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Marma point therapy is an energy healing practice that emerged within the 5000-year-old Ayurvedic system of healing. It is based upon an elaborate energetic matrix that is commonly believed to have been the foundation for later point therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure, and reflexology. The knowledge of Ayurvedic vital energy points was originally used in a dichotomous manner: Kalaripayattu warriors struck specific marma points to kill opponents while Ayurvedic physicians used other marma points to invoke healing. A marma master, sometimes called an “Aasan” or “Marmani,” had the rare knowledge of how to move or remove prana (life energy) to achieve the desired outcome.
What Is a Marma Point?
What are these points with the power to heal? Marma points are often referred to as the junction points of consciousness and matter. To understand them, a rudimentary knowledge of Ayurvedic energy anatomy is helpful. According to Vedic wisdom, there are 72,000 channels of circulating life force, known as nadis, which flow into the physical body. These rivers of life current quite literally animate and enliven the human body. The points at which prana exits the nadis and enters the physical body are known as marma points. Thus, marma points connect the intangible energetic body to the tangible physical body.
Where Are Marma Points?
There are 108 marma points—107 on the physical body and one in the mind. Physically, the marma points are found where tendons, bones, muscles, joints, veins, nerves, and other tissues meet. Ancient healing physicians mapped out the specific locations of marma points as well as their effects upon various parts of the body. Each marma point corresponds to a specific vayu (function of prana), dosha (constitutional type), dhatu (bodily tissue), and srota (physical channel).
How Marma Points Work
When prana flows freely from the nadis into the marma points, there is health. If, however, the energy becomes stagnant or its flow is disrupted, health is impaired. There are a plethora of common practices that can disturb the natural flow of prana through the marma points:
- Consumption of devitalized food
- Poor sleep habits
- Emotional stress
- Overexposure to sun
- Lack of exercise
- Unnatural lighting
- Insufficient connection to nature
Even if your lifestyle is relatively healthy, simply living in the modern world may be enough to impact the flow of life force entering your body. Many processes that are often associated with aging (fatigue, stiffness, memory loss, fragile bones, sensitive digestion, etc.) are, according to Ayurveda, the result of the progressive devitalization of the body due to impaired pranic flow.
Marma therapy works to clear stagnation in the vital energy points and thus increase vitality within the corresponding body parts. Because marma techniques work at the level of raw prana (prana that has not yet been differentiated into its various functions within the human body), its ability to facilitate physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing is immense. Ayurvedic physician and author Dr. Vasant Lad suggests that flushing energy within the marma points can activate the body’s inner pharmacy, shifting one’s biochemistry and causing the unfoldment of radical, alchemical changes.
Principles of Marma Point Therapy
The Subtlest Layers Hold the Greatest Potential for Healing
In order to work on the musculature, firm pressure is necessary. When moving toxins through the lymphatic system, less pressure is required. In fact, if too much pressure is used, the lymphatic system will be bypassed and the muscles activated. To access the layer of energy, a gentle touch is essential. Energy is akin to a sensitive plant that folds inward in response to a heavy touch. Gentle, light touch is the only way to work on marma points.
The Intention of the Therapist and Client Must Be Aligned
Energy responds to energy. Like attracts like. A powerful thought can evoke corresponding energy in the body. When working on marma points, the powerfully held intentions of therapist and client unite to activate the marma point and direct the inflow of pranic energy. In his book Perfect Health, Dr. Deepak Chopra states that “since mamas are not superficial but penetrate deep into the system, they can be stimulated mentally.”
Marma Therapy Should Be Administered by a Trained Professional
Treatment of the marma points directly influences prana, and thereby, the entire body. It takes years of training and experience to learn not only the marma points and their specific functions, but also how to synthesize that information with specific client needs. As such, marma point therapy should be performed by a licensed Ayurvedic therapist.
Benefits of Marma Point Therapy
Because marma points are essentially “gates” through which the healing, sustaining, and vitalizing life force enters one’s body, their potential for harmonizing all aspects of the physical and mental systems is tremendous. Based on my 20 years of experience as a healing arts practitioner, client reports suggest that marma point therapy may offer the following benefits:
- Enhances immunity
- Clears emotional blockages
- Increases energy level
- Provides pain relief
- Improves digestion, assimilation, and elimination
- Encourages deep, revitalizing sleep
- Increases circulation to the skin
- Amplifies creativity
- Releases trauma
- Expands intuition
- Facilitates the experience of deep peace
- Strengthens internal organs
- Balances doshas
- Slows the aging process
What Can You Expect During a Marma Point Treatment?
There are several methods by which marma points can be stimulated. A trained Ayurvedic therapist will be able to recommend which method will meet your specific needs. Typically, a practice begins with a srota or ahyangha massage to relax the body, apply herb-infused oils to draw out ama (toxicity), and work on specific marma points with circular movements. The direction of the circles—as well as the order the marma points are stimulated—will depend upon one’s dosha and/or intention for treatment. Clockwise circles are used to stimulate energy flow while counter-clockwise movements are used to calm and pacify energy. For general relaxation, counter-clockwise circles are generally suggested. Depending upon individual needs the following components may also be incorporated into a marma massage.
Essential oils contain energy and information from nature. This intelligence communicates with the energy and informational content of each marma point to invoke a specific response. For example, sandalwood oil may be used on the Sthapani marma (the point between the eyebrows) to calm the mind and awaken intuition. Eucalyptus oil may be used on the Kshipra marma (point on the palm between thumb and pointer finger) to help clear respiratory disorders.
Crystals and Gemstones
Crystals are energy conductors which amplify prana as it enters the marma point. Placing energy specific crystals on select marma points can help to increase prana for healing purposes and healing modalities. This is especially beneficial when guiding life current into the Adhipathi (crown) marma or directing it, via intention, to a specific part of the body that needs healing.
Colored lights may be used over marma points to direct incoming prana into a particular function. This can be useful when working to heal localized pain and disease.
Energy is a powerful healer. In fact, Ayurveda suggests that it is the only healer. By accessing and working with prana directly, rather than simply modifying its effects in the body, you can experience new levels of health, vitality, and peace of mind. Once your intentions have been clarified, a marma point treatment can open the floodgates of life force and healing energy to support your whole being in the transformation process!
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.