Amidst the chaos that is Mumbai’s Pali Naka area is Liquid Sanctuary — the city’s first and only floating therapy centre. Apart from 1000 Petals in Bangalore, Liquid Sanctuary is the only other establishment offering the sensory deprivation experience in India. On reaching Liquid Sanctuary I am amused by the irony of the fact something that is said to be an extremely relaxing experience but is situated in one of the city’s busiest junctions. “The location was chosen very strategically. We wanted to prove just how relaxing floatation therapy is. If you can experience sensory deprivation in this noisy neighbourhood you can experience it anywhere. That’s how effective it is,” says Digant Joshi, who is one of the four partners behind Liquid Sanctuary, Mumbai. Joshi along with Puja Amin, Janvi Saraogi and Ronak Saraogi decided to bring Liquid Sanctuary to Bombay after recognising the need to create awareness about the importance of wellness in the perpetually hurried Mumbaikar’s life. Liquid Sanctuary, Mumbai, opened its doors to Mumbai in September 2018. The organisation was initially started in Delhi, and is the brainchild of Chirag Lilaramani.
“Indians are still realising the importance of de-stressing and focusing on wellness, it is only when you’re introduced to it and experience the benefits first-hand is when you actively start working towards a healthier lifestyle. That is exactly what we as an organisation are trying to do — help people reach that point of realisation,” says Joshi.
Floating is also called Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) and has been practised since as far back as the 1950s. Floating helps eliminate any gravitational pull on your body, subsequently relaxing your muscles and joints. The high concentration of Epsom salts (in scientific terms referred to as magnesium sulphate) and Dead Sea salts help you float with ease, thereby, elongating your spine. “One hour of floating is equivalent to four hours of sleep. Not only does it relax you, but also increases endorphin and dopamine levels in your body, which in turn makes you calm and happy,” explains Joshi, who can float up to three hours at a stretch. “It’s extremely easy to get used to it. It’s almost addictive. You reach this meditative state and walk out feeling completely rejuvenated,” he adds.
Floating is said to positively affect both the mental and physical well-being of an individual. Floating is said to be very beneficial for those suffering from PTSD, ADD, ADHD, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis and the list goes on. It is also very popular among sportspeople and is even used by the American and Australian Olympic teams. Floating is also said to be extremely relaxing for pregnant women, however, is not recommended in the first trimester. Similarly, those suffering from a migraine and sinus problems should consult experts before trying the therapy out.
“You don’t know how relaxing it is till you try it,” says Joshi. So I do. I am directed to a room where floor is lined with faux grass. “Not everyone in Mumbai owns a farmhouse or has the time to walk barefoot on grass. It’s something very simple but helps one feel so much better,” says Joshi in response to my palpable amusement. After I look around and take in the high ceiling and the wooden-panelled walls, I am given a series of very precise instructions. “Step one is to take a cold shower. Shampoo your hair, rinse your body and rid yourself of any possible dirt. After that tie your hair up and wipe your face, making sure it’s completely dry — avoids the chance of the salty water droplets in the tub from going into your eyes and causing irritation. It is also imperative for you to put in earplugs before your shower. Once you’re done with all this, just slip into the water and relax,” patiently explains Joshi. Right before he walks out, he points a laser at my wrist and presses a button. Jumping back is my reflex action to a laser being pointed at me. “Don’t worry, this measures your body temperature and helps us maintain the temperature of the water as well as of the room,” says Joshi.
After obediently following all the instructions I am given, I step into the lukewarm water. I lay back and try to float, except I don’t really need to try. The zero gravity created by the salts automatically makes my body float. Despite being a swimmer, it takes me a while to let go of my neck completely. For all those not completely comfortable with water, Liquid Sanctuary has the option of using a halo, which is a doughnut-shaped floating pillow. The print on the ceiling makes it seem like you are lying on the forest floor looking up at trees. The lights and music are on for the first few minutes, the lights are eventually turned off and the music continues for about 20 more minutes. After that, you’re left to float in complete darkness and silence. For all those scared of the dark, you do have the option of turning the light on. “Can you remember the last time you weren’t staring at a screen for an entire hour or were in complete silence? It is impossible in today’s world which is driven by technology. There is always a hum in the background or of someone honking in the distance. It’s close to impossible to be in an environment that is completely dark and devoid of sound for an hour straight,” Joshi said while initially acquainting me with the process.
The floating session lasts for a total of 60 minutes. Zero gravity is what makes it the most interesting for me. Every time I breathe in I can feel my body rise in a manner that almost feels like I am levitating, and the opposite happens when I breathe out — it feels like the water is closing in on me, but in a manner that is comforting as opposed to being scary. Also, while floating you can feel your muscles relax, it is extremely easy to single out your stress points. “Most people tense up their shoulders and neck when they are in a stressful situation. When you’re floating, your body is positioned in a manner that helps elongate your back and relieve all that pent-up stress. Your back will feel much lighter on stepping out. That is why floating is extremely popular among working professionals who spend most of their days slouching over their laptops,” later explained Joshi.
The great thing about Liquid Sanctuary, Mumbai is that it offers its services 24 hours a day, all you need to do is book an appointment and show up. Liquid Sanctuary is also coupled with Wellness Sanctuary that offers yoga classes. They also offer something called Floga, which lets you enjoy one hour of yoga, followed by an hour of floating to help relax your muscles. You can also gift people Liquid Sanctuary gift cards. “What better gift than giving someone the opportunity to better their health,” says Joshi.
Liquid Sanctuary also helps promote local artists. “All the artwork on our walls is for sale. They are all made by lesser know but extremely talented local artists. 70 percent of the proceeds go to the artists and the remaining 30 percent are given to various animal charities,” explains Joshi.
“You know how you turn your computer off when it hangs and plug it in again a while later and it functions perfectly? That’s what you need to do with your body and mind too sometimes,” signs off Joshi.
Visit the Liquid Sanctuary website to book an appointment and to know more about floatation therapy.
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