Marma are the vital areas of the body. The word Marma comes from Sanskrit origin word ‘mri’ meaning death. The Sanskrit phrase, ‘Marayate Iti Marmani’, also means death or serious damage to body or health after infliction to the point of their situation . Hence these areas are called Marma. In siddha system of medicine they are called Varma.
Marma in Sanskrit means hidden or secret. By definition, a Marma point is a junction on body where two or more types of tissue meet, such as muscles, veins, ligaments, bones or joints.
During ancient times, knowledge of Marma was known to kings and warriors. It was applied in battle fields to hit and achieve maximum lethal effect on enemies. This science was used both in warfare and surgery. From common ailments to serious neuromuscular diseases, all can be treated by Marma therapy.
Common ailments like headache, bodyache, faulty spinal alignment, pain in the joints can be rejuvenated through Marma Chikitsa, which involves Swedana, Abhayanga, Pizhichil, and Kizhi (bolus) treatment. Kizhi treatment is a therapy wherein herbs are slightly fried, wrapped in muslin cloth and tied to make a bolus, heated in medicinal oils in a frying pan and placed on the area to be treated. This is followed by specific massage using fingers, heel or palm. The pressure application varies according to the nature of ailment and the point of application.
Sushruta Samhita describes 107 Marma points in body. In Tamil traditions, 108 Marma points are enumarated, and in Kalari tradition of kerala 365 Marma points are in practice. Major marma points correspond to seven Chakras, or energy centers of the body, while minor points radiate out along the trunk and limbs. The points cover both the front and back of the body, including 22 on the lower extremities, 22 on the arms, 12 on the chest and stomach, 14 on the back, and 37 on the head and neck. (The mind is considered the 108th Marma.) Each has its own name based on their anatomical position.
The human body, needs shodhana(revitalisation) in order to perform its function normally and efficiently. In Ayurvedic system, especially in kerala, Marma massage is performed as a routine in preventive medicine. A professional therapist isolates Marma points and tone them by increasing blood flow to affected part of the neuro-muscular junction. They also aim to tone the surrounding muscles.
History of Marma Massage
Marma-point massage dates back to southern India year 1500 BC. Masters of kalari, an ancient martial art, first discovered the power of Marma points. In battle, kalari fighters targeted an opponent's Marma point as a way to inflict pain and injury. According to kalari lore, people have 12 Marma points that, when hit with a knockout blow, can cause instant death. These areas were so important that soldiers even used armour to protect their horses' Marma points while riding into battle.
Wounded kalari fighters were nursed back to health with Marma therapy. Practitioners used Marma-point massage to stimulate healing in areas that corresponded to the injuries. For blow to intestines, for example, the Marma point on the back of calf, which correspond with the transverse part of large intestine, is massaged to trigger flow of energy to induce healing. Ayurvedic physicians, all over India learnt the importance of this art and hired kalari masters in hospitals to teach . Soon, Marma-point training became mandatory for surgeons, who worked around specific points to prevent risk to life. Today marma-point massage is still a respected component of Ayurvedic healing.
Classification of Marma
A Gist of Certain Individual Marmas used in treating diseases
Five Basic Catagories of Marma Points
Tradditional Marma Recognises three categories
ROLE OF MARMA
There are four basic purposes of Marma:
Therapeutic value of Marma
Marma is beneficial for many conditions, including the following:
Diseases Curable & Manageable By Marma Chikitsa
To name a few diseases in which Marma chikitsa is highly appreciated in giving cure are :
Marma Chikitsa is an important aspect of Ayurvedic treatment where the application of pressure on these Marma points induces the flow of vital energy (prana) along a complex system of subtle channels called (nadis). Based on the knowledge enumerated in Dhanurveda ( dealing with knowledge of bow and arrow fights), 107 therapeutic Marma points are recognised by Ayurveda. The injury to some of these lethal Marma points can lead to instant death. Massage is widely applied in the treatment of Marmas.
Marma Massage Today
In summary, stimulating or massaging Marma points give benefits to the area of their location and improves the function of the connecting organs. The Marma massage is approximately of 60 to 90 minutes of duration, followed by steam bath or warm shower. Given above is only a brief outline of Marma massage . Ideally, Marma massage should be performed by experienced therapists, in consultation of a qualified ayurvedic physician. The Marma massage can be used as a part of a rejuvenation therapy or it could be used as preventive measure from unwanted conditions. Either way, Marma massage is really useful to help improve or maintain a healthy balance.
Thus healing through Marma abhayangam affects the chakras, Physical health and doshas. The purpose of Marma Abhayangam is to stimulate the various body organs and systems.
Marma therapy focuses on energizing the body to relieve occupational illness and stress related diseases. Often, it helps the couples to re-establish harmony in marital life. Here, Kalari master is the spiritual Guru, Counsellor and physiotherapist all rolled into one. Marma Chikitsa (therapeutic treatment ) is an offshoot of Kalaripayattu; Kerala's martial art.
School of Martial Arts
In Kerala, Marma therapy joins the streams of Siddha & Kalari. Marma Chikitsa brings equilibrium between tridosha vatta, pitta and kapha. These three elements form the essence of life.
Marma Chikitsa is basically a neuromuscular and orthopaedic science. Oil therapy or Snehana is an important part of Marma chikitsa. Warm, medicated oils are applied in large amount all over the body, the medicated oils are used on specific body sites such as on Chakras and Marma points or at specific affected spots . The body is then massaged using these oils.
Marma treatment encompasses healing, massage and physical flexibity and is available in Kerala only. One can learn this art in two to three years. Though this ancient art is gradually finding its way back into the mainstream of life, it has retained its exclusivity through a strong guru-disciple tradition. However, post independence, Government of India constituted Udupa committee for the development of Ayurveda and that committee gave its recommendation for the popularisation of this therapy amongst all Ayurveda physicians in the country. Central council of Indian medicine is now promoting this specialised discipline and offering postgraduate Master of science, M.S.(Ay) degree in certain institutions.