Marma translates to sensitive or vulnerable zones. These pressure points on the body can be used for therapeutic purposes in massage and acupuncture or can be used for lethal and debilitating purposes in martial arts. Marma therapy is used to disperse blockages from our energetic pathways, reduce toxins as well as stimulate the organs each point is linked to. Working on the points can come in the form of simple pressing, puncturing, or vibrating.
As we were learning about specific marma points in my Thai Yoga Massage training, each one of us had to give and receive a massage of just marma points. This was when I understood how powerful they truly are. It was a very brief massage of twelve marma points on the front and back side of the body but I felt amazing afterwards. I was recovering from a severe health issue at the time and after that massage I felt the best I had all year. I was so impressed that a 15-minute massage could be so beneficial that I have taken the time to learn more about the marmas.
Marma points come from Ayurvedic philosophy. Ayurveda translates to the science of life and is focused on making healthy lifestyle choices to keep your body's constitution in balance. That is the lightest description I can give but we can dig deeper into Ayurveda in the future! There are 108 marma points in the body and each one can be used to help provide health benefits with lasting effects. There are 37 in the head and neck, 14 in the back and trunk, 22 in the upper limbs, 12 in the abdomen and thorax, 22 in the upper limbs, and the mind is considered the 108th.
Thai yoga massage works on the energy flow in the body unlike other forms of massage that work on tissues and muscle groups. Each marma point is massaged counterclockwise to unblock energy and then clockwise to restore the flow of Prana. Connecting strokes are made between groups of marma points to restore energy flow. We are only going to focus on a specific marma here so you can get a basic understanding of how pushing on one little point can provide benefits to your health.
Sthapani marma is located between the eye brows and is about the width of your middle finger. If you know about chakras, this is also the point of the sixth chakra called Ajna. This is a very powerful marma point, and thus is considered one of the vital maha-marmani or great energy centers of the body. Working on this point, whether through massage, sound therapy, heat therapy, or with the application of herbal pastes and oils, can assist in the unfolding of intuition and insight, calm the mind, balance the emotions, and improve concentration and memory. Stimulation of this point can also relieve headaches, facilitate optimal functioning of the pituitary and pineal glands, and enhance cerebral circulation. Similar effects can also be produced when one's attention is placed on this point during meditation and yoga practice. Steady concentration at sthapani slows the breath and allows one to witness the flame of inner awareness.
I believe the marmas are magical! I think the marma and sen line work in Thai Yoga Massage is why people leave feeling amazing. Many of my clients comment on how Swedish and deep tissue massage leaves them feeling a little beat up and wiped out afterwards, and how they don't feel that way after my massages even though we do deep tissue work throughout the massage. If you are a practitioner that wants to learn more about the marmas, I strongly recommend the book called "Ayurveda and Marma Therapy" by David Frawley and you can learn the benefits, location, and size of each one.