Thai Massage, preparation and prayer to Shivago

By : ShenPlanet Italia


There are many defferent ways you can prepure youself for performing this “sacred medicine,” Traditional Thai Massage. One suggestions is to take enough time before each session to quiet the mind. You might do this by relaxing on the Earth, sitting or walking meditation, mindful movement and stretches or chanting. Always wash your hands and arms before and after each session. You might light a candle and/or have a fresh bowl of salt water in the treatment room. The flame and salt transform unwanted energies. Remember to pour the salt water onto the Earth at the end of the day to keep the energies moving. Create nice lighting in the room, put clean sheets on the mat and pillow, and have soothing music ready if the client prefects music to silence. You may offer to wash the feet of the client, if they have not had time to do so themselves prior to arrival. You may also offer the client loose pants and shirt if they arrive in work clothes that are not appropriate (i.e.,tight or constrictive). Make sure that as the practitioner you are feeling enough energy to perform the massage. It is not good to work on somebody if your physical or emotional condition is less vibrant than theirs. If you do so, it is possible to deplete the client of vitality, which is counteractive to our intention. It is considered ethical to call off a session in such a case. It is also important to clear any unresolved issue you may have with a client before working with them. This may be as simple as: “you forgot to pay me last session,” or as complex as “I’m feeling attraction to or from you.” It is important to clear anything that may get in the way of helping the client. You are now ready to kneel at the foot of the client and center yourself. First deepen and slow your breath, tuning into your own breath as well as the client’s. Ask for the lineage of healers to be present and assist in allowing the highest form of healing, relaxation and transformation to take place. You may pray in whatever way you please. Another way of looking at prayer is as setting an intention for the session. You may cater this intention to the client’s specific needs. In the Temples. Hospitals and Schools where Tracitional Massage is still performed they begin and end each day with a ceremony know as “Wai Khru.” In this Ceremony flowers, incence, and other gifts are offered as an honoring of the Father Doctor, the Buddha and various symbolic deities that represent unconditional love and healing to its present day practitioners. During this ceremony, the prayer that has been passed down from the ancient Pali and Sanskrit texts is recited by everyone present. In this course we will begin and end each day with this prayer:



“I pray to you, Dr. Shivago, who established the rules and precepts. I pray that kindness, wealth, medicine – everything comes to you. I pray to you who brings light to everyone just like the sun and moon do, who has perfect wisdom and who knows everything. We all love you who are without defilement, who are near to enlightenment – having entered the stream three times. We all come to pray to you. I pray to the Buddha. I pray, I pray that with your help all sickness and disease will be releasede from whom I touch”



The prayer is chanted as follows:

Om Namo Shivago Silasa Ahang Karuniko
Sapasatanag Osatha Tipa-Mantang Papaso
Suriya-Jantang Gomalapato Paka-Sesi Wantami

Bantito Sumethasso A lokha
Sumana Homi (3 times)

Piyo-Nakha Supananang Pinisiang Nama-Mihang
Namo-Puttaya Navon-Navien Nasatit-Nasatien

Ehi-Mama Navien-Nawe Napai-Tang-Vien Navien-Makaku Ehi-Mama piyong – Mama Namo-Puttaya (1 times)Na-A Na-Wa Lokha Payati Vina-Santi (3 times) We invite the spirit of our founder, the Father-Doctor Shivago, who comes to us through his saintly life. Please bring ro us the knowledge of all nature, that this prayer will show us the true medicine of the universe. In the name of this mantra, we respect your help and pray that through our bodies you will bring wholeness and health to the body of our client.
The goddess of healing dwells in the Heavens high, while humankiind dwells in the World below. In the name of the founder, may the Heavens be reflected in the World below so this healing medicine may encircle the world.

We pray for the ones we touch, that they will be happy and illness will be released from them.



The Buddha tought the importance of Meditation. He would give tools for concentration (samadhi) in his teachings, but ultimately he would teach that each individual needs to sit with their own mind and body; with all the thoughts, emotions and sensations that arise and fall away. According to the Buddha, each being needs to work with their own attachments and aversions to these arisings and fallings. With practice we begin to understand the nature of suffering and thus develop loving kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna) toward ourselves and then toward others. These practices also develop insight known as “mindfulnees” practices, which have been popularized by present-day Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. Both Mindfulness and Loving Kingness are important qualities for the practitioner of Thai Massage to develop. The roots of Traditional Massage stemmed from the Buddha’s teachings (Dharma). Practitioners continue to perform massage in order to assist with the alleviation of suffering in others.
When we practice mindfulness, we bring ourseves into the present moment. When we practice Thai Massage, we have an opportunity to be mindful and listen deeply to the needs of our client. This is also an opportunity for both the giver and recipient to be in meditation together. If we are fully present we naturally enter a state of deep listening which nurtures loving kindness and understanding. Don’t we all just want to be understood? What a beautiful way to work: allowing the client to be exactly where they are, with no judgment and no agenda. If we listen and be present with our client (having no need to fix them) transformation, healing and spontaneous joy take place.




