This is one of the most secretive part of Ayurved. There are very few texts and very few of them are in public domain. There are a few Vaidya /Ayurved-acharya (Ayurvedic doctors) families in South India (mainly Tamil nadu and Kerala) and some ancient brahmin families in Uttarakhand, who have these books and techniques as family secrets. Some of these books are ancient, still on birch-wood/Bhoj-patra. The ancient Rishi-s who have written on this topic are Sushurt, Vaagbhatt and Agastya.
Marma मर्मन् is a Sanskrit word meaning, articulation, weak point, hidden weakness, sensitive spot, quick acting, vital organ, hidden, anything that requires protection and needs to be concealed. There are 108 Marma points in the human body. 108 is the ‘magic’ number of Sanatan Dharma/Hinduism!
There are a quite few Marma-chikitsa centers who offer therapy on the Marma points for deep healing, inner healing, removal of blocks etc. Be careful about these centers. Marma chikitsa, ie medical treatment using the Marma points, is a very useful and highly effective way to cure several incurable body/ mind conditions. If you are sure about the credentials of your Marma chikitsa center, (you can check out where the Vaidya-s have learnt it, check past patients experiences), then you should get a therapy done. It will help immensely, it is rather like magic sometimes! They use targeted pressure using massage and specific combinations of ayurvedic oils to manipulate the Marma points. It is a very precise science, not intuition, so be careful of ‘intuitive healers’ and such. If you are not sure about the credentials of the Vaidya-s, then it is advisable to not mess with your Marma points.
These Marma points are the vulnerable points of your body. Of the 108 points, 64 are highly vulnerable, getting hit/ cut here can cause death. There are knots of naadis which carry vital energy/pran, located under these Marma points, thus their extreme sensitivity. Indian fighting techniques like Kalari (which still survives in Southern India), Marma points are used to kill. Knowledge of Marma is integral to the science of the Living Ayurved and the science of War Dhanurvidya, both.
Marma points are of 6 types depending on which parts of the body they ‘join’.
- Mamsa मांस marma – where muscles join
- Asthi अस्ति marma – where bones join
- Snyau स्नायु marma – tendons join here
- Dhamni धमनि marma – where arteries join
- Shira सिरा marma – where veins join
- Sandhi सन्धि marma – where the major limbs of the body join
The size of a Marma point can be variable. Some are the size of a grain of rice, while some are the size of your palm. Even if you get hit on a Marma point it causes excruciating pain as the pran/ vital energy movement in the naadi is affected severely. The three elements of the body, the tri-dosh, vaat, kapha, pitta go out of balance and the body /mind goes into shock. There may be excessive bleeding or even no bleeding as basically the naadi-s are damaged. The flow of the pran (all five types of pran), in the whole body is disturbed. This is very dangerous. Being hit on some points will be instantly fatal, some will cause crippling effects and some will cause injury, all will hurt. In some marma points, if the hurt is caused by a weapon, removal of the stuck weapon will cause death. Again, Marmas were used to kill and heal, both.
Writing in details is not possible in this post, and I am not a Vaidya. (If you are seriously unwell then you need to get medical help from a proper professional). Here are some tips on small but significant things you can do at home for your own healing using the concepts of Marma. And also remember to protect these body parts from being hit/injured.
The most important Marma point of the body is the navel. The center of your entire body. A direct hit here can be fatal. Be very careful of your navel. Put a few drops of warm coconut oil in your navel every night, very gently massage this area. Do it for 21 days and see for yourself.
(Make sure you use only edible coconut oil for all this gentle massage stuff at home. It should be clearly marked ‘edible’. No mixed oils, no mineral oils, no chemical ingredients. Massage means a very gentle rubbing, no heavy pressure. Regular gentle circular motions, that is it. These are highly sensitive points.)
The center of the forehead, the location of your third eye chakra. I still remember when in school someone clicked their fingers on my forehead. I literally saw stars and breathing was disturbed. Don’t let anyone hit you here. Don’t even let random people touch you here! Some people have this habit of hitting their forehead when they forget/remember something. Get rid of this habit, it disturbs the entire Ida/ Pingala/ Sushumna system.
