In every science there are two aspects: the theoretical and the practical (applied). In medicine and the healing professions, it is the day-to-day practical application that rests on a body of knowledge and foundation of solid principles. Marma chikitsa or Ayurvedic marma therapy is an essential hands-on practice of Ayurveda, based on ancient, field tested knowledge. Its benefits and affects are often profound.
Marma chikitsa is the precise action or art of touching an individual in exactly the right place at a critical moment of time, for the purpose of balancing the body's systems and promote healing. The mama points, which are similar to those acupoints of Chinese medicine, are the vital energy point located on the surface of the body. In sanskrit the word marma actually means mortal or vulnerable point, suggesting access to areas that may be tender, weak or sensitive. They are located at anatomical sites where veins, arteries, tendons, bones or joints intersect.
Throughout Ayurvedic history these points have been used to support a communication between cells, serving to maintain their functional activity and coordination. As prana (life-force) flows through the marma points the nadis (panic pathways) within the body, it transmits information, linking healing between the mind and body by facilitating communication between deeper internal organs and tissues. The action of this also has a great response in the mind, helping it calm, leading to increased clarity of perception and more effective communication.
Stimulating a marma in relation to a particular tissue helps maintain its normal functions and addresses a specific imbalance if it is present. As it relates to the doshas, marma chikitsa can either be used to stimulate or pacify a dosha. It can promote a healthy response of the dosha and is used in balancing prakruti and vikruti and supporting to restore it to its natural state. Often these points are used as a mechanism of pain relief. Pain is generated by an impeded flow of prana resulting from tension and stagnation in the body. Mama chikitsa alleviates this pain by stimulating the flow of prana to the area, pacifying the accumulated dosha.
There are 117 primary marma points that are classified according to location, elemental associations, dosas, dhatu, mala, corresponding organs, srotamsi and degrees of vitality. The vitality of marma is intimately related to ojas, tejas and prana, because they are the basic support of the vital essence of life. Marma chikitsa is rarely used alone as a practice, it is utilized as a part of a comprehensive, multi-faceted program treatment program. It is important that the Ayurvedic practitioner has a broad and in-depth understanding of etiology, symptomatology and the stages of pathogenesis as well as a sensitivity and skill in Ayurvedic diagnosis in order to design and integrated approach of marma chikitsa. However, it can be used effectively for immediate pain relief, long term pain management and for first aid. Though using mama therapy in these conditions may not eradicate the pathogenesis completely, it can give temporary symptomatic relief that may prevent serious complications from arising.
Marma locations are in accordance to their region of the body and their relationship to the internal and external features of the doshas and their sub-doshas. Sushruta, an expert surgeon of Ayurveda, describes mamas according to the six major parts of the body: the four extremities, trunk, head and neck. He also divides the points in reference to the five Ayurvedic principals of the body's physical structures: mamsa (muscles), sira (veins), snayu (ligaments), asthi (bone) and sandhi (joints).
The marmas located on the scalp are immediately connected to the brain and distally to the other organs as well. On the chest and upper back, the points are connected with the heart and lungs. On the lower back, the points are connected with the kidneys, stomach, the digestive organs and so forth. Each of the five elements of Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth is also associated with a particular region of the body. Each mama located in these regions activates the energy of its associated element.
The language of the doshas is absolutely key in understanding the Ayurvedic view point of health and disease. Knowing how energy points affect the dosha is crucial to achieving excellent therapeutic results. In this, mamas are also classified according to the seat of a dosha. For example, chest and lung marma points stimulate Kapha, umbilical points affect Pitta, and colon points will influence Vata.
There are eight great marma points that are essential to life. These are considered to have the most vitality of all the points. Sushruta also described how injuries at these marma points, whether superficial or deep, can disrupt the panic energy, flow and decrease vitality. These points are known as the Sadyah Pranahara Marmani: Murdhani (crown), Brahmarandhara (anterior to crown), Shivarandhra (posterior to crown), Ajna (third eye), Shanka (right and left temple), Hrdayam (heart), Nabhi (umbilicus), Guda (anus). There are so five extra vital points that can cause death or serious injury when traumatized: Kantha, Griva, Basti, Vrushana, and Yoni Jihva.
- Anja to benefit the eyes and nose, regulate hormones, and function of pituitary.
- Shivarandhra to stimulate memory, calm the mind and balance emotions.
- Hridayam to enhance the energy of love to the heart.
- Nabhi to directly enkindle the gastrointestinal agni.
- Murdhani to enhance cerebral circulation and circulation of the cerebral spinal fluid.
- Brahmarandhra to relieve headache and facilitate optimal pituitary gland functions.
- Shankha to strongly pacify pitta, relieve stomach pain and decrease acidity, influence speech.
- Griva to enhance circulation of plasma and lymphatic fluid, benefit the throat and thyroid.
- Guda to balance over strength, vitality and to be grounded.
In general, stimulating the mama enhances the flow of prana locally and for mild and shorter condition, mama therapy alone can be quite effective. As the complexity of a disease increases, other Ayurvedic therapies become essential. These may include herbal or dietary recommendations, panchakarma, and exercise and lifestyle changes.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.