Ayurvedic Body Techniques

Marma Points of Ayurveda

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. 

Sadyah Pranahara Marmani

 

  • 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. 

 

 

Disclaimer
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.

Shriodhara in Infertility

Infertility has been on a steady rise among men and women the last few decades. As an Ayurvedic practitioner,  I work with clients with infertility cases by applying diet and lifestyle practices along with herbal formulas, stress management tools and Ayurvedic herbal body techniques. Since ancient times, Ayurveda has been using one body technique in particular that has had great success in supporting infertility problems. This technique is known as Shirodhara. 

Shirodhara is a simple yet profound technique that works specifically on balancing and stabilizing the nervous system and the activities of the mind. In this application warm specific herbal oils are streamed over the forehead and "third eye''.  Shirodhara is highly effective in normalizing sleep cycles, reducing stress, infertility and is unique in its ability to calm the nerves while at the same time awakening the senses. 

Modern scientists now recognize the relationship between what eastern cultures have referred to as the "third eye" through deeper studies of the brain. In Ayurveda, this region has been identified as the hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal glands situated deep inside the brain. The hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal gland are in charge of the production of most of the hormones in the body, including reproductive hormones. The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) plays an important roe in the health of the reproductive system. This hormone which is secreted from the pituitary gland through the bloodstream, in women, stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles in the ovary before the release of an egg at ovulation. Without sufficient FSH, ovarian follicles may not grow properly and could result in a faulty release of an egg, thus leading to infertility. In men, FSH is required for the proper development of the testes along with sperm production. 

Normal levels of FSH are needed for fertility in both men and women. When it is either too high or too low it will greatly lower the chances of pregnancy. Raised levels of FSH are a sign of malfunction in the ovary and testes, and in a female it may indicate that she is entering into menopause even during fertile years. Diminished secretions of FSH in males can be indication of the testes failure to produce normal numbers of sperm. 

The application of the specific herbal oils on the focal point of the "third eye" stimulate the hypothalamus, pituitary and especially and pineal gland to create the proper communication need better these glands to secrete adequate amounts of hormones including FSH. The hormonal secretions in this region are not only responsible for our reproductive secretions, but it governs the hormones that support our autonomic responses, which include digestion, breath, elimination, etc. These hormones are also deeply responsible for our mood and emotional states. Through the application of shirodhara, one provides harmony between these bodily systems and hormones, thus increasing the chances of fertility and over all wellness. 

 

 

Disclaimer
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.

Why Panchakarma?

In Ayurveda, the state of perfect health and well-being is dependent on the body’s capability to metabolize all facets of life. Because of genetic factors and more commonly lifestyle factors, we have weak areas of our body that accumulate toxins, when unaddressed these become disease. Ayurveda understands, if you want to experience optimal health, it is crucial to maintain a strong digestion and eliminate toxins from the body.

Panchakarma is the purification procedure used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. The word Panchakarma means five actions and refers to five procedures intended to intensively cleanse and restore balance to the body, mind and emotions. It reverses the degenerative process quickly and its effects are often profound and long lasting. Ayurvedic practitioners use Panchakarma as a support to a variety of health imbalances and as a preventative. It can be particularly effective for those imbalances that are chronic, metabolic or stress related.

According to Ayurveda, every human being is unique and it is important to address health care based on the individual. The aim of Ayurveda is to ensure good health for a healthy man and to eliminate the disease of a diseased man. In both cases, Panchakarma detoxification is necessary to cleanse and balance the systems of the body and is highly individualized, based on the needs of the individual depending on the constitution, imbalance, age, digestive strength, immune status, along with many other factors.

Panchakarma therapy is known to clear the various microscopic and macroscopic structures of the body such as the respiratory system, lymphatic system, circulatory system, reproductive system, nervous system, among others that are effected by insufficiently metabolized toxins, processed foods and emotions. It removes free radicals, balances cholesterol and triglycerides, regulates blood pressure, and introduces antioxidant enzymes into the body. It can slow the aging process, enhance vitality and mental clarity and because of it’s capability of stress management,

Panchakarma may even prevent heart attacks, stroke paralysis, and cancer. It’s techniques have shown to create measurable brain wave coherence and to lower metabolic activity, thus allowing the body and mind to drop into a profound level of peacefulness. In this state of relaxation, it is possible to further cleanse toxins from the tissues as well as to release deeply held emotional tensions.