Traditional Thai Massage has come to be known as “Nuad bo Rarn” in Thailand, which often translates as “ancient healing” or sacred medicine.” It has been passed down from generation to generation in the temples. Families and texts for more than 2500 years. Thailand, being so near to China and on the trade route to and from Indea, gained the influences from both cultures. In Thai Massage we can see both the influences of Acupuncture, herbs and Shiatsu/Tui-na from China as well as the relation to Ayurvedic Massage and Yoga asanas (postures) from India. All the techniques used in Thai Massage serve to open and balance the energies in the body. These energies move through pathways called Sen, which overlap with the Chinese Meridians and Indian Nadis.
According to Thai folklore, Thai Massage dates back to the time of the Buddha, in the land of India. A hermit and healer emerged from his cave and became the physician for the Buddha and his Sangha (community of monks and nuns). This Doctor’s name was Jivaka Kumar Bhacca, presently popularized as Dr. Shivago Komparaj. Dr. Shivago would accompany the Buddha and his sangha as they would travel throughout the land delivering dharma (teachings) top the lay people. He performed bodywork on the Buddha to help him to stay healthy on his extended travels. He would teach this form of bodywork, along with would in turn assist lay people in healing from sickness in both mind and body. As Buddhism made its way to Thailand, so did this form of healing. Over the years, the Buddha’s teachings got somewhat lost in India, yet became popular and prevailed in the land of Siam (present day Thailand), and so did Nuad Bo Rarn, now translated as “Traditional Massage” Wat Pho, a famous temple in Bangkok, still posseses some of the epigraphs of documented techniques and Sen that were engraved at the time of the Burmese invasions of 1832. Earlier texts were written on palm leaves and stored in Ayutthia, the old copitol city, and when the Burmese invaded, King Rama III had the surviving texts carved in stone.
Today, one can find Traditional Massage throughout Thailand. It is still practiced in some of the most well known Temples. Thai massage has diversified in interpretation and embellishment between the Temples, Hospitals private homes, Massage schools, Massage clinics and the Red Light District. One can still see the roots of both Yogic stretches and Meridian work in Traditional Thai massage, and with the increasing interest of westerners it continues to evolve.



Massage, or the practise of using touch to cure illness, has existed since the beginning of human history. It has been used instinctively long before people knew just why it had such beneficial effects. It seems to have existed under different names among all ancient cultures. References to massage have been found in Chinese literature dating back 3000 years before the Christian era.

Eastern and Western massage have taken off in different directions. In the West, the body has been approached from an objective point of view with the focus being on tangible physical structures such as organs, bones and muscles. Any malfunction has been approached mechanically as a separate entity. This differs radically from the eastern approach which has been more subjective and where the focus has been on the energy within the body. Here problems have been looked upon as a disorder of the whole body and the concept of energy lines and points has been very important.

Swedish massage, which is the most popular style of massage practiced in the West today, focuses on the relaxation of the physical body and does not have an energetic understanding of the body. Thai massage, on the other hand, is an eastern style of bodywork based on the concept of energy. The philosophy behind Thai massage will be discussed more in the section on Philosophy and Theory of Thai Massage. Fortunately, with more and more contact between east and west the best of both approaches is becoming more cross culturally shared.




Thai people come from several different backgrounds – the main ones being Tai, Mon, Khmer and Lowa. The blending of these different ethnic groups as well as the influence of other cultures shows up in Thai culture as a whole.

It is well known that for many centuries Thailand was deeply in fluenced by Indian and Chinese culture. India’s influence shows up in many areas such as Thai language, literature, religion, royal administration and massage to name a few. China’s influence shows up in other areas such as Thai food, art, architecture and medicine.

As Thailand is located between China and India, it is no surprise that the country was influenced by these two great civilizations. An active sea route existed between south India and southern China for at least 2000 years. There was also the famous overland Silk Trail between China and India, which passed through Burma, Thailand’s neighbor to the northwest. It is highly likely that many of the trades and travelers along these routes made a diversion to Thailand on the way.

The most notable contact, however, between India, Thailand and China was through the movement of Buddhism, which was brought to Thailand from India in the 2nd of 3rd century BC by Buddhist envoys. They were sent by India’s king, Ashoka, who asked them to propagate the teachings of the Buddha and to build temples knows as wats.

In terms of Thai massage, the movement of Buddhism to Thailand was improtant as the medical system of and Indian doctor called Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha was incorporated in the religious knowledge of the envoys. It is interesting to note here that the Thai word for massage is nuad boran which literally means ‘ancient massage’. Whether or not Thailand had an indigenous form of massage before Buddhism arrived is not known. Jivaka’s medical system was based on India’s ayurvedic and yogiv traditions. Thai massage’s Indian influence is still obvious today from the large number of yoga like postures used, its many Sanskrit and Pali words, its spiritual foundation as well as from Thai massage therapists’ veneration for Jivaka. In fact a prayer which invokes the blessings of Jivaga is still often recited before giving a Thai massage. Mention of Jivaka can be found in the Pali Canon, the scriptures of Theravada Buddhists who practice today in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Laos, Burma and Cambodia.

