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What Are Sen Sib?

Sen Sib are ten energy lines in the human body that act as conduits for universal energy in Traditional Thai massage and medicine.

Sen Sib, officially called Sen Prathan Sib, is the basis of Thai massage, which is theoretical and practical knowledge. In Thai, Sib means ten, and sen translates as a line. So Sen Sib are the ten major energy lines in the human body. These energy channels are similar to the meridians in Chinese medicine, Shiatsu, and Nadi in yoga.

Sen are not blood vessels, lymph canals, nerves, tendons or ligaments, and they can neither be seen with the eye nor with the help of microscopes. They are invisible pathways that contain Lom Pran, the life energy in the human body.

Most Sen exist in corresponding pairs, a masculine and a feminine line. Some Sen overlap and combine the functionality of the respective overlapping Sen, and some Sen have specific acupressure points with particular therapeutic functionality.

When a Sen line becomes blocked or broken, the Lom Pran becomes inactive, and the body loses its state of equilibrium. This imbalance causes a person to feel discomfort or illness.

Thai massage treatments remove blockages that can obstruct these channels with a combination of acupressure and stretching. Acupressure is a pressure that a Thai massage practitioner applies with thumbs, elbows, and knees.

By opening the energy channels and balancing the energy flow using acupressure, a Thai massage practitioner re-activates the flow of Lom Pran and restores balance to the body.

History of Sen Sib

Sen lines are not an exact science. Thai massage schools all share the same understanding of Sen Sib but disagree over the precise location of each pathway.

The earliest recorded reference to Sen Sib comes from a Thai scriptural record called the Tamla Loke Nitan Text (Tamra Rok Nithan Khamchan 11) from the reign of King Rama II (1809-1824 CE). Another reference comes from the Royal Traditional Thai Medicine Text (Section Massage Patterns or Phaen Nuad 1 and 2), written during the reign of King Rama V (1868-1910 CE).

By far, the most famous early references come from the reign of King Rama III (1824-1851 CE). He deliberately attempted to rescue lost traditional Thai medicine knowledge by turning Wat Pho in Bangkok into Thailand’s first university. King Rama III called together master artisans and experts in many subjects to gather, share and record their knowledge about Thai Traditional Medicine. These artisans created murals, paintings, plaques and marble tablets that show the energy lines and acupressure points on the front and back of a human body. They also inscribed explanations of each Sen line’s therapeutic use on the sides.

During the Vietnam War in the 1960s, the reputation of Thai massage declined and became associated with the sex trade. So, in 1985, the Thai government supported a special task force named The Thai Massage Revival Project (TMRP) to restore the reputation of Thai massage. Twelve of Thailand’s most respected Thai massage practitioners and teachers met and discussed the future of Thai massage. Among other things, this group reached a common consensus about the trajectories and functions of Sen Sib. They then developed a curriculum used by many Thai massage schools and teachers in Thailand and the rest of the world.

Sen Sib vs Indian Nadi and Chinese Meridians

The Sen in Traditional Thai Medicine exhibit remarkable similarities with the Chinese Qi Meridians and the Indian Yoga Nadis. Several energy pathways mirror the structure of our nervous, lymphatic, circulatory systems, and muscular framework. Some even propose that the Sib Sen may have been an ancient, traditional method to depict various body tissues.

When comparing Sen Sib’s theory with the Indian Yogic Prana Nadis, notable similarities emerge. Both systems regard the channels as conduits for Life Energy (Prana or Lom Pran), and each posits 72,000 lines. The trajectories also show remarkable parallels, particularly in the initial three lines, which bear nearly identical names: Ida (Ittha), Pingala (Pingkala), and Sushumna (Sumana).

Some acupressure points on the Sen Lines correspond to Indian Marma or Varma points, which connect the gross and subtle pranic bodies. Specific acupressure points on the Sen also correspond to Chinese acupuncture points, aligning with the Chinese Meridians.

However, beyond these initial similarities, no concrete evidence links the other lines of the Sib Sen directly to the Qi Meridians or Yoga Nadis. Yet, their shared function as pathways for Life Energy is a compelling connection point.

Given that the Indian Nadi and the Chinese Meridians boast histories spanning at least two millennia, it is plausible that the Thai Sen lines—having assimilated Chinese, Indian, and indigenous Thai medical knowledge—date back much further than the 19th-century Thai scriptural records suggest.

Sen Sib Descriptions

Sen Sumana

Sen Sumana begins two thumb widths above the navel and ends at the bitter part of the tongue

Sen Ittha

Sen Ittha begins one thumb width left of the navel and ends at the inside corner of the left eyebrow

Sen Pingkhala

Sen Pingkala begins one thumb width right of the navel and ends at the inside corner of the right eyebrow

Sen Kalathari

Sen Kalathari begins four thumb widths to the left of the navel and ends on the small bone at the front of the left ear

Sen Sahatsarangsi

Sen Sahatsarangsi begins three thumb widths to the left of the navel and ends at the middle of the bottom of the left eye

Sen Thawari

Sen Thawari begins three thumb widths to the right of the navel and ends at the middle of the bottom of the right eye

Sen Lawusang

Sen Lawusang begins four thumb widths to the left of the navel and ends on the small bone at the front of the left ear

Sen Ulangwa

Sen Ulangwa begins four thumb widths to the right of the navel and ends on the small bone at the front of the right ear

Sen Nanthakrawat

Sen Nanthakrawat begins two thumb widths below the navel and ends at the rectum

Sen Khitchanna

Sen Khitchanna begins two thumb widths below the navel and a little to the right side and end at the penis on men and through the uterus into the vagina on women
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