Utilize this gentle, soothing Ayurvedic practice when you need an afternoon pick-me-up, or when you’re experiencing stressful situations.
Towards the end of May 2023, we brought my father back home from the hospital, knowing he was at the end of his life. The doctors said there was nothing more they could do; my father wanted to spend his last few days on this planet at home, surrounded by his family. It was humane that he wasn’t hooked up to dozens of machines in the ICU. But his pain and discomfort were persistent.
To help alleviate the pain, I would choose certain points on Dad’s body and give him a marma massage for about 30 minutes. Marma points are energy points in the body used for healing in Ayurveda and can be stimulated with gentle touch. For nights when he couldn’t sleep, a light stimulation of the marma points on his scalp, applied in counterclockwise circles, would lower his anxiety. One night, my dad kissed my hand after I had completed a marma chikitsa (marma therapy) session for him. The relief on his face was palpable.
The Power of Marma Massage
Ayurveda teaches that all diseases stem from an alteration of the flow of prana (life energy). The goal of marma chikitsa is to restore the proper flow of energy. Prana may flow in excess, or it may become deficient. Prana can also become blocked. Marma chikitsa helps remove stagnant lymph and is supposed to enhance the efficiency of the body’s organs. Marma therapy also relieves stiffness in the muscles and boosts circulation. Ayurveda reminds us that the body, when given a chance, can heal itself. Marma therapy maximizes that potential.
During the day, when I felt tired but needed to be present for my father, I would massage certain points on my own face and chest to lower stress and re-energize myself. I even applied gentle pressure to the hridaya marma on my heart to alleviate some of my sorrow and grief. This point remained tender for a month even after my father passed away. But the pain is less now when I stimulate it. That’s how powerful marma therapy can be— it builds physical and psychological strength.
What Is Marma Massage Like?
Marma points are found where the veins (sira), ligaments (snayu), muscles (mamsa), bones (asthi), joints (sandhi), and other tissues meet. In total, there are 107 marma points on the physical body and one in the mind. They each have a name in Sanskrit and a particular purpose. Marmas are traditionally measured in anguli, or finger units. It’s believed that marma is the origin of reflexology, acupressure, and acupuncture.
Dr. Vasant Lad, an Ayurvedic physician, author, and one of my teachers, suggests that flushing energy within the marma points can activate the body’s inner pharmacy, shifting one’s biochemistry and causing the unfolding of radical, alchemical changes.
The Benefits of Marma Massage
Relieves chronic pain
Detoxifies the body
Promotes glowing skin
Balances the three doshas
Aids in digestion and elimination
Clears emotional blockages
Increases blood circulation
Marma therapy isn’t magic; the stimulation of marma points simply gets prana flowing. Marma therapy can be an incredible, reliable self-healing and self-care tool.
A good starting point for marma massage would be facial marma massage. Let’s be honest: Who doesn’t enjoy a radiant face and a few compliments? I even use it when I’m tired or sleepy instead of getting an afternoon fix of coffee or chai.
A few of my favorite points on the face are Kapala Marma (located in the middle of the forehead at the hairline), Ajna Marma (in the midline of the forehead, one angula above the nasa mula), Nasa Mula Marma (located between the eyebrows), Hanu Marma (in the middle of the chin), and Oshtha Marma (at the middle of the upper lip, underneath the nose). I massage them on a daily basis after applying facial oil. The direction of the circles, the order of stimulation (which point first) and amount of pressure applied depends on the individual’s dosha as well as their reason for the marma chikitsa.
It’s always helpful to consult with an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner before experimenting with massaging marma points on your face. They can guide you in creating the best practice for you. Eventually, you can begin to include marma massage as part of your daily self-care routine.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are nursing, taking medications, or have a medical condition, please consult with your healthcare practitioner prior to the use of any of these herbs. If you are looking for advice from a trained yogi and Ayurvedic practitioner, contact Sweta here.
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