Healing the Physical & Subtle Bodies
Healing happens on many levels both gross and subtle. We hold the power to heal our bodies with the foods we eat, heal our thoughts with our contemplative practices, and heal our relationships with awareness and conscious action. Medicine comes through many streams, nourishing the journey we walk to live a balanced and healthy life. In Ancient India, the Rishis or seers of the time recognized the range of remedies that support our human experience, and ultimately our path home. One of the healing modalities found in Ayurveda, the Indian “science of life,” is that of Marma Chikitsa – therapeutic healing through subtle energy points in the body.
Marma Therapy is a potent practice of release and renewal on both the physical and energetic planes. Through touch, light pressure or tuning fork vibrations placed on vital energy points of the body known as marmani, one is able to clear blockages and relieve varying manifestations of pain. When classical texts emerged, there was said to be 107 marmani located throughout the entire body, with the 108th marma being the mind. In Vedic ages, marma points were considered bindus, mystical dots on the body. Similar to chakras, our subtle energy centers, marmani hold high concentrations of prana, or life force energy. At times, when we experience physical or emotional suffering, it is linked to blocked flow of prana in a particular place. Grief and loss live in the lungs, worry wears on our hearts, burden sits heavy upon our shoulders, anger and rage rise in the liver, and fear of expression gets caught in our throats…the list goes on. Our emotional baggage is held in our body. With the knowledge of marmani, one is able to revitalize the body, clear the flow of blocked prana, and restore emotional equanimity.
History of Marmani
The Sanskrit word “marma” means a “mortal or vulnerable point.” The science of marmani first emerged in Indian martial art schools, where the knowledge of marma points was used not only for therapeutic healing but also for inflicting injury to opponents. One of the fathers of Ayurveda and renowned surgeon named Sushruta applied this knowledge to surgery, emphasizing the importance of these vital energy centers in medical procedures. Today, marma therapy as bodywork is often incorporated into panchakarma treatments – deep detoxification and rejuvenation cleanses that restore holistic health.
The Benefits of Marma Therapy
Marma points are said to be the gateway between the physical and emotional bodies. From a physical perspective, we find marma points located at sites that are rich with nerves and blood vessels. Through the energetic lens, we see marma points fall along several major nadi, the subtle pathways that carry prana throughout the body as well as chakras. We come to understand that our emotions relate to the fabric of the physical body, and thus the healing benefits of marma therapy permeate body, mind and spirit.
- Calms the nervous system and relieves stress and anxiety, which in turn makes everything in the body function more optimally rather than focus on combating stress
- Restores the autonomic nervous system and balances sympathetic and parasympathetic functioning
- Enhances the mood by releasing endorphins and neurotransmitters such as serotonin and melatonin
- Helps alleviate pain
- Helps bring harmony to doshic imbalances
- Assists in clearing ama or excess toxins from the body
- Improves digestion and absorption
- Increases immunity
- Promotes sleep
Above are only some of the many benefits that may emerge from a marma therapy treatment. Marma therapy is often offered as part of a greater treatment for mind-body healing through Ayurveda, diet & lifestyle, exercise, spiritual practices, and more. Science of marma has evolved over the years and more points on the body have emerged since Sushruta’s original documentation. Today, this science is recognized across different systems of healing, including that of Traditional Chinese Medicine where correlations between marmani and acupressure points have been defined.
We are ever-changing and dynamic in nature. We ebb and flow in and out of balance. Marma therapy is one of many healing modalities that holds the power to transform our journey to health, transcend the layers of our being and ultimately shift our consciousness for a more harmonious life.
Marma Points of Ayurveda, The Energy Pathways for Healing Body, Mind and Consciousness with a Comparison to Traditional Chinese Medicine by Vasant Lad and Anisha Durve