One of the most important pillars of Ayurvedic therapies is Marma Chikitsa. Marma therapy includes the pressure points of the body, 107 points total, that are located on the head, face, arms, chest, legs, and torso. The 108th point is the mind or consciousness. These points of pressure are connected to the 72,000 nadis, or channels within the body, as well as the chakras. These channels are biochemical systems that link organ systems, ensuring harmonious functioning, and optimal health.
When there is an imbalance or dis-ease in the body, these marma points will become sensitive, or tender. The pressing, or activation, helps to release blocked energy and initializes healing through the blocked channel.
A similar practice is actually found in Chinese medicine, where the blocked energies are referred to as chi, and the points are referred to in acupuncture or acupressure. Acupuncture utilizes needles for an intensified clearing, whereas acupressure uses the fingers for pressure, making it more similar to marma therapy.
(If you look up many healing methods in Chinese medicine, often they will link with Ayurveda, as the systems were both developed thousands of years ago. There are even rumors that the founders of Chinese medicine and Ayurveda would trade secrets during their practices!)
Benefits of Marma Therapy
Abhyanga has been used for thousands of years as an important point of healing and detoxification in Ayurveda. Marma therapy helps expand on the therapies of abhyanga with its critical pressure points to help in healing digestion, nervous system disorders, as well as migraines, hormonal imbalances, and of course, muscle aches and pains.
Some of the most notable benefits of marma therapy include:
- Aides in the detoxification of the body and organ systems
- Helps encourage better sleep patterns by balancing circadian rhythm and stimulating the release of melatonin
- Works to clear energetic blocks of the channels of the body and mind
- Promotes cellular renewal and regeneration
- Helps prana travel into the deeper tissues and systems
- Improves digestion
- Creates healthier skin
- Releases serotonin and endorphins to help improve mood and mental well-being
Marma Chikitsa not only works to balance the health of the body, but it works on the healing of the consciousness as well. Marma therapy also includes healing with gemstones, mantras, colors, meditation, and yoga. It is an encompassing historical method of healing that was even powerful enough for ancient Vedic warriors when battling.
Vedic warriors were well-trained in marmani, and could administer deadly blows to their opponents when in battle. The great rishi and physician Sushruta, helped to identify the points more precisely to be used specifically for healing and to help increase life force energy. Fortunately, in the modern-day, marma therapy has been more exacted in Ayurveda to be specifically helpful in therapies and healing!
Marma for Facial Massage
Administering self-massage is an effective and holistic way to promote the healing of the body and mind. Starting with oneself helps to set the groundwork for a more balanced way of life, which can then be helpful and healing for others around you.
This introduction of how to massage your face while incorporating marma points can help you feel more relaxed, promote collagen production of the skin (making the skin more supple and soft), help decrease the depth of fine lines and wrinkles, relieve the tension of the face and neck, and promote clarity of the mind:
- Start by selecting a dosha-specific oil; sesame or sunflower oil for Vata or Kapha, and coconut oil for Pitta. You can also add 1 drop of essential oil of your choice once you have chosen your oil.
- Apply a few drops of oil to the hands, making sure there is sufficient slip and plenty of oil for the face and neck.
- Rub the hands together to warm the oil in your hands. Start by applying the oil all over the face and neck, moving the hands in slow, methodical strokes.
- Follow the jawline and move in slow strokes from the chin to the ear. Repeat on each side 5 times.
- Move along the cheeks and cheekbones. Starting by the side of the lip, and the sides of the nose, and with long, flowing strokes of the fingers, move up towards the ears and temples, ending there. Repeat 5 times on each side of the face.
- At the forehead, place your fingers at your third-eye, and move in upward, flowing strokes towards the hairline. Repeat each movement you make 5 times.
- For the neck, start at the collarbone and move in long, flowing strokes up towards the jawline and chin. Be careful not to put too much pressure into the neck. Repeat each movement 5 times.
- After you have warmed the skin with oil, use your middle or ring finger to push on these specific marma points of the face for about 5 seconds. Once you release the point, shake out your hands to release the stagnated energy:
- Phana Marma – Located at the outer pocket just to the side of each nostril, this marma point helps to release tension related to the sinuses, decreases headache symptoms, increases the flow of prana, and activates the sense of smell.
- Urdhwa Astha Marma – This marma point is located in the corner of the lips, and helps to relax the jaw, increase energy in speech and expression, and triggers the renewal of cells to create more luminous and clear skin.
- Avarta Marma – Located just above the center of each eyebrow, there is a small depression where you can trigger the marma. This is an important marma related to sight and perception, and the pressure of this marma point helps with sight, clarity, and helps reduce tension. It can also help with decreasing migraines.
- Shankha Marma – Located at the bony area of the temple, this marma point was once used by Vedic warriors to administer harmful blows to their opponents! Shankha marma is a powerful point and when pressed, can promote equally powerful therapeutic effects. It promotes increased Agni (digestive fire), calms Pitta dosha, reduces the acidity of the stomach and digestive tract, reduces stress, and relieves pain associated with headaches.
- Madhya Marma – Located in the depression between the nose and chin, this marma point aides in relieving tension associated with TMJD, helps promote glowing skin, creates clarity in speech, and increases prana in the lungs.
- Ajna (Sthapani) Marma – Located directly above the 3rd eye, this powerful marma point helps decrease headaches, promoting clear speech and communication, stimulates the memory, improves concentration, and calms the mind.
- Osthma Marma – This marma point is great if you feel lightheaded or dizzy, and helps to reduce vertigo symptoms. It is also effective in improving awareness, strengthening Agni, and helps to clear the complexion.
Marma therapy is a branch of the Ayurvedic sciences that can promote healing and help with toning and regeneration of the mind, body, and spirit. Using it as a tool for self-healing is recommended as a daily ritual. You can also look into scheduling a session with your Ayurvedic Physician or Ayurvedic Practitioner for a more in-depth healing session with marma therapy.
Ceanna Saatsaz is a Licensed Master Esthetician, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, and Certified Professional Herbalist from Seattle, WA.