops and it is perfectly quiet and still. If you have issues with being enclosed in the dark, you can leave the pod door open or crack it and you can float in darkness or with a gently colored light that you can control. There's also the opportunity to plug in your own music if silence isn't your thing. Also, they offer you petroleum jelly if you need to cover any open scratches, cuts or sensitive skin that you don't want exposed to the salt. (I have a couple patches of eczema that I did not cover and while it burned pretty intensely for about 60 seconds, the salt was ultimately good for it.) They also give you standard earplugs if you worry about allowing your head to fully relax and be submerged in the salt water, and there's a mini foam roller to place behind your neck if you need some neck support.
Each float room has earplugs, water barrier for sensitive skin, towels, flipflops, a foam roller for the neck and more.
Cleanliness is a top priority there. The salt content of the water itself is 30% and pathogenic organisms cannot survive higher than 10% salinity. And when you're not in the pod, there's a 24 hr/day UV and ozone filtration system at work. Firsthand experience, everything there is spotless and I feel super safe.
When you get in the pod, the water feels dense and warm. In one hour I never became chilly or too hot, though the air does get a little thick with the door completely closed. You can always crack it if you need to, but I really enjoyed the door down and the air heavy. When you pull yourself out of the water, it feels almost gel like on your skin, though still being liquid. Your skin feels slippery and super hydrated. Your skin and hair do not get dried out or pruney! After my float was over, I simply rinsed off in the shower, not using soap or shampoo. And my hair looked freaking awesome for DAYS.
There is a relaxation lounge for use before and after your session. It's really peaceful and serene.
What was the float experience like? I was nervous at first because I went in there with these expectations that I should slip into a deep meditative state ASAP, and I actually struggled to fully relax once I was simply left with myself in the stillness. This speaks so much more to my own stuff that needs the therapy of floating: I am constantly in fight or flight/stress mode. I struggle to turn off because of being overstimulated in my day to day life. My first several minutes in the float pod were marked by recognizing this and accepting it. I also noticed that with the weightlessness of floating, I could pinpoint where actual physical pain exists. It's a little freaky at first because without all your other senses turned on, your thinking mind rushes to the place where there is sensation. Once I gave up trying to adjust myself and accepted myself, fidgety minded and a little achey in the neck, I started to relax. I focused on my breath. I fidgeted occasionally. I reminded myself that this was my time to accept rest, to accept peace and quiet and the benefits of the salt water. At a certain point I even sat up in the tub and just let my limbs move around and I had this memory of being a little kid and pretending to be a mermaid in anybody of water I could get in, and the words "sacred bath" popped into my head and I smiled and felt myself actually relax. This is not a New Age experience, but it was a deeply personal moment for me and speaks to the fact that each float is unique to the individual.
When I got out of the float, I felt lighter. My joints and the weight of my body felt lighter. I felt pretty radiant and man, my skin and hair looked radiant! And I felt those effects for three or four days afterwards. I noticed I handled stress better, that my baseline was less stressed, that I slept better and that I didn't have the body aches I normally do. That's the minerals at work on a cellular level! Magnesium is a mineral that we ALL NEED SO BADLY but are frequently deficient in. The float gave me a superdose in it that lasted for days!
The relaxation lounge has couches, info on floating, materials for journaling and a beautiful offering of teas and waters.
What are the health benefits? There are SUCH EXTENSIVE benefits. Here are just a few that have some science behind them:
***If you have acute health conditions, talk to your doc and let the Spa know ahead of time. Floating is beneficial to pregnant women after the first trimester.
In summary, I get it. I totally get why this is such a phenomenal healing modality whether you're looking at it from a purely medical/ physically therapeutic POV or if you're wanting some of the mental/emotional/spiritual benefits, too. And I fully believe that regular floats (weekly or 2/month) could mutually compliment other healing modalities (physical therapy, exercise, meditation, energy work). I have heard some really amazing testimonies of long-term float benefits in the improvement of depression and anxiety and chronic pain. It isn't cheap, but there are packages where you get good price breaks.
Additionally, Elements Float Spa offers an infrared sauna and you can also book an energy session, wellness coaching appointment or Reiki with Sheri Bagwell. I met Sheri a while back, and she has become someone I cherish very deeply. I recently experienced one of her energy healing sessions to address some adrenal fatigue and some deep rooted energy blocks going back to my childhood and it has ROCKED MY WORLD in the best way possible. I will be having quarterly sessions with her as part of my Sacred Self Care regimen. But I will write more about that next week.
To book a session at Elements Float Spa, click here. It's a super easy process. And be sure to tell them that Rugged and Fancy sent you!
So Much Love,