Jivaka’s greatness as a doctor and surgeon was legendary. “His supreme skill as a physician was matched by his supreme devotion to Lord Buddha, whom he attended three times a day. The Buddha declared Jivaka to be chief among his lay followers. Because of his medical eminence, Jivaka was three times crowned in public as ‘King of Doctors’, and is therefore known as the ‘Thrice Crowned Physician’...He was an expert in pediatrics and excelled in brain surgery. He successfully performed intricate abdominal operations.” It is no wonder that he is considered by many Thais as “The Father of Medicine”.

Thai massage theory was passed down orally from teacher to student until it was written down on palm leaves in the Pali language using the Khmer script. These texts were venerated and given the same importance as Buddhist religious writings. Unfortunately the Burmese destroyed most of these texts in 1776 when they took over Ayutthia, Thailand’s first capital

In 1832 King Rama the 3rd ordered that all of the best surviving texts be collected and studied. Based on this study, 60 stone plaques were carved of the human body – 30 of the front and 30 of the back. On these figures, points placed on the walls of Phra Chetaphon Temple, more popularly known as Wat Po, in Bangkok as it was the earliest center for public education. Explanations were carved on the walls next to the plaques.

Unfortunately, due to the limited number of texts available then and because the dissection of corpses was forbidden in earlier Thai cultures, many inconsistencies exist in the drawings and their explanations.

Wat Po is still one of the main educational centers for traditional Thai massage. Chiang Mai, Thailand’s 2nd largest city, is the other main center. Classes are available in both cities year round as well as at many other places.

Thai massage is thriving is thriving in Thailand today as more and more people realize the benefit of traditional medicine. Due to its great popularity it is now also being practiced in many other countries and has even found its way back to India.

This text covers specifically the style of massage as done by Ahjarn Pichet Boonthumme, one of Thailand’s greatest living masters who has been responsible for training many of today’s leading teachers in Chiangmai.





Thai massage is one of the brances of traditional Thai medicine. They are manipulation, medicine (orals, salves, compresses and vapors), diet and spiritual ceremonies or magical practices. These ceremonies are deeply rooted in mysticism, astrology and the supernatural. For the mast comprehensive results, Thai massage (i.e. manipulation) should be practiced in conjunction with these three other aspects.

Thai massage’s Buddhist background elevates it to such a high level that it is regarded as a perfect spiritual practice in Thailand for it exemplifies the four divine states of mind taught in Buddhism. These are: metta, good will, loving kindness; karuna, compassion, the desire to help others; mudita, sympathetic joy, gladness for the good fortune of others; and upekkha, impartiality or equanimity. The following words by The Dalai Lama describing Tibetan medicine could actually be used to perfectly describe Thai massage, “Tibetan medicine is deeply integrated with Buddhist practice and theory which stresses the indivisible interdependence of mind, body and vitality. The ideal doctor is one who combines sound medical understanding with strong realization of wisdom and compassion.”

As mentioned before, Thai massage is an Eastern form of therapy where the whole person is diagnosed and treated – not just a particular symptom. It is based on the holistic point of view that any problem is not simply an illness of a particular part, but rather a disorder of the whole being. All the parts of the body are believed to have an organic relationship which exists within an even greater whole – nature. Because of this holistic approach, treatments are usually about two hours long so that the person’s whole body can be addressed. Pichet Boonthumme, whose work this book is based upon, always points out the connections between one problem area and the other and repeatedly says. “connect, connect’” when palpating. Wataru Ohashi, a shiatsu teacher, describes thes in the following words. “In the Orient we believe you are built in one piece, that it is impossible to isolate a part without considering what effect it will have on the whole. We do not concentrate on the illness, but on the entire body. We do not label disease, because all diseases come from the same source – an imbalance of enegy flow throughout the body.”

What is this energy? It can be defined as the force that initiates all physical and psychological functions. This life energy is absorbed from the air we breathe and the food we eat. Different cultures have given different names to this energy. In India it is called Prana, in China – chi, in Japan – ki and in Thailand it is called lom which means wind. This energy is believed to travel down invisible pathways. In Thailand the pathways are called sen, in India, nadis and in China and Japan they are called meridians, channels and/or vessels. In Tibetan medicine it is said that the “...mystic channels are numerous, they are sometimes numbered 72,000 but are also said to be uncountable”. In India and Thailand it is also believed the there are 72,000 energy lines. Whatever the number of lines, where they run and what they do varies “...depending on the medical system...involved. They are not solid realities which one can point out like in the physical body, in spite of the fact that people often try to make exact identifications with particular parts of the body. Such identifications do not hold up. There are however, more general correspondences which do have meaning and significance.” The pathways according to Ryokyu Endo, “...can be felt only through personal experience and therefore belong to a world indefinable by words. Clinically, the position and depth of meridians varies infinitely according to each patient...Because of their qualitative nature, meridians can only be perceived by an equally qualitative mind. Healers are able to recognize meridians when they are in sympathy with the patient’s vital energies and there is a fusion between the feelings of the two...Meridians were discovered as a means of cure based on treatment through sympathy between the patient and doctor. In fact, meridians cannot be understood outside the concept and practice of curing the patient through the touch of the skin...Recent attempts to scientifically prove the existence of meridians by electrical responses in the living body have not succecded because what can be scientifically proven is linited to the quantitative expressions of scientific method.”

