We tend to keep our neck muscles tight the first few times we float. Even as you learn to relax all the other muscles throughout your body, the brain still unconsciously keeps your neck muscles strained. Afterall, your brain knows that letting your head dip underwater is unsafe, it’s a survival mechanism. Throughout humanity this has almost always been true. With very little exception, the head historically has never been supported by a liquid. Even if you completely understand that your head will float, and completely trust the water you are floating in, it can still take a few floats for your instinctual brain to catch up and become accustomed to the sensation of bobbing on a body of water. This is why the neck pillow is an instrumental part of person’s first few floats.
You can find the neck pillows we use by clicking here
Early on while Sandra and I were first starting a float center, we found that we weren’t interested in small neck pillows that simply provide support at the base of the skull. They would pop out from underneath you too often, and more often than not, customers will spend more time thinking about the pillow than simply relaxing and letting go. We both agreed that head support should be something you place beneath you and forget about, and a standard inflatable travel neck pillow does the trick perfectly. They support themselves enough that they stay in position and will never slip out from under you.
Sandra also found that the best way to wear a neck pillow was not the standard way you would during a car ride. Instead, she found that if you flipped it so that the “C” shape of the pillow cradles the base of your skull instead of wrapping around your neck, it fully supports your entire head comfortably.
Almost every neck pillow available for purchase has a slight fuzz to it that gives it a fabric like feel to the synthetic plastic. While that might be nice for a nap on an airplane, it’s really unnecessary for floating. In fact, when it comes to washing neck pillows in between floats, that fuzz really hangs on to salt and can make even thoroughly rinsed pillows appear salty to customers.
The pillow that we have found to be the best comes with a slight fuzz on the surface, but after one or two washings that surface becomes very smooth. They clean very easily by rinsing in water, and are ready for use immediately. You can find them on Amazon here.
As always, if anyone has a different idea on what makes a great neck pillow, please comment below. If you let us know about a pillow that we end up liking more, we’ll update this page.
as always, love reading your blog. wont the use of a pillow detract away from the sensory deprivation? is this not the reason why we recommend people float in the nude, as bathing costumes on skin will have the same effect?
From my experience at the Body Mind Float center in Rochester, NY (where I enjoyed m,y first float) apperantly some people have a hard time relaxing their neck muscles, almost as if their body is refusing to believe that it can float all on its own. So the pillow is helpful for some as a support, almost a reminder to the brain that it’s not necessary to utilize the neck muscles to prevent drowning. On that note, I found the ear plugs to cause too much sensory distraction and swiftly abandoned them.
Does anyone else think the water is really loud? I felt like I could hear constant turbulation in the water, like I was hearing the convection of the water molecules or something, thoughts?
Dylan Schmidt says
I completely agree with Jamie. It can be very difficult for your brain to let go of its instinct to keep your head out of water. It usually takes a few floats before it’s not needed. Other times, it’s simply needed during the first portion of a persons float as their brain adjusts to the new environment.
I always tell people using a neck pillow isn’t cheating the experience, particularly if you aren’t relaxing in the first place. If you are keeping your muscles tense you won’t be able to ‘let go’ during your float. By using a neck pillow you are assisting yourself to get to that ‘letting go’ state.
Just ordered one, super cheap hey?! Thank you!
Have you had problems with air leaking? The reviews on Amazon for that neck rest are enough to make me cautious. Thoughts?
Dylan Schmidt says
Yes, these pillows last a few months (probably between 3-9) and then start leaking air. If you over-fill them with air, they are definitely more likely to leak. There are more durable pillows out there, but they are very expensive. If you ever find one that is a good compromise, please let me know!
Hey Dylan, the pillows you recommended are no longer available on Amazon. Have you found a good replacement?
Dylan Schmidt says
Hi there! These are a little chincy, so buy extras. Also don’t overfill these, it will cause leaks faster. I really like them though!
Lisa Ireland says
Do these pillows keep your ears out of the water? I have a lady that loves the float but can’t stand water in her ears. She says she can’t get a good seal at all with ear plugs either.