I once sat in a workshop where one of the teachers, Dr. Vasant Lad, performed marma therapy on a student who had abdominal pain. The relief on the woman’s face was palpable.
In Ayurveda, marma points are energy localizations in the body used for healing. They occur where the flesh, veins, arteries, tendons, bones, and joints meet. You can also think of marma points as vital concentrations of a body’s life force, energy, or prana.
What is Marma Therapy?
Marma therapy is a traditional Ayurvedic massage technique that’s considered important in self-care and self-healing practices. Marma is both a diagnostic tool and a simple therapeutic measure to balance the doshas and promote health and wellbeing.
Like acupuncture points in traditional Chinese medicine, the marmas are not visible on the outside; they lie within the body. There are 108 marma points—107 on the physical body and one in the mind. Each marma point corresponds to a specific vayu (function of prana), dosha (constitutional type), dhatu (bodily tissue), and srota (physical channel). Stimulation of these points is said to affect everything—from the health of our organs to the production of hormones and more.
Marma Therapy Benefits
Let’s say your lifestyle is relatively healthy. You eat well and make reasonable life choices. However, living in the modern world can be enough to impact the flow of life force or prana entering your body. According to Ayurveda, progressive debilitation of the body is caused by impaired pranic flow. This kind of blockage can result in fatigue, stiffness, memory loss, fragile bones, and sensitive digestion. When prana flows freely from the nadis (pathways or channels) into the marma points, there is health. If, however, the energy becomes stagnant or its flow is disrupted, health is impaired.
How the Shanka Marma Connects to Gut Health
If you’re experiencing digestive issues, massaging the shankha marma is a wonderful way to calm the Pitta dosha, relieve stomach pain, and reduce excess acidity there.
This marma point is located at the temple, slightly behind your eyebrow on each side. “Shankha” translates as “conch,” and so this point derives its name from the temporal bone resembling part of a conch shell. (Click here to see an image showing exactly where the shanka marma is located.)
The left shankha relates to the duodenum, which is the part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach, and also to the section of the large intestine called the descending colon. The right shankha relates to the stomach and ascending colon. The shankha marma points also promote healthy agni (digestive fire).
Engaging the marma points by gentle or deep pressure, depending on the situation, begins “a complex biochemical and neuroelectric impulse,” says Dr. Lad. An experienced marma therapist can perform this facial marma point massage with subtlety and precision. However, you can also try shankha marma massage on yourself.
Marma Point Massage for Digestion
- Sit or lay in a comfortable position.
- Apply a few drops of oil to the hands—brahmi, jatamamsi, or sandalwood essential oils are good for this marma point massage.
- Lightly press the shankha marma points with your middle fingers on both sides of the face.
- Massage each point simultaneously in a clockwise or counterclockwise circular motion for up to five minutes. Use clockwise circles to stimulate energy flow. Use counterclockwise movements to calm and pacify energy and cleanse the marma point.
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Even though the focus of marma point massage is primarily to manipulate prana and help it flow, simple self-care marma routines allow us to deepen the connection with our own bodies and breath, initiating profound healing and inviting deep relaxation. The key to greater health and happiness is, quite literally, at your fingertips.
Anoint your mind and body. Try this Ayurvedic self-massage using a combination of palms and fingertips.