In Thailand, out of the 72,000 lines, ten have been selected as the main ones to use during Thai massage therapy. Although it has been agreed that there are ten main sen, descriptions of where they run and what they do differ from school to school. It is important to note here that in Thai massage. Therapy is is focused on the whole line rather than on individual points although points can be used for treatment in addition to the line work. Descriptions and illustrations of the ten main sen, according to the findings of Ahjarn Pichet Boonthumme, can be found in the Advanced Course manual. These sen illustrations, however, are only rough maps of invisible pathways many of which travel deep inside the body and therefore are very difficult to put down on paper.

As far as the beginner’s training is concerned only parts of these energy lines are used. These segments have been referred to as Lines 1,2,3 and so forth for the convenience of Western students. These line numbers, however, are not part of the traditional Thai way of teaching which is more experiential and less analytical. Illustrations of where these line segments run are given in the Technique section.

Lastly, according to Thai Belief, the right side of the body is considered the masculine side and the left side is considered the feminine side. Therefore, in a traditional treatment, the right side of the body is treated first when working on a man and vice versa for a woman. For example, if you were working on the feet one at a time and your client was a female, you would massage her left foot first and her right foot second. Energy in women is believed to flow in a counterclockwise direction, whereas in men it is thought to flow in a clockwise direction.

The important things to focus on during the basic training are to develop sensitivity to the lines, to be able to feel areas of tension and tightness, to know how to use one’s bodyweight and to work in a relaxed and yet concentrated way.



Thai massage should be done in a rhythmical relaxed manner at a moderate pace. Touch during the treatment should be used first as a means of gathering information and secondly as form of therapy. Due to this approach, the initial contact in a technique should be lighter than the later ones. In general, perssure builds from soft, to strong for each technique. Usually, perpendicular leaning pressure should be used for applying weight and progressively stronger stretches should be used for stretching. The therapist should rock form side to or from front to back while working so as to slowly shift their weight.

The therapist’s body position is of tremendous importance throughout the massage for with good body mechanics the work can be done easily in a comfortable and effective way. The therapist’s weight should generally be distributed between whatever areas of his or her own body he of she is working with such as his or her hands, elbows, knees and/or feet. When applying pressure, the arms or legs of the therapist should usually be kept straight so that leaning power rather than muscular force is used. In general, space should he kept between the therapist’s body and the area of the client that is being worked on.

It is also important for the therapist at most times to have their “center” – i.e. their abdominal area – facing their client. It is from this center that the therapist’s power comes. In this area there is a specific spot below the navel which is the origin of this power. It is called the dan tien in Chinese theory and is located 1 ½ cun below the navel. A cun is a Chinese measurement using the breadth of the first joint of the thumb. This point is focused on in many Asian meditation and martial arts practices to cultivate internal power



There are many parts of the therapist’s body that can be used for applying pressure when giving a Thai massage. Following are the main body parts:

1. Palm the heel of the palm is mainly used
2. Thumb the joint between the two phalanges of
the thumb is used, not the rip or pad of
the thumb
3. Crossed Thumbs one thumb is crossed over the other at
the joint between the two phalanges of
the thumb and pressure is applied
through this joint
4. Thumb and Fingers a body part is squeezed between the
thumb joint and fingers
5. Fingers the end of the fingers are used
6. Side of Hand the lateral side of the hand is used
7. Butterfly Hands the heels of the hands are near each
other with the fingers facing in apposite
directions; pressure is applied through
the palms simultaneously
8. Modified Butterfly Hands the heels of the hands are separated
from each other a little
9. Elbow the elbow is used
10. Forearm the forearm is used
11. Knee the knee is used
12. Sole of Foot the sole of the foot is used
13. Side of Foot the lateral side of the foot is used
14. Heel of Foot the heel of the foot is used

The above body parts can be used in various techniques. Following are the main techniques:

1. Palming the palms of the hands are walked one
after the other
2. Thumbing the thumb of the leading hand is slid
forward four onkkulee on an energy line
and then followed by the other thumb
which is picked up and piaced two
onkkulee behind it
3. Foot Walking the soles of the feet are walked one
after the other
4. Hitting the back or front of a loose fist is used
to hit a body part
5. Chopping each finger of the right hand is joined
with its corresponding finger on the left
hand, i.e. pinkie to pinkie, etc.; the pairs of fingers are kept separated from each other as are the palms, the elbows are brought forward and the chopping movement comes from the rotation of the wrist
6. Squeezing various parts of the therapist’s body are
used to squeeze
7. Circling the palms or thumbs circle on a body
8. Brushing the hands brush the body

These techniques are used when the therapist is in various positions. Following are the main positions:

