Floatation therapy comes to T&T
Suspended, weightless, without sound, sight or touch, floating in a warm, watery solution.
Sounds like heaven?
Floatation therapy is still an adventurous concept for many but has become very popular in busy cities such as London, New York, and Toronto.
And now it's taking off in Trinidad and Tobago.
Floatation therapy, also known as floating, sensory deprivation, or R.E.S.T (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) involves lying in a floatation tank with 10 inches of water, containing 1000 pounds of Epsom salts.
The density of the salt solution allows anyone to float on the surface, virtually free of gravity. The solution is usually set to one’s body temperature so that there is no discernible difference between one’s body and the surrounding solution.
Clients must also shower before entering the tank, and as the solution is highly saline, the tank remains very hygienic. Although it is recommended that clients experience the Float tank without clothes, one can wear a swimsuit if needed.
Most importantly, some studies have shown that Floatation can bring positive benefits to both the body and mind.
Speaking to LoopTT, Hadeed, who enters the isolation tank regularly, says the practice benefits people of all ages and sizes, with special benefits for athletes as well as the elderly.
“One of the main causes of many types of illnesses is usually stress, and one thing the Float tank does is help people how to learn how to relax and get away from the stresses of everyday life.”
“It’s huge for the body to get that kind of rest, so it is a therapy or treatment that can be used for so many things, down to athletes’ physical training, rehabilitation, muscle recovery, meditation, all of it…the benefits to floatation therapy are infinite,” he said.
Athletes who Float
Hadeed also believes that floatation can also be an added benefit to the nation’s athletes.
Athletes and celebrities like Wayne Rooney, Steph Curry, Carl Lewis, Tom Brady, Elle Macpherson, Peter Gabriel, Michael Crichton and Susan Sarandon all regularly use Floatation therapy.
Studies have shown that floatation therapy reduces muscle soreness, reduces lactic acid levels in the body and aids in facilitated rest, improving athletes’ exposure to fatigue.
Hadeed thinks this therapy can be an added boost for local athletes.
“The reality is that you have to have the ability to focus and that’s what Floatation cultivates, that control under pressure. This is what our athletes need. It’s not something you do in the offseason, it’s something you do as a regular part of your training.”
“Steph Curry floats before every game because it gives him clarity of control that allows them to perform under pressure. It’s not just about physical training it’s about mental training as well,” he said.
A cure for anxiety?
In 2016, researchers from the Department of Psychology at Karlstad University in Sweden found that floatation was able to reduce anxiety for that study group over a four-month period, as well as reducing physical pain.
According to a feature by Time magazine, researchers have found that Floatation can produce the same effect in reducing anxiety as some traditional drugs.
“There’s a lot of research and positivity around floatation therapy in reducing things like anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks etc., but it doesn’t happen with just one float, which is why we recommend to people that if they really want to give it a chance, float at least three times, because the first one might not be so pleasant, but the second time might be completely different,” Hadeed said.
Floatation has been shown to also lower blood pressure while reducing stress, depression and much more.
The ultimate adventure – silence
For many, being alone with yourself might just be the most difficult thing to do. Modern living in the digital age means there is always sensory stimulation, from smartphones to television, radio, even a vacation is anything but.
For many people, meditating can be difficult just because there are so many other distractions, and the idea of floating for an hour and a half without any stimulation at all can seem quite daunting.
However Hadeed said people are gently familiarised with the process before going in.
“We try, before someone goes into the tank, to get them comfortable, but not give them too much of a preconception of what they should expect because every time is going to be different.”
“Sometimes you fall asleep and have amazing dreams, sometimes your mind wanders but your body is completely relaxed. It’s really powerful to look at your thoughts, and just see what comes up. For me, a lot of what happens in the tank, you don’t realise until you get out of the tank,” said.
“It’s really important for us, through meditation or floating, or any activity, to take time alone and begin to create a relationship with our own mind and our thoughts; I think it gives people an opportunity to do this. I usually tell people when they come in, that they take 90 minutes for the day and then that’s it, take the rest of the day for yourself if you can,” he said.
For many, the key to one’s first Floatation experience is simply to relax.
“You need to keep your mind open and for that reason we started to allow people to take baby steps, so if you need to leave the door open, leave the door open, if you need to leave the light on, go ahead. If you only want to go in for half an hour, then go in for half an hour.”
It is ironic, perhaps, that one’s biggest fear is one’s own mind.
“I think the reason why many people are afraid to try it because they’re living in this avoidance of things they don’t want to deal with. But if you don’t deal with it it’s just growing to grow, whereas if you stop and face up to it you can learn to understand it and overcome it,” Hadeed said.
Indeed, many experience a resurgence of stimuli from daily activities after a session. Colours seem brighter, sounds sharper, motions more detailed, almost as if the senses have been given a boost.
Mindfulness in a culture of chaos
Acclimatising from the frenzied pace of Trinbagonian life to the stillness of a floatation tank can be a challenge, but it is one Hadeed thinks is worth undertaking.
For him, floatation therapy is far from a gimmick or fad, but can be a real path toward mental relaxation, clarity, and a healthier way of life.
“Floating, like meditation and yoga, is a practice, this is really new to Trinidad, but this is not a one-time kind of thing. This is something people need to try and do regularly…there are so many physical, mental and spiritual benefits,” he said.
Indeed, Float’s clientele has been steadily growing and even includes medical practitioners who use the facility for stress relief.
Hadeed’s goal is to expand the number of Float centres throughout the country.
“Once we realise people are open to it and there is a market, we will expand and hopefully have Float centres throughout Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
Hadeed added that anyone can do float therapy, referring to a recent client who was as young as 16, and several older clients, who love the treatment which alleviates aches and pains.
While floating, Hadeed recommends simply breathing slowly and allowing the body to relax.
“Take long deep breaths, allow the body to relax, and enjoy it. There’s no doing, it’s just about learning how to be,” he said.
For more information on Floatation Therapy, view the documentary Float Nation.
Loop readers can also enjoy their first Float for the discounted rate of $225 - simply use the phrase "Step Inside" to claim your discount.
For more information, go to Float Trinidad on Facebook or call 351-9642.
For more information on One Yoga Trinidad and Tobago visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/oneyogatrinidadtobago