What is floating like?

First, the physical basics:

You enter a pool, pod, tank, or cabin, filled with about 25 cm (10″) of warm water, heated to the temperature of your skin. Into this water is dissolved about 400 kg (900 lbs) of pure MgSO4, or Epsom Salts. The highly saline water allows you to float effortlessly on the surface, much like a cork floats on water. The effect is striking – with your body fully supported and unconstrained by gravity, the tendons, muscles, and ligaments stretch out and the spine lengthens. With the body completely relaxed, the mind follows.

We begin our floats at Hälsa with 10 minutes of soft music, allowing you to slowly relax and adjust to this unique environment. Slowly, the music will fade out and you will be floating in true silence. If you choose, you can also turn off the lights so that all your senses are now totally free from external stimulation – quite wonderful!

As your mind begins to adapt to this new sensation, you may notice your thoughts wandering. This is a wonderful time to become present with your breath, noticing the movement of the mind while immersed in stillness and silence. Once you begin to relax, it is likely you will drift in and out of theta brainwave state, that beautiful relaxing twilight state between wake and sleep. While in theta, you might see flashes of color, hear drums or music, and remember things you had thought you had long forgotten. Theta is an expansive, meditative state, where you can tap into your creativity, your intuition.

You will likely pass in and out of the dream-like theta state. Some people become so relaxed they fall asleep. Alternatively, you may feel quite present and aware of your surroundings for the whole float. This is also normal. Don’t feel you aren’t doing it right and need to get out, just try to relax into the experience.  Spending some quiet time alone without distraction is a great way to work through your thoughts and emotions, and if you can stay with it, you will find yourself becoming stronger, clearer, at peace.

Before you know it, the music will start again to cue you that your float journey is over for the day. It is time to shower off the salt, get dressed, relax and have a cup in the tea in the lounge, and go about your day with renewed strength.

Why float?

Floating is extremely beneficial for both mind and body and has many positive effects. First and foremost, the process of floating is extremely relaxing. Some of the many numerous benefits of floating include: reducing physical pain, calming stress, helping insomnia, soothing depression and anxiety, strengthening mental focus, while enhancing insight, intuition, and creativity.

How should I prepare for my float?

Here are a few things we suggest to help you start your float on the best possible terms.

1) If this is your first visit, please come to Hälsa at least 15 minutes before your appointment time so we can take care of some paperwork and answer any questions you might have. Otherwise, please arrive at least 5-10 minutes before your appointment to ensure your float starts on time and that you begin your float in a relaxed state.

2) Don’t eat right before your appointment. A light snack a couple of hours before your float will ensure a rumbling tummy doesn’t distract.

3) If possible, avoid caffeine before floating. Your mind and body will relax quicker and it will be easier to get into the float zone.

4) Please avoid shaving/waxing at least 24 hrs before you float. Because the water is very salty, a close shave may sting and be uncomfortable.

5) Relax! This is time just for you, and special chance to enjoy this very unique experience in whatever way you’d like.

What if I can’t swim? Can I drown if I fall asleep in the float pod?

The salt-saturated water makes it effortlessly easy to float and with less than a foot of water in the tub, you’ll be comfortable sitting up if need be. Swimming is not a prerequisite to float.

And don’t worry, you can safely fall asleep during your float – people often do! Because of the buoyancy of the water, there is no danger if you do fall asleep as your mouth and nose will naturally stay well above the water line, and there’s nothing like the taste of bitter Epsom salt water to shoot you awake.

What if I’m claustrophobic?

The first thing to keep in mind is that you’re always in control! You can get out of your float at anytime and can open the door or keep the lights on if you so choose.

If you have any concerns about feeling claustrophobic, we suggest that for your first float you book one of our double-sized Ocean Float Rooms. With a 7 foot high ceiling and a cabin that is almost 6 feet wide by 8 feet long, our Ocean Rooms are one of the most open and spacious float environments available. The oversized rooms allow most people to easily relax into the experience, and before long they find themselves floating peacefully, their initial hesitations forgotten.

Will my skin wrinkle, will the salt hurt my skin?

Epsom salt is wonderful for the skin – you’ll leave the tank feeling soft and silky, and you won’t have any wrinkling.

Can I float if I’m pregnant?

Absolutely, though we do suggest your check with your health care provider during the first and third trimesters. The sense of weightlessness can provide a tremendous relief for the body and you’ll be floating just like your baby – what a great way to bond!

Do I have to stay in the whole time?

Not at all! You are free to get out at any time. While it is totally normal to sometimes feel bored or restless when settling into a float, we do suggest you try to push through these feelings as they tend to pass as you move deeper into your float.

Can more than one person float at a time?

While the Ocean rooms are “double sized”, we limit them to just one person. We feel that floating is very personal and having another person there (no matter how close you are) takes away from the experience.

Should anyone NOT float?

Anyone under the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering drugs.

Epileptics that do not have their seizures under control.

If you are in the first trimester or being treated for a medical condition, please consult your doctor.

We also recommend that anyone under the care of a physician for severe psychological or emotional issues consult their healthcare provider before floating.

If you have open sores or wounds, you cannot float until they’re healed. This includes recent tattoos.

Please also wait 7 days after having your hair coloured before floating.

If you have any other questions or concerns about floating and your health, please contact your primary healthcare provider and have them get in touch with us with any questions.

What do I wear? What should I bring?

When you arrive at the spa and sign in at reception, you will be given a pair of slippers to wear while enjoying the spa facilities. As you’ll be in your own private room, most people choose to float in the nude, but if you’d prefer, please bring a bathing suit to wear during your float. We provide towels and wonderful botanically-infused bodywash, shampoo, and conditioner. If you wear contact lenses, please bring a case and solution.

Blowdryers, lotions, and other amenities to prepare you for the outside world are available post treatment in our amenities lounge, but please bring along your favorite brush or comb and any other personal items which will make you feel more at home.

We do ask you to remove all your makeup, so please prepare accordingly.

What is the difference between the Ocean Float Room and the Genesis Float Pod?

Both offer state-of-art features and great floats but differ a bit in how they deliver. The Ocean rooms are very spacious at over 7’ tall, 6’ wide and 8’ long. This allows lots of room to stretch out, perhaps even practicing some yoga poses or fully stretching your limbs. With such an expansive float space, it is easy to become conscious of the vastness of the universe, encouraging you to contemplate the meaning of life and your place within it. The Genesis pods are more cocoon-like, taking a more introspective posture, the pod prompts you to retreat inwards and enjoy some deeply reflective alone time.

How is the water cleaned?

Cleanliness is of utmost importance and so we utilize a sophisticated, 4-step treatment process between every client to ensure our water is always pristine.

At the end of your 90 minute float, music will slowly fade in to let you know that your float journey has come to an end. Music will play for a few minutes while you exit the tank and then when the music stops the filtration cycle begins. During the filtration cycle, the water is pumped out of the tank and passes through a 1 micron filter (25 times smaller than a standard pool filter) before being treated with ozone and ultraviolet light, a powerful oxidizing combination. Our powerful pump systems repeat this process a minimum of 3 full cycles in 20 minutes, completely turning over the water in the cabin/pod between each guest and ensuring the water is crystal clean for each and every float. We do also keep a low residual level of chlorine to remain in compliance with Vancouver Coastal Health.

During the 20 minute filtration cycle, your float attendant will be preparing the room for your arrival. If you feel they have missed anything, please do not hesitate to speak up and let a staff member know your concerns. We want your experience to be as comfortable as possible!

Can I float if I’m on my period?

Yes, just use a tampon or menstrual cup as you’d do for swimming in a public pool.

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