Thai Traditional Massage Sen Lines
What are Thai Traditional Massage Sen Lines?
Sen is the Thai word for line. It is the same concept as Prana Nadi used in Yogic terminology and the terms are interchangeable. The Sanskrit word Nadi means stream or movement. Sip Sen are thought to be energetic pathways of the life giving breath in the body. These lines actually form the Matrix, Energetic or Prana Maya Kosha body. The oldest traditional yogic texts are reputed to make reference to the existence of 350,000 lines.
As recently as two thousand years ago certain references alluded to as many as 72, 000 of these lines. This really makes common sense. If the Lines are how life energy is distributed through our being and body, then every part of us would need a way to receive this energy. So more likely there are billions of lines.
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Phraa Wat Chetuphon Epigraphies: The earliest known references to them in the traditional medicine of Thailand is found on the premises of Phra Wat Chetuphon more commonly known as Wat PO, in Bangkok. This record appears in the form of a series of actual stone carvings called the “ Medical Texts which His Majesty King Rama III had engraved at Phra Chetuphon in B.E. 2375 (AD 1832)”. These were commissioned public works based on older original Thai Traditional Medicine Codex.
Two types of Sen: Subtle and Gross (Pranavaha and Manavaha Nadi):
Sen are Prana Nadis or energetic pathways of the life giving breath in the body. These lines form the matrix, or energetic body. In Ayurveda this body is called the Pranamaya Kosha.
These pathways correlate and communicate with each other. Their nexus of communication are the chakras, major concentrations or vortices of energy. They also flow through minor chakras which are called by many different names; Lom or wind gates, Marma, Muladra, Granthis, knots and acupuncture points. The Sen lines move this energy to the various individual parts of us.
Upon inspection, we find many of these knots to be, in fact, the same points used in traditional acupuncture. Many also correspond with the common location of trigger points.
In the traditional literature of Thailand, an Indian born Tibetan Yogic Doctor or Physician named Father Shivago Komolaboat (Jivaka), is credited with distilling the theory of 72, 000 lines into ten primary lines. The Thais call these ten lines Sip Sen. In Shivago’s day it commonly took 20 or thirty years for an apprentice doctor to become recognized as a physician. One of the reasons for this was simply the volume, the number of various concepts to be learned and memorized. If one had to learn thousands of lines, points, Chakra etc. it would take many years. However, by distilling the “thousands i.e. infinite” number to few the time to function for the prospective physician was greatly reduced. Think of how an interstate highway distills many surface streets into one or a few national highways as an example.
There are not only 10 Sen Lines (Sip Sen). In some illustrations and or oral traditions there are 72, 000. In some depictions as many as 350,000! If you consider the idea that every part of us needs this vital essence or life energy and by every part I refer not just to soft tissue planes (Myofascial Channels and or Trans-subcutaneous Muscular Channels- TSM’s), organs and skeleton but to every living cell then the larger numbers as symbolic of infinity. Similar to the “Theory of Ten Thousand Things” in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The three primary Sen (Tri-Se: Sumana, Ittha, Pingkala) develop in the embryo, and within eight weeks all the main chakras and subtle nerves are formed. Sip Sen( or ten lines), generate, maintain and correct a harmonious state in the body/ mind/ psyche.
In theory, the ten lines generate, maintain and correct a harmonious balance or state in the body / mind / psyche, or spirit. Chakras function on one level as cosmic windows facilitating an exchange of energy between the human body and the universe. The various lines then move this energy to the individual parts of us. The lines, although responsive to the initial energy or stimulation from the chakras may also function to tune or to assist the chakra function in turn. This picture is one of a reciprocal system. Moving, adjusting, stretching or otherwise affecting the lines into particular relationships may, in turn, focus more or less energy or Prana to (or through) one or more particular chakras.
The Sen may also function to tune or to assist the chakra function. Think of a two -way transceiver. By moving the body into the various postures or Asanas, we change the relationships of the lines to each other. This may enhance or focus more or less energy to particular chakras. This concept sees the lines as a sort of antenna. Change the alignment of the antenna and get a better or a different picture.
If Chakra are the the transformers and generating stations, then the Sen/ Nadi are the network and sub-nets of and for the distribution of energy.
What flows in the Sen?
The traditional term is Lom or “Wind”. However, Lom is more than the elemental force one of the “Thaat Thang Sii” is is literally wind, breath and vitality. Thai Ayurveda calls it Prana Yama or vital breath of life. It is the essence of vitality and life force. This essence or force is known in all cultures by different names such as Taoist Qi, Chi, Ki, Huna (Mana), Elan Vital, Ka, Orgonne, Shakti, Holy Spirit, African Ashe.
Sip Sen Line Names and Correlation with Classical Ayurveda concept of Prana Nadi
There is an almost exact correlation between classic Ayurveda (Tibet, India, Sri Lanka) and Thai Sen, even the names for most are virtually identical. The major difference being between Thai Pali and Classical Sanskrit. Each Sen follows a unique pathway and is exclusive to one side of the body. The Sen themselves are divided up into traditional categories of Sun / Moon, Male / Female alignment (Left side lines are Lunar/ female and Right side lines are Solar/ male). This could also be an indication of polarity.
