Reharmonizing the Body’s Built-In Energy Network
Marma Treatments at an Ayurvedic Retreat Center
Courtesy of Shankara Ayurveda Spa
‘Just relax, settle into stillness’ I tell myself as a young elfish woman cradles my head in her tiny hands.
I fidget, slightly uncomfortable, with my body flat on a massage table in a tad-too-warm room with no air-conditioning, no fan, on a hot day in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
As a yoga teacher and Reiki practitioner, I’m comfortable with energy work, but this is my first experience with Marma Therapy — an Ayurvedic treatment seeming to blend acupressure with Reiki and Craniosacral therapy. Yet, it’s older than any of these.
She keeps her hands on my head for what seems like hours—surely it was only a small fraction of the 60-minute treatment. She moves to my temples, ears, neck, and chest. At one point she’s touching my feet, I think, but I’m so relaxed and nearly sleeping I can’t be sure what is taking place to my physical body. However, something is happening to my energetic body, the part of me (of each of us) that moves emotions.
My left leg twitches, my right shoulder falls a bit closer to the table, I clench and release my jaw gently, but without control. My brain is calm—almost no thoughts, at least nothing lasting—yet I feel myself shifting from agitation to excitement and back to calm with each jolt of my leg, and I welcome the softening of physical tension throughout my tight upper back.
At the end of our session, I am aware of my physical body on the table—my mind is present, but peaceful—yet I have no desire, or need, to move.
My Shankara Ayurveda Spa therapist leaves the room giving me space and time to wake as I need to. When she returns, I’m guided into my body and into the present moment. I shift my fingers and toes and deepen my breath—I’m back.
“What is marma therapy?” I asked Medha Garud, Director of Ayurveda Programs at the Shankara Ayurveda Spa in Boone, NC. “Does it work like reiki? Or is it just energy, or what?”
“It’s similar, but so much more,” Medha tells me. “I recommend regular Marma therapy because it’s the single most important treatment for balancing the doshas and bringing greater health.”
So, what is marma therapy really?
The origin is Vedic, with some dating it to 1500 BC. The practice began in southern India along with the Ayurvedic system of medicine (the sister-science of yoga). Marma therapy works by stimulating marma points (specific locations where different types of tissues connect within the physical body), correlating to points within the energetic body or, as the Art of Living Foundation states, “the various points on the body where the subtle life energy becomes matter, where thoughts transfer into the physical.”
Even with one treatment, you may experience shifting of psychological disturbances (thought to be created by an excess of the vata dosha) such as lessened anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Headaches, migraines, muscle and joint pain, digestive problems, and even fatigue may diminish as well, in addition to alleviation of a host of other physical and mental problems.
With repeated treatments, the hope is the full energy system will restore to its innate design. Through this harmonizing process, you’ll have less physical, mental and emotional difficulties and potentially open up, naturally, to higher levels of spiritual awareness.
For me, each marma experience I’ve had since that first treatment high atop Heavenly Mountain has been both physically restorative and emotionally releasing. I feel less tension in my upper body, less anxiety in my mind, and there’s also an energetic shift happening within me — I’m now more peaceful and calm overall.