March 30, 2011

Props for Home Practice

Posted in An Official Welcome to My Practice, Anatomy, Choices, Ergonomics, Thai Yoga Massage, Uncategorized, Yoga at 8:30 pm by SuzanneMAndrew


So many clients ask about how & where to buy the props we use in Thai Yoga Massage sessions so they can practice at home.  Here is a list of all the props I currently use in our Thai Yoga Massage sessions.  This list includes:  the props, how each is used in your sessions, sources to purchase each, free alternatives.

1., 2. & 3.  Yoga Mat, Block, Strap

Use a mat to establish a ‘slip free’ space for your practice.  Alternately, use a towel or blanket. Blocks can be used in many ways; support under the shoulders when laying face down, between the shoulder blades to open the pecs, to lengthen the arms in standing postures, to support the sitting bones in seated postures.  A stack of books can often substitute.  Before blocks were commonly available, we used to take a couple of old phone books, duct table them together and make a block. (evidently I learned to use props at the redneck yoga school).  Finally straps are used to lengthen arm reach, keeping better alignment in the body in postures like seated forward bend, cowface arms and reclining triangle.  Use any old robe tie, long scarf or men’s tie as an alternative.

4. Pool Floaties – in Florida, these are available at Publix or CVS.   Here’s the Amazon version:

Custom cut to fit the length of your back; used in corpse pose, reclining mountain, etc.  along the length of the spine to open the chest, or under the shoulder blades to open the diaphragm.   If customizing, measure from the top of your sacrum to C7, cut the floatie to this length.   A free alternative is an empty plastic water bottle, or any cylinder about 3 inches in diameter.

5. Light free weights – a 2-3 pound weight can be used in hundreds of ways.  I like the weight band design instead of the bar bell shape, it stays in place easier.

Use to extend stretches, especially in reclining mountain, twists or child’s pose.  Free alternative is to fill up and tie off an old sock with 2-3 pounds of sand.

6.  Balance Ball – again from Amazon be sure to buy the correct size for your height; 65 cm works for most people.

Laying back over a balance ball for 3-5 minutes while focusing on deep breathing should be part of the daily routine for everyone who works at a desk all day, drives for a living or holds a baby all day.

7.  PT Ball –  from the Physical Therapy products catalog  I’ve tried a few others over the years, and none seem to be as firm as the ones from OPTP.  (bonus, this is the only prop on our list whose official description includes the word ‘protuberances’!)

Used on trigger points; most often in the glutes, front of the quads, along the shoulder blades or along the neck; the pt balls are a wonderful way to release knots on your own.  Lay on the ball for a few minutes while relaxing, and the knot will probably vanish. (bonus, add a warm pack to the opposite muscle and ‘melt’ the entire area)   Alternately, you can use tennis and golf balls.

8.   Foam Rollers – also from OPTP,

Used to roll out chronically tight muscles and connective tissue; piriformis/glutes, quads and hamstrings all respond well to foam rolling.  For free, use an unopened can of coffee or a rolling pin.

9. Back bender – this simple, inexpensive back stretcher from Amazon will do most of what a much more expensive back-bending device will do.

Used to relieve the effects of too much sitting, hunching forward and poor posture.  Alternatives include pillows or a combination of pillows and the pool floaties from above.

10.  Hot Packs –  again from Amazon, or locally available in the larger Publix stores.

Used to heat areas of the body; releasing tension, stretching muscles, opening tissues.  A cheap alternative is to fill an old sock with rice.

11.   Massage Table – massage tables are one of those items you can current choose to spend any amount on, from $50 to $5,000.  If you’re just going to use one around the house for an occaisional massage or as a prop for your practice; here’s an inexpensive and portable choice, again from Amazon. For restorative stretching, the psoas stretch I teach requires a broad, flat surface you can recline on while offering at least 2 feet of clearance from the floor.  Other restorative postures to practice with the table include  back bending off the table, gravity twists, lat stretches and forward folds.

Other items we talk about but don’t currently use in your Thai Yoga Massage sessions:

Lumbar Support Pillows for driving:

Shoulderstand Device for traction therapy on the neck and shoulders while inverting:

Inversion Sling for traction therapy along the entire spine: (warning, the sling is more difficult to use than the inversion table)

Inversion Table for traction therapy along the entire spine:  – Every body should invert every day!  Seriously, for almost all humans, spending some time inverted on a daily basis will help all your body systems work more efficiently and effectively.

