Vital Life Energy (Qi, Ki, Lom Pran or Prana) and Energy Channel concepts play an important role in quite a number of massage modalities, notably those that originate in Asia.
Vital Life Energy or Life Force refers to “energy” circulating through our body. This energy doesn’t circulate randomly, but through well-defined Energy Channels.
This Life Energy is thought to be the key vital force, part of any living being, permeating everything and everyone, and it’s the primordial underlying principle in many eastern Traditional Medicine systems.
In Asia, it’s commonly agreed on that Life Energy is absorbed by human beings via the air we breathe in, the food we consume, and through light (the sun).
Without diving deeply in the theory and practices around Life Energy, the core idea is that blockages of the free flow of Life Energy through the body’s Energy Channels (canals or pathways) will cause health discomforts and illnesses. As such, most Asian traditional medicine practices focus on releasing hindrances and blockages in those channels.
Depending on the tradition, different names (and slightly different functions) are given to the Energy Channels. For instance, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the energy channels are called Meridians. In Indian Ayurveda Medicine the names of the channels are the Nadis, and in Thai Traditional Medicine the Sib Sen. Note that Energy Canals cannot be seen with the eye or proven by modern technology; they are considered to be invisible.
Along these energy pathways one finds energy distribution or transformation centers, in TCM called Dantian and in Ayurveda named Chakras. Additionally, one will find so-called acupressure points along these channels, which, depending on the Traditional Medicine system are considered reflexology points influencing body and organ systems, minor energy distribution centers, or “windows” between the physical and subtle body or between body and mind.
In many traditional systems, the energy channels are thought to start or converge around the navel, and as such much therapeutic work is done in that area also, using acupressure and other massage techniques.