Marma points are sensitive anatomical points located around the body that Prana (life energy) travels through. Marma means a secret or hidden place. These points are at junctions of flesh, joints, veins, arteries, tendons and bones. There are 107 marma points with the skin being considered the 108th. First mentioned in the Artharva Veda they are detailed in the work of the Ayurvedic surgeon Sushruta. The knowledge of marma points was an essential part of a surgeon’s training as an injury to these points can cause injury, disability or, in some cases, death. The marma points, which if injured, will damage us are listed according to their effect.
Sadyaha Pranahara is the name of the nine marma points that will cause instant death if injured. Kalantara Pranaha marmas will cause death in time; Vishalyaghnakara will cause death if hit by a projectile; Rujakara will cause pain and Vikalatvakara disability.
Examples of a death if hit by a projectile marma is Sthapani marma in the centre of the eyebrows. (How David killed Goliath). Talahridaya marma will cause a slow death if injured. It is the centre of the palms and feet; crucifixion would pierce these marma points. It would not be thought wise by Ayurveda to have body piercings carried out without a full knowledge of the marma points.
So marma points would be known by warriors and surgeons as an essential knowledge of their art. Let us move now to the healing benefits of the marma.
The marma points are classified according to their location, tissue composition, treatment effects and effects if they are injured.
The 107 marma points are distributed through the body in the following way; 37 in the head and neck, 14 in the back and trunk, 22 in the upper limbs, 12 in the abdomen and thorax and 22 in the upper limbs. The head has the most marma points hence the popularity of Indian Head Massage. Ayurveda has a method of non-surgical facelift which is a series of treatments where a special sequence of marma therapy and face massage is carried out. Not only the skin but the senses are rejuvenated by this wonderful method. It can treat tinnitus, sinusitis, and migraine
Ayurveda treats these points to balance the energy flow in the body and heal disease. They can be treated by massage, herbs and aromatherapy. There is also an Ayurvedic system of acupuncture. One method of treatment that Ayurveda uses is called a basti, a specialised warm oil treatment applied to specific locations on the body. A Kati Basti is a treatment given to the low back to treat acute and chronic pain, nerve disorders and sciatica. Hridaya Basti is administered to the heart to relieve nervousness, anxiety and fear.
A massage therapy for the whole body is called Marma Abhyanga. All the main Marma points in the body are included and this treatment balances the circulatory, immune and nervous systems. It has a revitalising effect.
Ayurvedic massage works on the energy flow in the body unlike other forms of massage that work on tissues and muscle groups. There is no equivalent of deep tissue massage in Ayurveda as it is not helpful to put excessive pressure on marma points.
Each marma point is massaged anticlockwise to unblock energy and then clockwise to restore the flow of Prana. Connecting strokes are made between groups of marma points to restore energy flow.
The whole body can be massaged or sections of the body and their marma points. There are sequences for foot and leg, head, hand and arm, back and abdomen. The treatment is selected according to the patients requirements arrived at by diagnosis.