1. Kneeling this can be done in several positions
such as with the knees and feet
together and the feet flat on the floor or
with the knees spread open and the feet
flat on the floor or with the feet up on the
2. Crawling the hands are below the shoulders and
the knees are below the hips with the
knees shoulder width apart, the arms
should be kept straight, the feet should
be up on the toes
3. Half Lunge the knee of one leg is on the floor below
the hip of that leg and the foot of the
other leg is on the floor below that knee
with the thigh of that leg parallel to the
4. Lunge one leg is stretched out and the other is
half bent with the foot below the knee of
that leg and the thigh parallel to the floor
5. Sitting there are various ways of sitting such as
with one leg bent and the other
stretched out or with both legs
outstretched, etc.
6. Half-kneeling, half-squatting one leg is kneeling and the other is in a
squatting position
7. Squatting this is done in a squatting position with
the weight on the balls and toes of the
feet and the heels off of the floor

These techniques are used to move the client’s body in various ways such as by:

1. Stretching
2. Lifting
3. Rotating
4. Pulling
5. Pushing
6. Twisting

For the sake of clarity certain terminology will be used throughout the text as follows:

1. Up the foot move upward from the toes toward the
heel of the foor
2. Down the foot move downward from the heel toward
the toes of the foot
3. Up the leg move upward from the ankle toward the
inguinal crease
4. Down the leg move downward from the inguinal
crease toward the ankle
5. Up the arm move upward from the wrist toward the
6. Down the arm move downward from the armpit toward
the wrist
7. Up the back move from the hips toward the
8. Down the back move from the shoulders toward the

Also certain technical words will be used instead of the common lay person’s words. They are:

Malleolus ankle bone
Ischial tuberosity sit bone
Tibia shin bone
Scapula shoulder blade

Lastly, the positions described in this book are based on giving a treatment to a female client. Remember that with a female client, work is generally done on the left side frist and then on the right.









Thai massage usually begins with work on the feet as they are the lowest part of the body gravity wise. By working there first, a person’s energy can be moved upward thus helping with the circulation of energy. This is very important as due to graviry our energy usually only flows downward. Massage or inverted postures such as are performed in yoga can therefore help to remedy this.

The feet are one of four reflex areas in the body. The other three reflex areas are the hands, ears and the irises of the eyes. Reflex areas contain points that correspond with other parts of the body. When these points are stimulated there is an effect on the corresponding body part. According to reflexology, each foot represents a half of the body with the right foot corresponding to the right side of the body and the left foot corresponding to the left side. The reflex areas on the feet are as follows:

Part of Foot Reflex Area

Toes Head
Balls of Feet Chest, Lungs, Shoulders
Upper Arch Diaphragm to Waist, Upper Abdominal
Lower Arch Waist to Pelvis, Lower Abdominal
Heel Pelvic Area, Sciatic Nerve
Medial Side of Foot Spine
Lateral Side of Foot Shoulder, Arm, Leg, Knee, Hip, Lower
Ankle Pelvic Area, Reproductive Organs

As you work, notice for any differences between the right and left foot, areas of particular hardness, lumps, heat, coolness, etc. Sometimes very grainy areas can be felt. These are usually deposits of uric acid and calcium crystais. By massaging these areas the crystals will be reabsorbed in the blood.



Thai massage therapists believe that work on the legs is a very important part of the massage. In a typical two or three hour massage at least one hour of the massage is devoted to just the legs. This is again partly to counter act the general downward flow of energy – i.e. to move energy up so that the upper part of the body also has energy. It is also a means of diagnosis and therapy, for problems in the legs indicate problems further up in the body such as in the abdomen, back or shoulders. Ryokyu Endo says. “...treatment on the legs will to a certain extent, soften any since most of the sen lines run through the legs, by working on these lines one can affect the sen in the rest of the body.

Thai people belive that the abdomen is the center of the body – that it is a window which reveals intimately what is happening isside. Since this area contains so many vital organs, great care should be taken when working here. Begin with light contact and gradually increase the pressure. Make sure to work slowly and sensitively.


The back is of crucial importance as it contains the spine through which 95% of the body’s nerves travel. These spinal nerves affect almost every part of the body including its organs and glands. Likewise the condition of the body’s organs is reflected in the back. Ask all of the internal organs are affected by what happens in this area it is very beneficial to spend a lot of time and care when working on the back.


