Thai Reflexology Archives - Florida School of Massage

The Tension of Opposites

by Karen Ball

Karen facultyWhen teaching Thai Foot Reflexology, I am often asked why we start sessions on the left foot with women and on the right with men. I usually just give the simple explanation that in the Thai model the left side represents the feminine and the right, the masculine.


Here’s a little more detail:

In all the eastern practices, elements are seen as opposing forces. You are probably familiar with the Chinese model of yin/yang: night/day.  Adjectives associated with yin are: cool, inside, receptive, quiet, female, soft, water, earth, dense, moon, dark, For yang: bright, warm, male, sun, outside, expressive, hard, loud, expansive, fire. Both are necessary for existence; you can’t know one side without the other.

In Ayurvedic medicine – from which Thai bodywork arose – these opposing rhythms are referred to as the Ida and Pingala energies. In part, they flow along the opposite sides of the spinal column, ending on the lateral edge of the fifth digit of both of the feet; the Pingala on the right, the Ida on the left. Hence, in Thai Foot Reflexology we begin on the left with a woman, and on the right with a man, so as to re-enforce the more dominant rhythm of the client.

Whereas in China energy lines are referred to as meridians, the energy conduits in Thai medicine are called sen. The two forces mentioned in the paragraph above are known as Sen Ittha and Sen Pinkhala. Sen Pinkhala, the Father energy, is metaphysically represented as electricity; Sen Ittha, the Mother energy, is represented as magnetic. These two forces interact together to activate the coiled energy, called Kundalini, at the base of the spine, and awaken our dormant, libidinal and spiritual forces.

When I first read Carl Jung’s statement, “The tension of opposites is the very essence of life itself,” I had to smile. I thought first of human relationships: how opposite personalities seem to be attracted to one another and work out their differences often through tense interactions. And certainly, according to Thai medicine, that statement would be true. The tension created by the dynamic interplay of Ittha and Pinkhala is what creates the harmony and balance required to live a healthy life. This homeostasis is one of the primary goals of Thai Foot Reflexology.

I hope you’ll join me at the Florida School of Massage in Gainesville on Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22, to experience the effects of Thai Foot Reflexology yourself. Details and registration can be found here.