Are you a floater?
Back to the womb: a spell in a darkened floatation tank filled with warm water must be the ultimate relaxation therapy.
I am ! Floating in a sound-proofed, darkened tank of water relaxes the body but more importantly, it’s said to help clear and relax the mind. Don’t know about you but my mind is in urgent need of relaxation. I decided to take the long soak in a warm bath up to the next level and try out the floatation tank at the Buff Urban Day Spa in Taunton, winner of the Best Day Spa in this year’s Muddy Awards.
I did feel slightly apprehensive, as I slipped out of my muddy stilettos and into a pair of towelling mules and a big fluffy robe in the changing room (there are separate rooms for men and women). Would it feel claustrophobic? Would I sink if I fell asleep? And could I get out if I didn’t enjoy it?!
After a shower, in the words of Slinky Malinki, I pulled on the handle and opened the door and gingerly stepped inside. The tank was quite small, a bit bigger than a single bed, with about a foot of water kept at body temperature. This means that you can’t feel where your skin ends and the water begins. The water contains high concentrations of Epsom salts which, like the salty Dead Sea, keeps your entire body, including your head, afloat, even if you fall asleep. Don’t get any of the water into your mouth *yeuch * or rub your eyes *ouch*. There are ear plugs and a neck cushion if you want them.
There’s a small light which gives a blue glow to the tank, with a button on the wall so you can turn the light on or off whenever you like. You don’t have to float in complete darkness, although the point of being in a floatation tank is to remove sensory distractions, so to benefit fully you probably should. I started by leaving the door ajar and pulled it closed when I felt comfortable – I stayed in control.
Initially, it felt odd, bobbing in the water with my arms and legs and head floating out like a Michelin man and occasionally bumping into the sides. It took a few minutes to give into the experience but once I did, the cocooning warm water, the gentle ambient music and sounds of waves on a beach (or was I imaging that?), helped me become more and more relaxed. I could feel my heartbeat slow down. Each breath became longer and deeper until I was no longer sure whether I was awake or asleep. After a time – just how much time I have no idea – the music faded into a silence broken by an occasional drip of water. It was like floating in a dreamy, subterranean lake.
Eventually, a tiny sound alerted me that it was almost time to leave the womb. I reluctantly came back into the real world, feeling a bit sleepy and in need of a long glass of water, which I had in one of the relaxation areas.
Buff recommended a massage after a floatation sesssion, so I followed Carly into one of the treatment rooms for an expert pummel, tailored to personal taste (medium hard since you’re asking) and with a choice of different ESPA oils. The combination was a good one; with both body and mind given a treat, I slept well that night and refreshed and ready to go the next morning (which I don’t always).
As well as the floatation tank, the spa has areas and treatment rooms dedicated to each aspect of hair and beauty care from head to toe
– including this very impressive Vichy wet room:
You can come in for a trim, or book a treatment, have lunch in the relaxation lounge at the top of the building – there’s even a hot tub on a little roof terrace.
And cost? Well, the floatation tank session: 30 minutes £25, 60 mins £40. Deep massage: 60 minutes £50; 30 minutes £30.
Buff Urban Day Spa, 22-24 Station Road, Taunton TA1 1NL. Tel 01823 257445. buffdayspa.co.uk