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Floating in the blue

If you’ve had a few stressful days since this Strange New World™️ of 2020 began and it really does feel like your shoulders have permanently shifted upwards to sit next to your ears with all the tension, I have something for you that could quite literally help to float your worries away.

Soak Floatation in Thornaby is a health spa with a difference. Floatation therapy has been proven to reduce stress, lower your heart rate, help to manage chronic pain, improve sleep and lots more. The floatation pods allow you to float, totally effortlessly, in 25cm of water that is saturated with hundreds of kilos of magnesium-rich Epsom salts…and they look amazing too!

From the moment I walked through the door, I could almost start to feel the tension of that day start to ease. The welcome area is really calming with an oil diffuser gently puffing away in the corner and is immaculately clean. After a brief introduction to all things floating and a friendly chat, there’s a short health waiver to read through and confirm by signing on the screen – after you’ve used the hand gel provided of course – before you move into the floatation rooms.

The pod obviously dominates the room but there’s also a lovely shower in the corner, with Faith in Nature products, and a small stool with a clean towel, bottle of water and your silicone ear plugs, as well as hooks on the wall to hang your clothes up. The whole process is explained in detail, including how to open and close the door of the pod yourself and then that’s it – you’re ready for your floating experience to begin!

After my shower, I picked up my float halo and into the pod I went. If you’re anything like me, the first thing you will think is, how on earth is that going to keep me afloat, but trust me, don’t be fooled, as soon as you step into the pod and lie yourself back you truly will just float up to the surface of the water – like magic! As the music started and the lights began to change, I realised I still had my glasses on – rookie error! But it didn’t impact on my float at all and to be honest, I was already so comfortable that I just decided to leave them.

As the pod began to get dark I really became aware of my breathing and my heartbeat and the absolute quiet and feeling of weightlessness truly did make me start to slow both of them down almost instantly. Those ragged breaths that you sometimes have after a stressy day – it won’t take long for them to disappear before you settle into deep, long breaths that feel so calming. There’s a description on the Soak Floatation website that talks about how your body can start to use your energy internally which can help to gently push your mind and body into relaxation to help it heal. This absolutely rang true for me – I could physically feel my shoulders start to drop and the tension moving down my arms, into my hands and out into the water.

I floated around, regularly changing position to see how it affected the floating sensation. A long stretch from the tips of my fingers down to my toes felt soooo good, as did laying like a starfish with my arms and legs spread wide; moving just my legs gave me the sensation of moving around in a slow arc just as my fingertips touched the sides; a gentle movement of my hips led to a gentle rolling feeling as the water made little lapping noises around me; I even tried a float on my front to see what that felt like – curious is my middle name, what can I say? The floating halo was so good to help with getting used to the float itself and giving in to total relaxation.

If you’re the kind of person who loves a nap I’m pretty sure that you would immediately fall asleep. I rarely sleep through the day and so I spent a lot of time with my thoughts, which was actually really lovely. I thought about writing a lot, about how much I enjoy pouring out what’s in my head and putting it down, whether that’s on to paper or a screen. I don’t even remember what else I thought about to be honest, my mind became as slow-moving and weightless as my body and so I just let whatever was going on in there ramble gently through.

As the lights started to come back on and the music played, I could hardly believe that an hour had gone by! I slowly made my way up to sitting, figured out what I was doing with the door and moved my way towards the shower. My skin felt amazing too – not overly dry as I had worried. My top tip would definitely be to wash your hair though – I have crazy big hair that is rarely controllable and I thought it would be just like being at the beach if I left the salt in it. Turns out that the volume of salt used REALLY gets into your hair and it made for some very crunchy curls – eep! So yep, definitely take the time to do that hair wash and there are hair drying facilities available too, if you don’t want to step out with wet hair.

Overall feelings? I absolutely loved it! I felt unbelievably relaxed when I came out and after a mental day at work, I truly did float away all that stress. At £45 for an hour (or 10% off if you’re an Independent Teesside card holder or NHS staff) it was incredibly reasonable and the care and attention to detail for the whole experience totally nailed it for me. I definitely plan to return and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

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