Adjustable Height Desk: if you’re a desk jockey; one of the best strategies for minimizing impact on your body is to vary the height of your workspace throughout the day.

Balance Ball Chair if you spend hours sitting at a desk, this type of chair will help build core stability while sitting.

Kneeling Chair This is the desk chair I use, and I highly recommend it for anyone without knee problems.

Cervical Support Pillow: most side sleepers would benefit from a special pillow designed to support the neck while sleeping.  This is a great one:

Extending the benefits of your Thai Yoga Massage sessions by doing a few poses at home can be a very powerful way to progress in your practice.  Life can be stressful; so build yourself the toolbox of techniques and practices to undo the stress, tension and aggravation of daily life.  Using props to practice some Thai Yoga Massage poses at home can help you meet all your health and wellness goals.

As always, I can’t recommend you  begin or expand your physical activities without consulting your doctor.

If there are any props listed here that we’ve never used together and you’d like to try, be sure to let me know to work it into your next session.  If you have any questions or suggestions of props you already use in your own practice that I can share with others; please let me know.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master and Anatomy Geek.   Contact her directly at: 727-641-6941 or To learn more about Thai Yoga Massage, or the other healing modalities Suzanne offers, visit:


February 23, 2011

Welcome to My Practice

Posted in An Official Welcome to My Practice at 5:18 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Thank you for finding me and Try Thai Yoga Massage, I hope we have a long and beneficial working relationship.

Most people find me and continue to practice Thai Yoga Massage (including energy therapy, yoga, massage, etc.) because they are working on significant change in their lives; whether it is rehabbing from an injury or chronic condition, improving general physical wellness, stress management, quieting the mind and stilling anxiety; my clients find that my customized style of yoga, massage, energywork and other healing practices adapts to help them meet their goals.

To prepare for every session with me:

*Please wear comfortable, moveable clothing; what you wear to the gym or yoga class is perfect

*Drink several extra glasses of water the day of and the day after your massage session

*If possible, allow about 2 hours after your last major meal
You’re welcome to change clothes here.  Please plan on leaving phones and computers turned off when you’re in session.  You can bring a friend (or even your calm dog) with you to wait during your session; but no children, please.  Plan on your sessions with me being an escape from all the demands of your daily life; as much as possible, prepare to turn off the outside world while you’re here.

My official business hours are Wednesday thru Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.  I don’t answer calls when in session; so trying to reach me via phone can require several attempts back and forth.  You may find it easier to work with me via email, text messages or facebook.   About half of my clients have standing appointment times; making rescheduling easy.  The majority of the rest of my clients reschedule at the end of their session; and a few reschedule when they can fit in a session.

As of Spring 2011, my practice is quite full, and scheduling has become a challenge.  I’m committed to doing my best to schedule my long-term clients into their preferred times, and reschedule them when needed.  I’m finding it necessary to delay adding new clients some weeks, and also keeping a waiting list at times.  Just a heads up; I’ll always do my best to fit everyone in, but do give preference  to my longest-term, most loyal clients.

Payment forms accepted are cash, check and credit card.  I prefer cash and checks (no processing fees); but can accept a credit card in person, or email you a paypal invoice if you need written records for insurance or FSA/HSA.  I do not direct bill insurance companies.

I always have gift certificates available for purchase.  You can buy them when you’re in to see me, or I’m happy to mail them out to your lucky recipients.

I write a blog answering many of the questions that come up during our sessions together.  I’m working on cataloging the most common advice and observations I share with all my clients, so they are easily accessible for everyone.  Please visit my Thai Yoga Massage blog at:

Lastly, I have a big network of professionals I refer out to; if it seems like our work isn’t getting you the results you seek, or if you’d like to add on some other practices, healing modalities, etc. to your path; ask me.  More than like I know someone who does that!

It is truly an honor to do this work, and I look forward to accompanying you on part of your journey to vibrant health and wellness!



Suzanne Andrew can be reached directly at 727-641-6941 or