Sen sib, the ten life energy lines, is the heart of Thai massage and basic of therapeutic Thai massage throughout history of Thailand. The actual documentation of when and how Sen sib originated has not been found. The documents discovered occurred during the period of King Rama II (A.D. 1809-1824) written by Phraya Wichayatibbodee, formal governor of Chantaboon Province; the inscription on marble plates at Wat Pho during King Rama III (A.D.1824-1851); the major ancient discription of Sen Sib in the Royal Traditional Thai medicine text complied by the command of King Rama V in A.D.1870.
These three documentations have been the main text of Sen Sib theory. The basic theories of them are the same. There are more than one name on some lines and there are some minor differences on names of each line.
Thai massage in theory has similar philosophy of Ayurvedic based on life energy channels and the belief that one person’s health and well being rely on the balance of life energy. Life energy in Thai massage is called ‘Prana” meaning “the wind of life” or in Thai word “Lom Pran”. The obstruction of Prana flow can cause discomfort or illness to a person. Sen Sib, being the major energy channels throughout the body, needs to be maintained against any blockage.
The ancient Royal Traditional Thai medicine Text indicates there are 72,000 channels twined inside the abdominal cavity. There are ten major channels leading all 72,000 channels spread from the abdominal cavity through the entire body. The ten major life energy channels are called “Sen Sib”.
Thai massage, when applied properly, has an immense effect on Sen Sib result to unblock any obstruction of energy flow, and provide balance to body-mind and spirit. The ancient Thais applied pressure points according to Sen Sib to heal certain illnesses in combination with herbal medicine application. In the present time, some of these presure points are being used in therapeutic massage to relieve common ailments.
Sen Sib indicates the channels of the lines as available from three important sources as follows:
1. the Royal Traditional Thai Medicine Text gathered in King Rama V era.
2. the document in ancient text “Tamla Loke Nitan” (fable medicinal story text) during King Rama II era by Phraya Wichayatibbodee (Klom), former governot of Chantaboon Province.
3. the lines inscribed on marble tablets at Wat Pho

Characteristics of Sen Sib
1. There are ten major lines. “ Sen” means line and “Sib” means ten.
2. The origination of all ten lines are lining underneath the abdominal surface around the navel approximately two finger width deep
3. Each line has different exit throughout the body accordingly.
4. The lines are invisible. They are invisibly connected to send sensation when pressing at the righ presure points to the corresponding directions.
5. There is “wind”, being the energy force, run through the line. If the line is obstructed, the wind can cause illness. Some lines have more than one wind, some have names for the windsa, and others do not have names. However, lines with no wind names mentioned may not mean lack of wind. The ancient people merely did not mention names on some, but still indicate symptoms when there are blockage in the particular lines.
6. The lines have pressure point locations that effect the wind when pressing.

Most learners follow Wat Pho list of Sen Sib with minor variation. For the simplicity to trace direction when mentioning Sen Sib, this text will refer to Sen Sib names follow from Wat Pho.
The direction of Sen Sib mentioned here contain from all three sources mentioned above. Most of the lines have the same direction. However, some lines do not cover certain parts as others. This text will apply all of them and indicate the differences.
For the origination location points from the navel on all lines, only Wat Pho source indicates exact locations of the each line. However, the points on the marble tables are in two difnensions scripture and difficult to interpret. The exact location points were abel to obtain in the finding of actual pressures tracing by several experienced Thai massage teachers during the Thai Massage Revival Project in 1985. Hence, the explanation on the origin related to the navel herein is merely from Wat Pho source only. Measurement of “finger width” is not certain of which finger since there is no exact rule. However, most teachers presume it to be the thumb.

On left side of the body: Starts one finger width left side of the navel, passes pubic area to inside left thigh toward the rear, then run upward pass left buttock to along left side of spine, continue to head and curve downward to left side of face and exit via left nostril.


On right side of the body: Starts one finger width right side of the navel, passes pubic area to inside right thigh toward the rear, then run upward pass right buttock to along right side of spine, continue to head and curve downward to right side of face and exit via right nostrill.

On the center of the body: Starts two finger width above the navel, runs deeply inside the chest pass through the throat exit at the tongue. There is no line in the back.

All three sources of Sen Sib tracing are vary in the direction of the branches. However they all indicate there are four branches

The Marble Tablets at Wat Pho
Starts one finger width above the navel and separate into four branches. Two upper branches pass along side of ribcages through inner scapulars to both arms. Downward to wrists and all ten fingers. Two lower branches run downward on medial side thighs and calf to ankles and all ten toes.
Note: No indication of the line on the rear upper body.

Royal Traditional Thai Medicine Text during King Rama V
The ancient drawing shows three origin points around the navel of the four branches. The text described the drawing that two upper branches run through the back side along the spine and spread to both arms downward to the wrist and all ten fingers. Both lower branches run through medial side of thighs and legs to all toes.
Note: No indication of the line on the rear lower body.

Tamla Loke Nitan during King Rama II
The poem indictes origin from around navel and separates to four branches. Two upper branches run along both side of body, climb up through scapular blades, then over the head along “Kamdan Line” (the main energy line at middle-across the head) and slide back and forth, continue on posterior arms to wrists and speread to all fingers. Two lower branches run through both thighs to along tibia bones until ankles and spread to all toes.
Note: No indication of the line on the back the rear lower body.

Summary: Line 4 combines from all sources should have four branches cover the body on the front part, the head, and the rear part from waist upward.


On left side of the body: Starts three finger width left side of the navel, run downward medial side of left thigh and leg to left foot passing base of all five toes continue to the lateral side of left foot upward along lateral side but closer to tibia bone of lower left leg to left thigh continue to left side of ribcage passing left nipple upward to undermeath left chin to exit at the left eye.
Note: Tamla Loke Nitan indicates the line runs through plantar and reverse to dorsal.


