We’re all looking for ways to relax. Whether it’s a nice long massage, taking a calming yoga class, or just sitting on your couch curled up with a nice book, there’s something for everyone. As someone who is easily stressed out, I am always looking for new ways to calm myself down. Enter Flotation Philly– a facility with sensory deprivation tanks that allow you to completely turn your mind off, and float your worries away.
Sensory deprivation starts with tuning out the outside world- you’re given ear plugs, and when you’re in the pod, it’s completely pitch black. Inside the pod is about 10 inches of Epsom salt water- more dense than the Dead Sea. The water is heated to about 94*, so it’s nice and comfortable- not too hot, but not too cold either. The idea is for you to literally lay down in the pod, and float, left alone with nothing but your thoughts for the duration of your booking.
I had never heard of floating before, but was curious. After finding out that my dad had gone to a spa in the 80’s that had floating pods, we both eagerly booked our session at Flotation Philly. We had taken advantage of an awesome Black Friday deal I noticed on their Instagram, so be sure to follow along (@FlotationPhilly) for updates. (An important aside is that they are extremely accommodating with having to change your appointment- you do it online, and they don’t cancel your existing time until a new time is booked- this came in handy, because although we originally booked in November, we ended up not being able to go until March).
Once we walked into the facility, we were greeted by the owner, who explained to us how the facility works, and what we should expect. The facility has two different pods- an evolution pod and an escape pod. What’s the difference? Well, the evolution pod is a little bit more high tech- there’s music if you want it, there’s light if you want it, it was perfect for a beginner like me, who wasn’t sure if I would enjoy being in complete darkness.
The escape pod serves the same exact purpose as the evolution pod, there’s just no fancy frills about it. They both have the same amount of water, they both remove you from the outside world.
Before you enter the pod, you have to wash yourself off in the shower, in order to remove any excess oils or lotions that may be on your skin. The showers at Flotation Philly are extremely clean- and there’s shampoo and conditioner for you to use when you are done your session. It was very relaxing.
After you rinse, step into the pod, close the lid, and relax. I was really nervous upon entering the pod- I had floated in the Dead Sea in Israel a couple years ago, and all I could remember was it stinging something awful. They tell you not to shave before entering the Dead Sea, and stupid me had shaved the day before my flotation session. Fortunately, there was no stinging upon entering the flotation pod- maybe it was because they had added something to the water to make it more spa like? Either way, thank god that crisis was adverted.
Since I was in the evolution pod, I had the option to leave some relaxing spa music on, and to leave a low blue light on. I opted to turn them off, in order to get the full experience.
I have to admit. It was very hard for me to relax. I noticed that my head felt very heavy, so I placed my hands behind my head for support, but then noticed my back was arched in a way that didn’t allow for maximum comfort. I tried laying in savasana, but once again felt my neck starting to ache. (I noticed on my way out that there was a foam pool noodle, which I assume would have helped greatly in this situation. I wish I had known about it).
I ended up playing more than relaxing. I found myself slowly pushing from one wall to another, counting the seconds until I would hit the other wall. I found myself thinking about where I wanted to go to brunch. Eventually, I opened the pod to check the time (whoops) and noticed that only 30 minutes into my 90 minute float had passed. I closed the lid, thought “I can do this”, and lasted only about 10 more minutes. I opened the lid once again, sent a selfie to my boyfriend, and got out to shower.
After I left the pod room, I still had to wait for my dad to finish his session. I spoke with the owner about what “went wrong” and he indicated that since I am more type-A, it was definitely harder for me to turn my mind off, asked if I had drank any caffeine that morning (nope), and said that he knew I was done when he got the notification on his phone that I had uploaded photos to Yelp. I sat in the waiting room and colored in one of those adult coloring books (which to be honest, I felt more relaxed doing), and waited for my dad to finish up.
While Floating may not be for me, I think it’s definitely something that should be tried. It’s a very cool experience, something that’s unlike anything I’ve seen before, and you shouldn’t be scared of the sensory deprivation. My dad said that he loved it, he loved being left alone with his thoughts, and he really worked some things out.
On top of that, the facility at Flotation Philly is immaculate. It’s clean, it’s inviting, it’s comfortable, and the owner is incredibly friendly.