Many Ayurvedic experts believe that even healthy people need regular Panchakarma today because our environment is so polluted. According to research cited by Maharishi Ayurveda, up to 100,000 synthetic chemicals (including PCBs, dioxins, and pesticides like DDT/DDE) are used in modern industrial and agricultural processes. Traces of these chemicals pervade our food, water, air, and even our own bodies, and some are associated with allergies, reproductive disorders, certain types of cancer, and other diseases.

Toxins along with undigested food matter, is known as Ama. Ama clogs the body on all levels and, when left unchecked, it becomes the breeding ground for disease. Ayurvedic medical texts describe ama as cold, heavy, wet and sticky, it develops form environmental toxins and internal toxins generated by poorly assimilated food.

If you have high cholesterol, hardened arteries, tooth tartar, a coated tongue, joint pain, body odor, or excess mucus, you have the physical symptoms of ama. Energetically, it lurks in the system as fatigue. Mentally, ama creates dullness, irritability, and greed. According to Ayurveda, Panchakarma addresses the root causes of disease by removing years of accumulated ama (along with excess Vata, Pitta, and/or Kapha) and supporting your agni.

Traditionally Ayurveda recommends a Panchakarma at the junction between each season to clear out impurities generated during the previous season to help you transition smoothly in to the next. A Panchakarma in the early spring is always a goodbecause it can help reduce your sensitivity to pollen and prevent colds. The job of your Ayurvedic practitioner is to tailor a program to re-balance your body and mind.

Panchakarma is a three-stage process. The preparatory phase begins with en-kindling the digestive fire or agni, and loosing toxins while lubricating the body’s subtle channels with internal and external oleation and sweating techniques. According to Ayurvedic theory, these preparatory procedures liquefy the body’s impurities and push them toward the gastrointestinal tract.

After several days of Purvakarma, the practitioner will choose one or more of the five (pancha) actions (karma) of elimination to rid the body of the ama, this can also last up to several days. Once the elimination procedures are completed, it is very important to restore the body and partake in Rasayana (rejuvenation). These internal and external Rasayana techniques are just as important as the other stages of the Panchakarma, to ensure the body has not only been purified but strengthened,  limiting the possibility of future disease.

Like all medical procedures, Panchakarma must always begin with an initial consultation by a qualified Ayurvedic Physician who can determine the individuals constitution, nature of the health problem if any and the appropriate degree of the intensity of the techniques used in the Panchakarma. Specially trained technicians must administer these procedures in a definite sequence in a specified period of time.

Participation in a clinical Panchakarma requires close supervision by an Ayurvedic expert at all times. If your body is not properly prepared for cleansing, or if your techniques are incorrectly administered, you can overwhelm your nervous system or dislodge more toxins then your body can handle, along with other precautions to consider.

Ayurveda has evolved for other thousands of years, it is important to understand and preform each stage of Panchakarma proficiently with the time and grace according to its traditional practice. Most people want a get quick cleanse, but Panchakarma is gentle, soft and slow, though Panchakarma, Ayurveda is trying to create a gentle deep wave of cleansing, not a tsunami, so it may have long lasting profound effects.

Panchakarma may help with most minor and major illness including:

  • Nervous system disorders
  • Stress, Insomnia, Anxiety
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Sports injuries and Arthritis
  • Frequent Illness
  • Allergies, Asthma
  • Infertility & Sexual Health
  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Drug Detoxification
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Weight Gain or Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Digestive disorders
  • Skin Conditions
  • Psoriasis
  • Auto Immune disorder
  • Candida
  • Joint immobility
  • Arthritis
  • Circulation related imbalances
  • Thyroid Conditions
  • Crohn's Disease & IBS
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Heart Disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Blood Pressure
  • Menopause
  • Emotional Health
  • Senior Health
  • Parasites
  • Depression and Bipolar
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

 

Disclaimer
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.

Dhanwantharam Oil

In Ayurveda, application of oil by means of massage is equivalent to injecting medicines into the body. The massage helps the blood to absorb most of the oil content directly to the blood stream and support overcoming illness. It helps by making the body more flexible, and treats even sports injuries through massage. However, only a qualified person is permitted to perform such a massage, as there are specific methods of applying pressure in each part of the body, and a wrong method can worsen the injury or illness.

Dhanwantharam oil is one of the most popular herbal massage oils, a combination of 28 rare herbs, mostly found in the Indian sub-continent. Dhanwantharam is recommended for all body types, particularly the Vata and Pitta Types. Due to its potent anti-oxidant effect, it rejuvenates the body and skin increasing immunity, and possesses excellent nourishing and anti-inflammatory features. It is used in treating rheumatic and neurological diseases, chronic vata conditions, pre and post natal care, regeneration of skin cells, to improve skin texture, to relieve numb muscles and blocks caused in the body, to improve blood circulation, and to help the skin in getting rid of toxins.