On right side of the body: Starts three width right side of the navel, run downward medial side of right thigh and leg to right foot passing base of all five toes continue to the lateral side of right foot upward along lateral side but closer to tibia bone of lower right leg to right thigh continues to right side of ribcage passing right nipple upward to underneath right chin to exit at the right eye.
Note: Tamla Loke Nitan indicates the line runs through plantar and reverse to dorsor.


On left side of the body: Starts four finger width left side of the navel, run upward through left breast to left side of neck and exits at left ear.


On right side of the body: Starts four finger width right side of the navel, run upward through right breast to right side of neck and exit at right ear.

Starts two finger width a little to the left under the navel, run downward to exit at the anus.


Starts two finger width a little to right under the navel, run downward to exit at the sexual organ and the urethra.



The Sen Sib diagrams in this book will trace the lines according to all three sources. Therefore, the lines will cover as completely as they should be. Since, some sources may not designate one area while another trace through the missing part, the difference location will be as in Line 4 during King Rama V and Rama II; Line 5 and 6 during King Rama II.


Holistic Benefits of Thai Massage

1. Community
Thai massage improves bonding within the family. It has been custom within the tradition thai children massage the elders, and the elders help each other when there is need to soothe and relieve body aches and pains. Human touching increases the sense of love and caring between giver and receiver. This is an altemate method of showing their love to one another since Thais are neither used to, nor comfortable with derect expressions of love and affection by overt touching

2. Health Care
Thai massage helps maintain and wellness in the receiver of massage. It is and ancient tool employed to combat common ailments, increase the effectiveness of the body movement and benefit physiological system. Thai massage also results in longevity due to a strengthening of the body’s immune systems and balanced life energy.

3. Prevention
Thai massage techniques prepare the body to ward off bed sores (pressure wounds occurring when a patient lies in one position too long), muscle weakness, headaches, dysmenorrheal (menstrual cramps), constipation, indigestion, stress, and other conditions.

4. Healing
Thai massage may also be able to relieve pain, sprains and inflammation of muscles, tendon, joints, as well as reduce stiffness of joints, increase muscle strength and improve mobility.

5. Rehabilitation
Thai massage is used as a mean to stimulate paralyzed muscles to help improve circulation and function and to maintain muscle strength. It also has been effectively applied in the rehabilitation for handicapped children as the practice at the Center for Handicap Children in Bangkok. The center trains parents of the handicap themselves improves quickly with Thai massage. This may due to the therapeutic effects of human touching combined with massage effect to life energy. Some children are able to sit up and some even are able to feed themselves after receiving on-going Thai massage.



Thai massage application by using direct presure on muscle over most part of the body with combination of stretching to further stimulate musculoskeletal system which including joints, bones, nerves, ligament, lymphatic system create benefit to all five physiological body systems.

Benefit to five physiological systems

1. Circulation system. Lmproves blood circulation, lower heart rate, elevates temperature of massage area, increases lymphatic circulation, reduces edema (swelling).
2. Musculoskeletal system: lmproves muscle strength and effectiveness, relieves muscle tension, removes toxins from muscle mass, relaxes tendon and enhances elasticity, increases joint mobility and flexibility, and reduces stiffness.
3. Nerous system: Stimulates and improves activity of nerve and sensation with effects of reducing pain, enhancing sensation to the skin, and improved function of internal organs such as stomach, intestine etc.
4. Respiratory system: lmproves depth of breathing and relaxation.
5. Digestive system: Increases elasticity of digestive tract and stomach movement, prevents and relieves indigestion.

For the mind, Thai massage offers the receiver the most renowned effect of total relaxation thus reducing stress of daily tasks or a hectic environment. On some receptive receivers, this highly positive stress-relief effect may go beyond the present and penetrate into deep, past emotional scars and help release them.
As to the spiritual to the receiver, Thai massage based on the element of life and sen sib (life energy), has a tremendous positive impact on the spirit when the giver also concentrates on the energy flow while giving massage. When pressure is applied to each point to awaken the energy through Sen Sib, coupled with gentle, smooth movement during the transition of each sequence, combined with the union of breath between giver and a receptive, such sacred harmonious union will bring the giver and receiver close to a tranquil meditative state and become one.


Thai massage is safe when performed with adequate knowledge of the receiver’s physical condition. Physical disorders vary from one’s body system to another’s and the effects on the receiver depend on the massage position as well.
The practice section of this book provides cautionary notes for particular positions and should be followed strictly. Here are some guidelines to consider conditions which necessitate refraining from administreing Thai massage or proceed with caution should these symptoms occur.

1. Injury or inflammation of muscle
Reduce the discomfort by apply cold compress to acute injury which is red and warm to the touch part.
Apply not compress or herbal ball to the area of the chronic injury to soften and reduce tension. Massage with caution.
2. Bone fracture or joint dislocation
Perform first aid if possible on acute injury and refer to physician.
With permission from caring physician, during healing process, massage with caution.
3. Fever from any causes
If the body is aching from muscle inflammation, massage will exacerbate the inflammation. It may also spread infection if the cause of inflammation is bacteria.
However, giver may gently massage hands, face and head to relax and offer relief and support to receiver.
4. Varicose veins (enlarged veins)
The pressure of massage may dislodge any clots in the vein and cause obstruction to heart and/or brain.

