Fitness Friday

Want a More Mindful 2018? Try Floating in a Sensory Deprivation Pod

A new spa in Montrose is the latest to offer "floating" in Houston.

By Brittanie Shey January 5, 2018

Is meditation one of your New Year's resolutions? You might try a float session instead.

Healing Waters Float Spa in Montrose is the newest in a growing number of sensory deprivation spas popping up in Houston. The idea is simple: You climb into a pod filled with salt water, close the door, and relax. Or try to, at least.

Joseph Cyrus and Juan Carlos Mazorra, co-owners of Healing Waters, say their spa is special because it's eco-friendly and makes use of the same advanced water filtration system used by Mountain Valley Spring Water. Their pods are 9 feet by 5 feet; inside, each customer, or "floater," lays in 1,300 pounds of Epsom salt dissolved into about 300 gallons of water, making the water in each pod roughly 10 inches deep. The pod door can be closed or left open, and floaters have the choice of listening to soothing music or basking in silence. Soft lights inside the pod can be turned on or off.

Healing Waters' concept is that resting inside the pod—the average float lasts an hour—allows a person to remove all distractions and other sensory input, providing space to focus on breath, thoughts, and heartbeat.

"You become pure floating consciousness," Cyrus says.

Cyrus touts three main benefits of floating. The first: relaxation. Floating in body-temperature water in an enclosed pod cuts off external stimulations, which advocates say can result in reduced cortisol, a stress hormone.

The second is pain management. Though the effects of soaking in magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom salt, are debatable, the salt does increase the density of the water, making the floater feel weightless. Those with back pain or other soreness may find relief from not putting pressure on affected body parts.

The third benefit is rest. A 90-minute float is equivalent to one REM cycle, or a full night's rest, Cyrus says. Mazorra recommends coming to a float session after practicing yoga—what he calls a "flow and float."

"It's like an extra hour of savasana," Mazorra says.

Cyrus and Mazorra first met while working in the service industry in Houston—Mazorra was a former co-owner of Hughes Hangar—and soon discovered a shared love of meditation. They saw how popular sensory deprivation was becoming in cities around Europe and knew it was something they wanted to bring to Houston, Mazorra says.

After his first float, he adds, "I felt the most amazing mental cleanse. That feeling was so amazing we wanted to share it with everyone."

For those looking to try meditation, Cyrus says floating makes it easier to get into a calm frame of mind by alleviating distractions.

"Floating removes that master/guru relationship," he says. "You take away all these different belief systems. If you come into silence, your soul will speak to you. And it knows what's good for you."

Sessions at Healing Waters are $60 for 60 minutes. Want to know more about floating? Our Hala Dahar tried it in 2016.

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