In practice the different traditional schools and specific to regions place more or less emphasis on addressing the Sen Lines and also as to specifically how to do it! Some stress Thai Traditional Massage Sen lines over points and others points (Lom/ Marma) over the Sen. This can vary widely from school to school. The biggest variation is found in the western schools in the US in which there is very little education about the traditional theories such as Sen Lines and therefor less or little clinical emphasis.
THAI PALI Sen Line Ayurveda: Sanskrit Prana Nadi
#1 SEN SUMANA (Core) SUSHUMNA (Rajas)
#2 SEN ITTHA (L. side) IDA (Tamas)
#3 SEN PINGHALA (R. side) PINGALA (Satvic)
#4 SEN KALATHARI (Core) VISHVODARA
#5 SEN SAHATSARANGSI (L) GHANDARI
#6 SEN THAWARI (R. side) HASTAJIVA
#7 SEN LAWUSANG (L. side) YASHASVINI (Female)
#8 SEN ULANGKA (Rucham) (R) PUSHA (Male)
#9 SEN NANTHAKRAWAT Kuhu
A) Sikhini B) Sukumang
#10 SEN KHITCHANNA Shakhini
A) Itaken B) Kitcha
Other systems with similar ideas
The Indian Ayurveda correlations have been discussed. There also appear to be correlations conceptually in other systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture. The nearest overlapping examples are found in the Theory of TSM’s or Trans-subcutaneous Muscular Channels. TSM’s relate to the organs as due the more common meridians however are broad and general and appear to follow Fascial planes (Myofascial Channels or Chains).
The traditional Hawaiian Ho’omana/ Kahuna (Huna) Medicine also emphasizes pathways of life force which they term Cords. These cords flow within us and between us and the world around us.
Scientific research and Theory in support of Thai Traditional Massage Sen Lines (Energy pathways, vessels, conduits)
Additional sources and references suitable would be in Alternative and Complimentary research into Electromedicine, Quantum Medicine, Primo Vascular System (PVS), Myofascial Muscle Channels or Chains, Krabi Krabong, Muay Boran and Muay Thai Traditional Thai Martial Arts.
- What is evidence-based about myofascial chains? A systematic review
- Exploring New Horizons in Electromedicine: Robert O. Becker. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. February 2004, 10(1): 17-18. doi:10.1089/107555304322848904.
- Lines, Wheels and Points and Remedies: Anthony B. James, Meta Journal Press, Atlanta, Georgia 1983: ISBN 1-886338-08-6
- Ayurveda and Thai Yoga: Religious Therapeutics Theory and Practice by Ajahn, Dr. Anthony B. James
- Myofascial Meridians as Anatomical Evidence of Acupuncture Channels: Peter T. Dorsher. Medical Acupuncture. June 2009, 21(2): 91-97. doi:10.1089/acu.2009.0631.
- Traditional Alternative as Complimentary Sciences: The Case of Indo-Tibetan Medicine: Joseph J. Loizzo and Leslie J. Blackhall. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Fall 1998, 4(3): 311-319. doi:10.1089/acm.1998.4.3-311.
- Study on meridian tropism of medicinal property theory for Chinese medicines by supramolecular chemistry
- Acupuncture Meridian of Traditional Chinese Medical Science: An auxiliary Respiratory System.
- Yoga Breathing for Cancer Chemotherapy-Associated Symptoms and Quality of Life: Results of a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial: Anand Dhruva, Christine Miaskowski, Donald Abrams, Michael Acree, Bruce Cooper, Steffanie Goodman, and Frederick M. Hecht. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. May 2012, 18(5): 473-479.
- Bio-Energetic Medicine: Scientific Evidence in Support of Acupuncture and Meridian Theory:
I. Introduction: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Reprinted, with permission, from IEEE, ENGINEERING IN MEDICINE AND BIOLOGY Magazine, Volume 15, Number 3, May/June 1996.
- The Flow of Qi: Metaphysical Metaphor or Physical Reality: Terry Oleson. Medical Acupuncture. September 2010, 22(3): 157-159. doi:10.1089/acu.2010.2018. doi:10.1089/acm.2011.0555.
- The Pimo Vascular System: New Research on a Half-Century-Old Idea: Richard C. Niemtzow. Medical Acupuncture. October 2013, 25(5): 309-310. doi:10.1089/acu.2013.2551.
- Will the Primo Vascular System Finally Solve the Mystery of Acupuncture?: McDonald Mark J.. Medical Acupuncture. February 2015, 27(1): 33-37. doi:10.1089/acu.2014.1075.
- Gross Anatomy and Acupuncture: A comparative Approach to Reappraise the Meridian System: Stefano Marcelli. Medical Acupuncture. February 2013, 25(1): 5-22. doi:10.1089/acu.2012.0875.
- Modern View of The Theory of Channels, Collaterals, and Organs: Mikhail Teppone and Romen Avakyan. Medical Acupuncture. March 2007, 19(1): 43-48. doi:10.1089/acu.2006.507.
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