On New Year's Eve I went for my first floatation session at Floatworks, London Bridge. At 29 weeks pregnant the prospect of an hour's relaxation and weightlessness held incredible appeal especially after the usual hectic run up to Christmas and a week with a heavy cold.
As the time for the session approached my fears of claustrophobia or drowning grew! Both turned out to be entirely unnecessary.
On arrival at Floatworks' HQ, located in the basement of a relatively nondescript building off Southwark Street in London, I received a friendly welcome and was shown the flotation suite.
Each tank is in a private room with a shower and chair and it was clear that I could control the environment completely choosing whether to have the lid of the tank open or closed and to keep the light on or not.
The sensation of floating and being weightless was fabulous. I decided to go for the “full experience” and opted to close the lid and turn the light off. It was a strange feeling but not unpleasant, music played for ten minutes and shortly after that I fell asleep.
I woke with a start having dozed off for 20 odd minutes and felt extremely nauseous. I think I dreamt I'd gone into labour – and as a result I splashed salt water in my eyes as I woke up. Disorientated, with stinging eyes, I felt so sick that I had to climb right out of the tank and sit with my head between my legs on the chair.
After a while I got back into the tank and gave it another go but this time with the lid up and the light on. The experience was far better and I fell asleep a second time but woke feeling sick again, along with stomach pains. At this point I decided to call it a day and got out of the tank about five minutes before the session finished and had a shower.
As I left Floatworks I told the women on reception that I felt dreadful. They said this was a common experience for first-timers but that that it rarely happens the second time around. After a swift cab ride home I went straight to bed and slept like a baby for over two hours.
When I woke up I felt deliciously relaxed, if rather spacey, and ready for a fabulous New Year's Eve party with friends. In fact, we enjoyed the evening so much that Jon, our three year-old and I stayed until 1.45am feeling great.
Fingers crossed that the next session brings relaxation without any unwanted side-effects; I'll let you know how it goes next month.
Floating costs £40 per session (+ £1 for a towel) but there are various packages and gift vouchers available. For maximum benefit three sessions are recommended.
Alex went to The Floatworks Ltd, I Thrale Street SE1 9HW 020 7357 0111, www.floatworks.com
For details of a centre near you visit www.floatationtankassociation.net/