What is it? Chi nei tsang means 'working the energy of the internal organs'. It's a specialised massage therapy of the navel and abdominal area, where - according to ancient principles of kung fu and tai chi - stress, tension and negative emotions accumulate. The popular saying about having 'fire in the belly' has some reference to chi nei tsang. Chi means life force or energy. According to traditional Chinese healing, chi must flow freely through the meridians for the body to be in harmony. Chi nei tsang identifies a strategic area called dan tian in the lower abdomen between the navel and pubic bone. It's the body's centre of gravity, where energy is stored and propelled. Energy blockages from organ obstructions and congestion in the abdomen can result in knots at the centre of the vital functions, impeding the flow of chi. 'When this area is knotted, the body's energy and circulation is also blocked, causing loss of energy and a strain on internal organs,' says practitioner Buathon Thienarrom (above). Where did the therapy originate? The principles of chi nei tsang have been around since ancient times. Qigong master and author Chia Man-tak developed it into an integral part of the healing Tao system and introduced it to the west. Chia, now 60, still practices. How does it work? A practitioner rubs the abdominal area in a clockwise motion, gradually intensifying the pressure, while encouraging the client to relax and take deep breaths. A skilled practitioner can apply deep but gentle pressure, using their fingertips to detect imbalances in the liver, spleen and digestive track, and to stimulate chi and help organs detoxify. It's as if your belly is being kneaded like a piece of dough, so it's not your usual pampering spa treatment. Expect a slight tinge of discomfort during the treatment. It's a small price to pay for the feeling of wellbeing and lightness afterwards. What are the benefits? Chi nei tsang addresses all the body's aspects, including digestion, respiration, lymph, nervous, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, skeletomuscular and acupuncture energy systems. It improves the digestive system and eases conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, bloating and constipation, and eliminates toxins from the gastrointestinal tract. It helps boost the immune system and improves sleep. It's also said to help release suppressed emotions by working on a psychosomatic level. How much does it cost? $800 for at least one hour. Where can I have it done? Thienarrom visits Hong Kong quarterly, and practices at the New Age Shop, Central. Her next visit is May 26-Jun 3. Inquiries: 2810 8694. Chi nei tsang is a regular staple at the Chiva Som in Hua Hin and the Tantara Health Spa at the Prathumwan Princess Hotel in Bangkok.