Then on the head are more points. The top of the head is extremely sensitive. You can try this tiny marma chikitsa yourself, take 1-2 tablespoons of warm coconut oil and do a self massage. Very gently with your whole palm, rub the top of your head. It takes about 15mins for this much oil to be absorbed into this point. More oil the better. Highly beneficial, do it at least once a week regularly. Overall energy will increase, sense of hearing, smell sight etc will improve. (Or you can ask your family member to do it for you). Hair will also improve as a side-benefit!
Then is the mid point between the edge of the eyes and the ears, a slight hollow in the skull, both sides. If you get a headache or feel stressed out, you can gently rub these points to get relief. You must be doing this already.
The throat, the center hollow in the front and the two sides of the throat. (As a kid, I remember getting hit by a brother on the center hollow, I remember breathing but no pran flowing, then blacking out). Vishuddhi chakra with its Rudra granthi, very sensitive. One should always be careful of the head, throat and the spine/back.
Then on the shoulder, the point where the bones of the arm and collarbone meet in a complicated joint. The arm-pits are also quite sensitive. Also the points where the legs join the body, the inner hollow.
The entire fleshy palm and sole are sensitive areas, especially the center of the palm/sole. The webbing between your thumb and first finger is linked to your head. The next time you have a headache, try very gently pressing this web. (This is a snyau marma point and is also in the foot). As is the center of the wrist on the inner side. Your entire body is connected to your wrists and palms, also ankles and feet. It feels relaxing to get a foot oil massage just for this reason. You can get the same benefit by taking warm coconut oil in your palms and gently rubbing them together, applying gentle pressure, wrist upwards for 15 mins. And you can ask a family member to do the same gentle rubbing with coconut oil for your feet. (And you can return the favour later!).
The midpoint of your forearm and the midpoint of your upper arm. And the midpoint of the fleshy part of your calf and midpoint of the inner sides of the thighs in your legs. You must have noticed that calves ache when you are tired, it is not muscle pain, it is this pran movement issue. If you gently rub the marma point with oil as above, it will feel better quickly.
The tip of the knee and the elbow. I am sure we all have banged our elbows and frozen in pain. Well, the excruciating pain is because it is a Marma point.
Then the chest, on the diaphragm, the central point, where the abdomen and chest join. Here lies the Anahata chakra. On the chest, the entire aureole areas. Then lower is the Manipur chakra, this is the center of your waist above the navel linked to the solar plexus. The point of Swadhisthan chakra, midway between your navel and lower end of the abdomen, this is linked to the kidneys and urinary bladder. The Muladhar chakra ie the physical anus and the reproductive organs. These last are quite sensitive areas from the nadi/ pran flow point of view, if there is a cut here, it can be fatal.
On the back, personally, I feel the entire back is sensitive as the Ida/ Pingala/ Sushumna run sort of ‘below’ the backbone. Damage to the backbone area and a couple of inches on either side of it will affect pran flow in these three main nadis.
If you want to increase the efficacy of your self-massage try these simple things
- If you know Reiki, or any other healing energy modality, reiki your oil hands to trigger the healing energies.
- If you have learnt to make a Chi-ball, make it and put on in your oil bottle, with all intention of healing and perfect health.
- Draw a healing rune on the oil bottle.
- Pray to Danvantari, the form of Shri Vishnu who is the deity of Ayurved. Recite his mantra once or just think of him with gratitude and request his help.
- Or call on your source of faith, request help from your Higher Self.
- Play your favourite Sanskrit Shlok/ Mantra/ Stotra in the background. Intend that this healing energy enters the oil and your body.
- Sit in the early morning Sun while doing this. Skin and oil together in the early morning Sun will give you your daily Vitamin D supplement.
- If you feel drawn to any flower in the Bach flower system, use its energies in your healing process.
- Know that this will work because you are doing it for yourself.
Try some of these small things from Marma if they appeal to you. If you do them regularly with positive intentions you will help your own body and mind and be happier and healthier.