Yoga and the Magic of Marma Points
After you practice yoga for a while, you begin to realize that you are feeling far more benefits than you would expect from just the physical movements. This is because with the yoga postures, you are also doing breath and energy work. The breath and energy work allow a release of stress above and beyond just exercising.
Yoga can bring physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing.
One of the reasons for these extra benefits is that the postures affect certain energy centers in the body called marma points. According to Ayurveda, the 5000 year old health science associated with yoga, there are 107 marma points in the body. They are located on the body’s energy pathways or nadis. You can think of nadis like little invisible electrical cables running through the body.
If you would like to learn more about the history of marma theory there is a wealth of information at The Chopra Center website:
Why worry about marma points?
Disease can be considered a restriction of energy or Prana along the nadis. When we clear the marma points, we can allow our energy to flow freely, which makes us feel well and helps prevent disease. We allow the energy to flow through our "electrical cables" without restriction.
What kinds of things inhibit the flow of energy in the nadis?
Well, living in our current world there are many things which can disrupt our energy, like:
Eating processed foods
Not getting enough sleep
Lack of time outdoors
How can we use marma points to improve our health?
Vasant Lad is an expert on marma points from the from the Ayurvedic Institute. He describes how marma points work, saying, “Touching a marma point changes the body’s biochemistry …… Stimulation of [marma points] signals the body to produce exactly what it needs, including hormones and neurochemicals that heal the body, mind and consciousness.”
Here is a link to learn more about marma points from the Ayurvedic Institute.
Benefits of marma point therapy
The benefits of this practice are extensive and can include:
Brighter mood and mental clarity
Marma point massage for yourself
The nice thing about marma point therapy is that it doesn’t require any complicated equipment. You can experiment by massaging some of these points on your own body and noticing how you feel.
A perfect point to start with is Talahidraya, which is located at the center of the palm. Massage your palm with the opposite thumb going in a clockwise direction for a few minutes. This point affects the energy circulation throughout the body and energy circulation of the entire body and is helpful for all around health and balance. Notice how you feel after massaging this point. Do you feel more settled and calm?
Below is a list of some of my favorite marma points and how they can support your health. You can experiment with light touch or soft massage on the softer points and a firmer touch on muscular areas. You can also incorporate essential oils with the massage.
1. Amsa – between neck and arms on trapezius muscle on back – controls throat chakra, heat absorption, Udana Vayu (upward movement of Prana), and the brain. Can use some force with thumbs to remove tension from neck
2. Amsaphalak – top of shoulder blades – controls respiratory system, lubrication of joints, energy circulation, 4th and 5th chakras
3. Brihati – between shoulder blades – controls lymphatic system, third chakra, can relieve tension and stress in shoulders, back, and heart
4. Parsvasandhi – waist along side spine – controls second chakra, adrenals, ovaries and digestion
5. Bahvi and Ani(upper arms) and Urvi (inner mid thigh) -controls plasma and water metabolism
6. Indrabasti – middle of calf and mid forearm– controls digestive system, improves digestion and small intestine, use oils like ginger, cinnamon, black pepper
7. Talahridaya – center of palm – energy circulation of the entire body, helpful for all around health and balance, controls respiratory system, heart and lungs
8. Janu – whole knee joint – controls lubrication of the joints and circulation to the legs, right knee controls liver, left knee controls spleen and pancreas and water metabolism
9. Gulpha – below ankle bone – controls fat, bone, and reproductive systems, circulation of prana, lubrication of joints and movement of the feet
10. Talahridaya – Cener of sole of foot – controls first chakra and grounding, earth element, respiration, heat reception in skin, good for reducing vata and strengthening immune system
11. Kurchashira – heel intersection with arch of foot – controls muscular system and good for digestion, improves posture
12. Kurcha – base of ball of foot – controls seeing power of eyes and prana vayu (downward air), good for relieving stress and improving mental acuity
13. Adhipati – Crown of the head – controls 7th chakra, pineal gland, nervous system, vitality,lubrication of brain, thinking power, governing point of the entire body through the brain
14. Sthapani – between the eyebrows – controls the 6th chakra, prana, the mind, pituitary gland, good for controlling the senses
15. Utkshepa – between top of ear and temple – controls vata and the mind, large intestine and sense of smell, light thumb massage calms the mind use oils like sandalwood and basil
16. Shankha – temples – controls sense of touch, Apana Vayu (downward moving air), vata in large intestines, soft circles direct energy to brain and mind, for headaches in this area add ginger oil
17. Krikatika – 2 points base of neck – controls posture, circulation to head, controls subconscious mind, instincts and deep seated emotions
Marma points during yoga classes
During yoga classes, instructors will occasionally offer hands on assists. Sometimes these touches are about more than alignment of the body. They may be focusing on a marma point and helping to restore balance to your energetic system. This can feel wonderful and facilitate stress reduction and healing.
Another way instructors can target marma points is through guided meditation. By bringing your awareness to these points in the body you can restore balance and reduce any constrictions of energy in the area. When you are asked to bring your attention to a certain body part, you may be benefiting a marma point.
So the next time you are practicing yoga, consider how this amazing ancient practice can benefit you on so many levels - physically and energetically.