Thai Massage recognizes 10 major Energy Channels, called the Sip Sen (or Sib Sen), in the Thai language officially referred to as the Sen Prathan Sib, which literally — word by word — translates as “Lines Primary Ten.”
But why only 10 primary Energy Lines, if there are at least 72,000, as is believed in Thailand?
A first answer would be that it’s simply recorded as such in the earliest scriptural evidence that mentions the existence of the Sip Sen Energy Lines. But that, of course, would be too easy.
Another approach would be to compare the number of principal Sen Lines with the number of major Nadis, that is, the principal Prana Energy Channels in Yoga.
As it is, depending on which classical Yoga texts you would consult, there are either 10 or 14 major Nadis. So, in our particular case we could say that the 10 main Sen Lines may have been derived from 10 main Nadis (when we consider that the Nadi system predates the Sen Lines system).
But even then the question remains. Why 10?
Sib Sen and the Ten Gates of the Body
Now, a closer study of the main Sen and main Nadis shows that the trajectories of each one of the ten main channels ends in a specific “opening” or “orifice” of the body. This relates directly to the concept of the Ten Gates of the Body (or Ten Doorways of the Body) as known in Indian spiritual philosophy, in Ayurveda, and in Yoga.
However, the ten-gates theory is sometimes also represented as the nine-gates or even fourteen-gates theory. But, let me explain this.
So, the nine gates, doorways, doors, or windows of the body are defined as: the left eye, right eye, left ear, right ear, left nostril, right nostril, the mouth, the anus (rectum and/or urethra), the genital openings (penis, vagina, and/or urethra).
The ten-gates theory adds the top of the head (the fontanel i.e. soft spot of the skull) to the nine gates in order to make a total of 10 gates. This tenth gate is also equated with the Sahasrara Crown Chakra or with the Brahmarandhra (“the door to God”).
The fourteen-gates theory adds another four openings to the previous ten orifices. That is, the tip of the fingers, the tip of the toes, the skin, and the navel. Mind, that sometimes, the tip of the fingers and those of the toes are considered one single gate.
When we then look at the ten major Sen Lines, we can observe the following:
- Sen Sumana ends in the mouth;
- Sen Ittha in the left nostril;
- Sen Pingkhala in the right nostril;
- Sen Kalathari goes to the tips of the fingers and to the tips of the toes;
- Sen Lawusang ends in the left ear;
- Sen Ulangka ends in the right ear;
- Sen Sahatsarangsi goes to the left eye;
- Sen Thawari goes to the right eye;
- Sen Nanthakrawat, with two distinct channels, ends in the excretion organs (one in the urethra and one in the anus);
- Sen Khitchanna, with two different channels depending on being male or female, ends in the genitals.
So, what we can conclude is that the Sib Sen have their termination points at the classical nine gates, where each of the ten Sen Lines goes to a different gate (doorway).
Additionally, the Sib Sen system includes terminations at all the far ends of the extremities of the body (tips of the fingers and tips of the toes) through Sen Kalathari (which makes for a total of ten gates), but no specific termination points through the skin or navel.
Yet, none of the Sib Sen explicitly covers the classical tenth gate as its ending point — the illustrious Crown of the Head (Sahasrara Chakra) — which in the Yoga Nadi system is the termination point of Sushumna Nadi.
An important note here is that the extension lines of Sen Sumana (not the main line) indeed do run over the Crown of the Head, which would make Sen Sumana more like Sushumna Nadi. We’ve written more in detail about this phenomenon in our post Sen Sumana, Sushumna and Saraswati Nadi.
Finally, to sum things up, we can say that the Sib Sen (the 10 Sen) cover 10 gates of the body (the classical 9 gates and in addition the extremities of the body), and amount to those 10 because of that. The background hereof is to be found in the concept of the 10 gates, doorways, and orifices in the Yoga Nadi system, which is of Indian Vedic origin.