5. Contagious skin disease
The disease may be spread to other parts of the body and contacted by the giver. Massaging non-affected skin area is possible but giver must avoid the area of the rash.
6. Drug and/or alcohol intoxication
Massage may worsen the intoxicating agent’s effect and give rise to risk of uncontrollable behavior by the intoxicated person.
7. Cancer
Massage allowed with approval from attending physician; avoid site of tumor and sensitives surrounding ares. Reduce pressure to half of normal pressure. Do not apply pressure to lymph nodes and observe the contraindication positons indicated in the practice section of this book. Experience in massage is needed.
8. III health such as non-severe heart condition, diabetes, high blood pressure, stoke, and chronic illness conditions. Apply special techniques with caution as indicated in the practice section of this book.
9. Woman during pregnancy and menstruation cycle
Apply techniques with caution as indicated in the practice section of this book. Massage pregnant woman needs additional special training.
10. When receiver is very hungry offer light snack and tea before massage. If too full, avoid positions which may cause discomfort such as face down and refrain from abdominal massage.

Note: Do not exert pressure beyond receiver’s comfort tolerance. Giver much not play a role of “medical physician”. Always refer receiver to seek professional health care advice when appropriate.


When the client arrives for the first time, make an extra effort to help them feel comfortable. They may be unfamiliar with Thai Massage and nervous because they don’t know what to expect. Have a health intake form ready for them to fill out. When they complete the intake, look it over and ask them to talk about what they have written on the form. Take close note of injuries, medications, blood pressure, varicose veins and complaints. Ask more questions if you need more information. If you are unsure about something that tooks serious to you, make a call, look in a book or refer them to a Medical Doctor. Always err on the side of caution.
It is important to begin each session by first seeing the beauty and innate good in the client. It is easy as body workers to hear the client’s complants and to search out what is “wrong” and why. I believe if we first see what is beautiful, we can help the client to enhance their beauty, then organically the pain or what some might think of as “ugly” will decrease. We are not here to “fix” the client; we are here to assist them in their own healing process. This occurs when they are ready, not when you, the practitioner, are ready . We must work with patience, love and mindfulness.
Get your own body comfortable by slowing down your breath, relaxing your shoulders and jaw, and emptying your mind. Begin the session slowly and work with a rhythm that feets comfortable for both you and the client. Some sensions may be very slow and methodical while others may be more vigorous; with practice you will get a sense of the clicnt’s needs and develop a rhythm that works for both of you. Let the client know from the get-go that feedback about pressure, comfort and discomfort are welcome and encouraged.
I will always remember what one of my teachers, Avishai, taught me to say to myself when performing body work: “Thank you for allowing me to use Breema Bodywork, a similar yet different modality, that has fed my study of Thai Massage deeply. The principles in Breema are: Let the body move naturally, use the whole body, maintain physical connection throughout treatment, lean with relaxed, natural body weight, let your instinct determine pressure, deepen and release gradually, allow pressure to be firm yet gentle and remember all treatments are based in non-judgement. These principles are nice guidelines for living a spiritual life. We can choose to let our bodywork exchanges be a natural extension of our spiritual life, thus, a good reason to continue to develop our own personal practice (yoga, tai-chi, mindfulness, meditation, exercise, prayer....etc).
Mechanically speaking, again, we want to make sure as givers that we are comfortable. We work with a rocking motion that helps us to conserve our energy. Even if we are holding a placement in one of our moves, the current is still flowing. We always make sure that we are taking care of ourselves by moving without great effort. Also, it is important to always move from our center, known by the Chinese as the Tan-Tien and the Japanese as the Hara (located about three inches below the navel). Always check with straight arms when applying deep pressure or weight. Always check alignment and assess whether you are comfortable while performing a move. If not, take a moment to adjust yourself so that you are. Remember to lean into the client’s body to create depth and pressure rather than use strength to create it. When using the thumbs, use the ball of the thumb rather than the tip. You may stack thumbs or experiment with elbows, heels and knees if your thumbs are tired of stressed. Check your own shoulders, are they relaxed? Are you breathing? Is your client breathing? Are they breathing deeply? Sometimes just by you deepening your own breath, the client will deepen theirs...again a symbiotic relationship occurs. We will go over body mechanics throughout the training in relation to specific moves.
The Sen, the energetic pathways in the body, origiante deep in the abdomen. It is always best to ask the client if it’s okay to work on / touch their belly; you may do this prior to the session, or just before moving to begin abdomen work. Not all sessions require abdominal work. As we work on the rest of the body, stretching and applying compression to the Sen, we actually facillitate movement of energy in the organs and tissue of the belly. A complete Thai massage session moves energy and Wind (Lom). This is the same energy called Prana in Ayurveda Medicine.



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