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Float Your Troubles Away

Float Your Troubles Away

Sometimes, we all need to hit the pause button on life and just float. ISO Spa, one of Ottawa’s only isolation tank floatation centers, can help you escape the stresses of the workaday world in a unique way.

ISO Spa owners, former university roommates and long time friends Mika Husband and Jasson Grant, have always been dreamed of ways that they could become business partners. Their wish came true over a year ago when Husband, a financial analyst, recently moved back to Ottawa from Alberta.

Husband had first tried floatation therapy while working a stressful job in Calgary. He found that the therapy helped him disconnect from his high-pressure job, and it also helped the nagging pain of his sore back. Noticing a lack of floatation pods in Ottawa, Husband approached Grant, a real estate agent, about opening a floatation center in the city. Grant was thrilled about the offer.

“He said to me, ‘now I got this idea, and everybody thinks it’s crazy.’ I said, ‘it’s perfect, I love it,’” Grant laughs.

ISO Spa pod photo courtesy of Samantha Lapierre

Floatation therapy sessions take place in a floatation pod, which can be best described as a large egg-shaped tank. The tank is filled with 1,000 liters of water, heated to body temperature and mixed with over 1,200 pounds of Epsom salts. The salt-water mix creates a buoyant and low-gravity environment, and allows its visitor to float on the surface of the water. The pod is completely devoid of sound, touch and sight. The outside world is left behind once you close the pod’s door.

Flotation therapy benefits both the mind and the body. The ambiance of the pod allows for the brain to reach Theta state: the euphoric state we reach just before we fall asleep. While on the go during the day, our brains run at 14-40 cycles per second. Theta state, however, allows our brain to reach somewhere between 3 and 8 cycles per second. In this state we can experience deep relaxation and meditation.

Floatation therapy also helps the body. Bodies become relaxed in the low-gravity environment created by the warm water and Epsom salt mixture. The floatation allows for increased blood circulation and deep muscle relaxation, while the Epsom salts alone are magnesium rich and help reduce inflammation, muscle and nerve function.

Husband says that floatation therapy has just caught on in Ontario. The therapy began in Europe, and centers can be found across British Columbia (the practice is especially popular in Vancouver), Alberta and Manitoba.

“We’re breaking new ground and really forming the market here in Ottawa,” Husband says. “It’s a really unique task of getting the word out there.”

Photo courtesy of Jasson Grant.

Husband and Grant were kind enough to offer me a taste of floating. Never one to shy away from new experiences, I happily agreed. Grant met me bright and early at their McLeod Street spa downtown. The duo acquired the space over a year ago, and they have promptly made it their own.

The reception area is chic, and the walls are lined with a local artist’s paintings.

Each pod’s room is painted with earthy colours and comfortably equipped with a shower, towels and toiletries. Bathrooms are near by, and a handy hair-drying room with a large mirror later proved to be extremely helpful.

Photo courtesy of Jasson Grant.

Each pod has an easily accessible light switch and emergency call button. Husband and Grant also provide a spray bottle of fresh water that can be used if salt water finds its way into your eyes, as well as a pool noodle to assist with getting comfortable with the floatation. I shower before starting my session to help my body adjust to the warmth of the water, and music begins to play through a speaker in the pod as my session begins.

The pod’s door can be left open during the session, but I chose to close it for the full effect. I can also choose to turn an ambient light on, although I decide to experience complete darkness. My body takes about ten minutes to adjust to the sensation of floating in a closed space and the salt makes my skin itch for a bit. As the music fades out, I am left in complete, quiet darkness.

Time flies while in the pod, and your fingers never prune. I do worry about my possible missed texts, calls and emails for a while, but that worry eventually fades into a meditative state. I eventually turn on the soft multi-coloured light for atmosphere as I drift around the pod. Once my session is over, beach noises begin to sound through the speaker. My muscles are relaxed and I notice that the salt has made my skin incredibly soft.

I remark to Grant and Husband that the session was like nothing I’ve done before. They tell me that my response is typical for most floatation first-timers. The sessions are accessible to everyone, and ISO offers float sessions that last 60 to 90 minutes, seven days a week.

“Being able to disconnect for an hour to an hour and a half is something we really don’t do too much of,” Grant says. “Everybody can do it.”

To find out more ISO Spa and floatation therapy,

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