Another Ayurvedic technique that use this lukewarm medicated oil as treatment option for several health conditions including arthritis, spondylitis, nervous disorders, hemiplegia, and sexual weakness, is Pizhichil. The oil is poured over the persons body in a special rhythmic manner by expert for 45 to 60 minutes. It is done as a single day course or a course of 7 to 21 days, depending on health condition of the person. This is also recommended for an otherwise healthy person as a rejuvenation and preventive treatment.

When using on daily basis (other than for treatment purposes), a small amount of oil is poured into a container and heated up to 36-40 degree celsius and is gently massaged into skin. The oil is rubbed off with a clean cloth or a lukewarm shower after an hour. However, the oil should not be applied directly on freshly injured skin, and should be kept strictly out of reach of children.

Ingredients in Dhanwantharam Oil

Some of the main ingredients that go into preparation of Dhanwantharam oil are Cow milk, Wild mallow, Black sesame oil, Madras gram, Indian jujube, Barley, Wild asparagus, Spanish woodbine, Ashwagandha,  Bael tree, Snapdragon tree, Indian madder, Headache tree, Indian trumpet flower, Pseudarthria, Desmodium, Pink jacaranda, Indian sarsaparilla, Himalayan cedar, Puncturevine, Aerva, Solanum, Stone flower, Fenugreek, Sweet flag, Rock salt, Chebulic myrobalan, Indian gooseberry, Beleric myrobalan, Myrrh, Golden gram, Cinnamon, Vigna, Licorice, Cardamom and Indian dill.

Benefits of Ayurvedic Massage

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Ayurveda is an approach to health, wellness, and medicine that originated in India. A traditional form of holistic medicine that utilizes herbs, yoga, nutrition and massage techniques to support symptoms of illnesses and for health maintenance. Ayurvedic massage is an ancient practice enjoyed today in all parts of the world, providing a multitude of benefits to recipients. Understanding the benefits of Ayurvedic massage will offer you another choice when it comes to your long-term approach to health and wellness.

Muscle Relaxation
 It relaxes your muscles and relieves stress and tension at the same time while receiving an Ayurvedic massage. An Ayurvedic massage can help ease tension from the shoulders and neck, eliminating or reducing tension headaches. Those experiencing migraines or pain from joint illnesses, such as rheumatism or other forms of arthritis, also enjoy some pain relief and reduced stiffness after an Ayurvedic massage.

Flexibility
Ayurvedic massage utilizes gentle muscle and joint manipulation heating techniques that help improve range of motion and flexibility through out the whole body. It loosens up stiffness and blockages of tight muscles, ligaments, and tendons.  Individuals diagnosed with back injuries or forms of chronic back pain may also benefit from these massage techniques with the use of herbal oils specific for your condition.

Enhance Joint Function
Ayurvedic massage helps increase the flow of blood and vital nutrients to joints, restoring fluids to areas requiring motion, such as the ankles, knees, hips, and wrists. This is especially valuable for individuals diagnosed with arthritis or those healing from joint injuries or surgery. Ayurvedic massage is also believed to help flood the joints with nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus, all essential minerals vital for the healing of bone fractures, according to Ayushveda.

Increase Circulation
According to the Ayurveda Encyclopedia, Ayurvedic massage improves blood circulation to all areas of the body, and enhances the number of red blood cells and help injured tissues to heal. Increased blood flow also contributes to lower blood pressure and increase the effectiveness of heart function. Ayurvedic massage may also help to increase metabolism by eliminating waste products from the body and enhances the flow of and provides efficient use of lymph fluids through the body. Ayurvedic massage is also known to help relieve symptoms of hypertension in some.

Emotional Relief
Massage helps you relax and offers the pampering that many of us enjoy after a hard week at work, or during stressful situations. In addition to providing relief of tension, Ayurvedic massage offers you a sense of calm as blood and lymph fluids flood through the body, strengthening your mind and immune systems.

Detoxification
Ayurvedic oils massage loosens the deep seated toxins from joints and tissues and releases them into the system to be eliminated. Besides this, this accumulated toxins from the skin are discharged, giving you healthy and clearer skin.

Insomnia
Supporting you to over come fatigue Ayurvedic massage can nourishes and calms the nervous system and promotes undisturbed sleep providing relief of insomnia, resulting in an increase in vigor and vitality for your everyday life.