The Theoretical Foundation of Massage in Thailand

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Published | Updated March 1, 2019
The Theoretical Foundation of Massage in Thailand
IMAGE BY HELISSA GRUNDEMANN

The theoretical foundation of massage, energy- and bodywork in Thailand is based on the idea of invisible energy lines in the human body. Ten of these lines (meridians, channels, or pathways) have special importance in Traditional Thai massage—the so-called Ten Sen or Sib Sen.

The roots of this theory lie in (Indian) Yoga philosophy. The concepts of Yoga state that life energy (in Yoga called Prana) is taken in from the air we breathe and from the food we consume, which is subsequently distributed through a network of energy lines or channels, called the Prana Nadis. In this way the human body is supplied with vital life-energy.

The direct relationship with Indian Yoga concepts is obvious when we look at the terminology for the energy lines the Thai people use, with many words and designations coming from Sanskrit, the ancient language of India.

For instance, the Sen (Energy lines) Sen Sumana, Sen Ittha and Sen Pingkhala are linguistically very close to the naming of the Indian Prana lines Sushumna Nadi, Ida Nadi and Pingala Nadi. And moreover, these three primary Thai Sen Lines also follow a trajectory quite similar to the corresponding Indian Nadis.

Nevertheless, the energy lines cannot be verified anatomically or otherwise scientifically. They form a second ‘etheric’ layer or extra body next to the physical body. This invisible body, called Pranamaya Kosha or ‘energy body,’ consists of a huge amount of energy lines, which is claimed to be 72,000.

Most likely the number of energy lines is not 72,000 (which was a number in the Buddhist scriptures to state that “it’s a lot”), but there are indeed many lines and sub-lines, and from these, the Thai appointed ten principal lines on which we also find important acupressure points. Manipulating these points make it possible to treat certain diseases and conditions, or to relieve pain.

Blockages in the energy lines result in a deficiency of Prana throughput, which causes discomforts or illnesses. Working on the energy lines with massage, stretching, and acupressure can clear these blockages and hindrances, thereby promoting the free, unhindered flow of energy, which in turn helps to restore health, optimal functioning of both body and mind, and general well-being.


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