By Revathi Raghavan | Posted: March 29, 2019
Ayurveda isn’t just doshas and diets! It’s an entire system of health and wellness that includes many different treatments, such as the restorative and energizing practice of marma.
Marma refers to pressure points identified in the Ayurvedic tradition that have incredible power to unlock your body’s potential. These points carry both energetic and physical qualities. When you undergo a marma treatment, your marma points are gently stimulated to awaken your body and its natural ability to heal itself, bringing you an overwhelming sense of peace and wellness.
What is Marma?
The word Marma literally means mortal, sensitive or vulnerable. The term comes from the Suchi Veda, a part of Ayurveda, and it said to have origins in the martial arts and used on the battlefield to defeat enemies. Another theory is that it originated from Dhanur Veda, one of the four “Upavedas”, along with Ayurveda, Gandharva Veda (music) and Staapatya Veda (Vastu). Warriors wore protective armor to guard their vital points.
Marma points are hidden, secret and vital. Hidden because you can’t see them; they are both inside and on the surface of the body. They’re anatomically thought of to be present at the junction of muscles, ligaments, bones, joints, tendons, and nerves. They’re sort of between mind and matter – that’s why they’re hidden. These points are also full of prana, or consciousness, which is why we refer to them as vital. It was also kept a secret so that it is not misused – the knowledge was guarded and passed on mainly within families or through a teacher-disciple relationship.
Sometimes we hear stories of people who are in accidents, and who may not have sustained any external injuries, but they die. Often, it’s because their vital marma points have been hit. There are points that can cause death or injury. When the same points are used therapeutically they bring enormous healing benefits.
According to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, marma is one of the most restorative therapies. The practice of Marma, or Marma Chikitsa, is through gentle pressure or stimulation or stimulation of these vital points. This releases any stresses or blocks held in the Nadis for a long time and allows for free flow of prana or energy, thereby bringing deep relaxation and rejuvenation. It is one of the most direct ways of harmonizing prana in an individual. I like to think of Marma Vidya (Science of Marma) as the grandfather of acupressure.
What are the benefits of marma?
The practice of marma has benefits on the body, mind and spirit. On the bodily level, it brings about hydration, nourishment, hormonal balance, pain relief, balances doshas, revitalizes organs, balances digestion and elimination, relaxes muscles and is generally cleansing. On the mind level, marma strengthens, balances the Gunas, helps the mind be more in the present moment, improves perception, understanding and communication. Of course, it helps us clear emotions and release stresses and achieve a deep state of relaxation. It also helps clear out any fogginess thus bringing clarity.
We live in a very stimulated environment today. People are constantly engaging their senses and there is enormous pressure to be someone and achieve something. There is also an overuse and misuse of our senses and we end up spending countless hours on television, ipads, kindles, laptops, and you-name-it gadgets. Everyone has goals, naturally, but there is so much pressure, hurried movement and competition that we’ve begun to live in this “Vata” aggravated environment. Marma gives us a break from all of this and helps release some of the stresses brought on by the overuse/misuse of the senses.
What can I expect from marma?
It’s amazing to see how marma affects people. Even just doing a few points, people go into such a deep state of rest or relaxation. It’s wonderful to see the stress and tension just melt away. People have reported and shared the healing of all kinds. They are able to sleep better at night, let go of anxiety, relief from body aches/pain, rest as like they have never gotten in years, also have a deep meditative experience. Marma is safe for all ages and groups of people. It is beneficial for post-shock and trauma, illnesses (including cancer), injury, surgery, anxiety, insomnia and many other conditions.
It’s important for the practitioner to be on a regular sadhana practice, so that they’re stress-free and centered themselves. Giving someone an experience of marma is a very meditative experience, and both the practitioner and the recipient tend to achieve a profound state of meditation, and a deep sense of intimacy and oneness with each other and the universe.
Marma can be a wonderful complementary treatment to undertake while you’re exploring Ayurveda. After all, Ayurveda is all about achieving a state of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual harmony! Your body carries within it infinite wisdom and capability, and with marma therapy, you can tap into the bliss of harmonious life.
This article was adapted from an interview by the Art of Living Retreat Center.
Revathi Raghavan is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and specialist in Marma Chikitsa. She combines her professional background in Ayurveda with yoga practices to help clients feel stress-free, healthy and radiantly beautiful from the inside out.