The Yoga and Integrative Medicine Institute features: What is a Marma point?
A Marma is a dot, secret dot or mystical point on our body. Activating a Marma point opens into the inner pharmacy of the body like a door or pathway and is an important element of Ayurveda’s healing power. Marma work has the ability to heal us at a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Stimulation of these inner pharmacy pathways signals the body to produce exactly what it needs, including hormones and neurochemicals that heal the body, mind and consciousness. This deep dimension of Marma therapy has the potential to unfold spiritual healing. Dr. Vasant Lad states that massaging the Marma points “activates the body’s inner pharmacy, changing the biochemistry, and can unfold radical, alchemical change in one’s makeup.” Discovered in India centuries ago, these energy points profoundly affect the body, mind and spirit and facilitate the deepest levels of healing.
Prana is the current of energy that infuses every cell with reservoir of energy and promotes health. Marmas are points in the body where concentrated life force energy is located. They are part of the chakra, nadi and srota system of Yoga. Ayurvedic massage and marma treatment is focused on releasing energy blocks in the energetic system. Using Ayurvedic oils, Marma points are gently massaged to balance the flow of energy.
Prana and Marmas
Prana moves along channels called nadis and the points on these nadis are called Marmas. So, nadis are the string, and Marma’s are the pearls of the necklace. A Marma is a point of concentrated prana where anatomical structures (muscle, bone, tendon, vessels, ligament, and joints) are also present. Through gently working on Marma points, energy or prana is treated, as opposed to simply working on physical tissues.
Prana must constantly be flowing through our Nadis, or energy channels/meridians. When this prana becomes stuck due to toxins, emotional stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, age, our health suffers and we become ill. Marma points are located along these Nadis, so that when they are activated, they clear any stagnation of prana, and immediately bring healing to that organ or that part of the body. Marma’s literally are control points, where prana can enter and be directed.
Marma therapy is an important tool for preventing and treating imbalances in Ayruveda. Marma therapy balances the vata, pitta and kapha doshas, increases digestive fire, detoxification, reducing ama, promoting energy and rejuvenation. Therapeutic touch is used to treat Marma points. While lying on the massage table, or sitting in a comfortable chair, very gently pressure, like acupressure, is used on the Marma points.
Marma points are switches that when opened up, allow for the increased flow of energy. The primary purpose is to promote the flow of Prana in the body-mind. Through the gentle application of herbs, essential oils and light touch, the Marma points are awakened. One feels an abiding connection in the awakening of their energetic anatomy, their energetic body.
Essential oils and organic herbal oils are the main methods for treating the Marma points and are highly effective in altering our dosha and our energy. Marma’s are anointed with organic therapeutic grade aromatic oils, oils often being specific to each location and condition. As marma’s are concentrated centers of energy, the essential oils can penetrate easily and deeply, affecting the entire body.
Apart from essential oil massage, Marma therapy can include the following techniques to stimulate or pacify:
- Mantra Recitation – Chanting the Goddess mantra to bring in Shakti healing for reproductive tissues. Other mantras may also be used such as Dhanvatari mantra and Ayur mantra.
- Vibration – Sounding a tuning fork or meditation bells over stagnated or blocked Marma’s will stimulate them.
- Crystals & Gemstones – placing these energy conductors on Marma’s to amplify prana coming in; especially good for directing life force into the “Adhipathi” or crown Marma.
- Color & Light – example: directing blue light over an aggravated liver Marma. Red light placed over heart and stomach marmas may increase heart rate and metabolism.
As a healing technique, Marma has been, and continues to be, one of the most revered traditions of Indian healing systems. Similar healing modalities such as acupressure, acupuncture, reflexology, and polarity therapy most likely have their origins in the ancient science of Ayurveda. The famous Ayurvedic doctor, Sushruta, mapped out the location of these vital points thousands of years ago in his texts on surgery. He emphasized the extreme sensitivity of these points that hold our prana, and said that the Marma’s should never be cut during surgery.
Indian martial art masters studied which Marma points could inflict pain or even death to their opponents. On the other hand, they also knew which Marma’s, when pressed correctly, could quickly heal their own injuries.
Marma’s are centers for the vital-force or Prana, the master power behind both physical and psychological processes. Marma’s serve like pranic switches that can be used to turn Prana up or down, on or off at various places on the body. Through manipulation of Marma’s, Prana can be directed to remove blockages, improve energy flow or tap hidden energy reserves and make connections with the greater powers of life and nature. This makes Marma therapy an important tool of ‘energetic’ or pranic healing’.
The condition of Marma’s is an important diagnostic tool in Ayurveda. At Marma sites stress, toxins and negative emotions get lodged and are held, sometimes for years. Disease is reflected in pain, blockage or swelling in these areas even before it may manifest outwardly in the full range of disease symptoms. Ayurvedic practitioners palpate Marmas as an integral part of patient examination and gain much information from them. Relieving pain, blockage or swelling at Marma points is an important therapeutic aid and one of the first stages of many Ayurvedic treatments.
Marma’s are key locations for Ayurvedic bodywork and massage. The Ayurvedic massage therapist will focus on Marma regions that are in need of stimulation or of release and use the appropriate methods to adjust their energy flow. Ayurveda may treat marma’s with pressure, heat, sound, massage oils, herbs or aromatic oils, providing many tools for working with internal energies through them.
The greatest gift we can offer a patient in Ayurveda is the transfer of healing energy – or shaktipat. It happens naturally in some patient’s more than others, but what we can do as practitioners is gracefully train our own energetic systems and learn how to set up the best circumstances for healing. This definitely allows for transference and healing to take place. It is a gift and a blessing to both give and receive an Ayurvedic Massage.
Come along and learn more…
Ayurvedic Massage and Energetic Anatomy with Celia Roberts – A 4-day course to explore Ayurveda, Massage and Marma Therapy. Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th June and Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th July 2017.