New year, new you
Time to get your mind and body back in gear after Christmas. Zaineb Al Hassani kicks off our revitalising special with a visit to a flotation tank
‘I usually take sessions twice a month,’ says an amiable Roger Tyler, co-owner of Glasgow’s Willow Trading Rooms, and home to Glasgow’s only flotation tank.
‘Flotation tanks,’ he explains, ‘provide a unique experience for each person, the feeling of utter isolation and weightlessness is something that cannot be explained.’
First introduced in 1954, the tanks have evolved from the first rudimentary sessions – where participants would don a highly uncomfortable mask and allow themselves to be almost fully submerged in water – to tanks like the one in Willow Trading Rooms, which is actually an 8ft by 4ft wide room, standing 7ft high, and filled with ten inches of salt loaded water. Hailed for their therapeutic qualities (Roger tells me it’s the equivalent of four hours sleep), I was driven by curiosity, plus a need to catch up on some much needed shut-eye, to venture into the unknown.
I’m shown downstairs into a small room, where visitors get changed and shower before their session. Two minutes later, and in my birthday suit (which I would recommend to anyone above wearing a swimsuit) I entered the room with slight trepidation, something almost certainly to do with my slight misgivings – OK, be honest – absolute loathing, of total darkness.
I needn’t have worried, though. From the moment I got inside I was greeted by relaxing music, which is played for the first ten minutes then starts up again to signal the end of the session, which laid my mind to rest. Plus, thanks to one tonne of epsom salts in the water, I floated the minute I lay down.
Yes, the first quarter of an hour was pretty odd, especially when I had to remind myself to relax my muscles (no, I wasn’t going to go under or float away) but once I’d disengaged from these thoughts, it was very relaxing. The absence of sound was something blissful that I, like so many of us nowadays, don’t often appreciate.
The sessions are not for everyone, though, and even if you’re tempted, you should be in the right frame of mind to take one. ‘We had one girl come for a session,’ says Roger, ‘then have to leave almost immediately because she felt there was a shark in the tank. On the other hand, a gentlemen who was in here not long ago told us he spent the entire hour thinking about a great pub lunch he’d had some ten years ago. You really can’t describe the feeling.’
Willow Trading Rooms, 715 Great Western Rd, Glasgow. firstname.lastname@example.org, 0141 339 6446.
Edinburgh Floatarium, 29 North West Circus Place, Edinburgh, 0131 225 3350
Willow Trading sessions are £30, or book three for £60. Check for occasional 2-for-1 offers. Edinburgh Floatarium is £30 for a 1hr session, or book 3 sessions for £75, 10 for £230.
What you need
Just yourself. Towels, shampoo and earplugs are provided.