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When water stagnates, it begins to stink, and so does the life force within us. The quality of our Prana, or the fundamental life force flowing through us, also called the Chi, can indicate the state of our physical and mental health. When our prana is high and flows through energy channels or nadis without obstruction, we are likely to feel positive and healthy. But if the energy flow is disturbed or meets obstructions in its course, they may develop into subtle blockages that may over time affect our health, if not cleared out. When these blockages are removed, our body gains the strength to heal itself quickly from an injury or illness.
What is a marma point?
The vital prana flows throughout the body-mind complex via subtle energy channels connected at multiple neuro-lymphatic nodes called marma points. Marma therapy is a powerful yet very subtle Ayurvedic massage practice that involves activating the nodes or marma points. Unlike other forms of massages that focus on lubricating the joints, oleation, and reducing muscle stiffness, marma may not involve the application of a lot of pressure on the body. But that does NOT mean marma does not work for your body organs or muscle tissues. It heals from within.
We have about 107 marma points located throughout our body. Each marma point is a meeting point of certain veins, ligaments, bones and joints in the manifest, and specific doshas, forms of prana called vayu, organs, and energy channels called srota. By simply stimulating or massaging these points we can strengthen the function and health of the particular organs; increase the flow of blood and improve awareness.
Working on these marma points have superlative spiritual and physiological benefits. It is an ancient way of revitalizing our organs and tissues by removing the energy blockages from these locations. It helps the prana flow uninterruptedly. It also aids the healing of particular organs related to the marma points. Each marma point has a specific name, location, and function. They all differ in size and are measured in units of fingers. A marma therapist applies a specific amount of pressure on the specific marma points, to attend to the blockages and reset the flow of prana in the right direction.
Going by the classical texts authored by the revered proponent of Ayurveda-Sushruta, there are five main classifications of marma points:
- 11 muscle joints
- 27 ligament connections
- 8 bone connections
- 41 connecting veins
What are the benefits of marma massages?
There are numerous subtle and more tangible benefits of activating marma points, including
- Pain relief
- Sexual arousal
- Relaxation response; reduce of tension and stress
- Revitalizing and nourishing internal organs
- Better skin quality
- Improved blood circulation
- Better immunity
- Detoxification by improving the lymphatic system
- Feeling more energized.
The Ten Facial Marma Points
The head and facial region is one of the three main marma groups in the body and is accorded great importance in the science of Ayurveda as the seat of all the sense organs and prana. The main marma points in this region are
- Two sides of the nose right above the nasal cavity (Phana Marma). These two vein marmas are related to the sense organ of smell, Kapha dosha in the head region, nasal passage, and the nostrils.
- Outer ridges of the eyebrows on the temples (Apanga Marma). This is related to eyesight, pitta dosha and both the eyes.
- The tip and bottom of the ears (Vidhur marma). A point where a ligament and tendon converge, this point controls prana vayu (the type of prana that is involved in breathing in, taking in food, propulsion, and moving forward); hearing; and left and right energy channels of the ears.
- Side of the temples near the ears (Shankha Marma). These points are related to the sense of touch, Vata dosha in the large intestine, and prana that is downward moving (apana vayu).
- Points where scalp meets facial skin, slightly above the line of the eyebrows (Utkshepa Marma). These points located right above Shankha marma, are related to the sense of smell.
- Middle points of the eyebrows (Avarta Marma). These points are related to Vata dosha, physical posture, and eye sight.
- 4 points on the head where blood vessels converge (Shrinagataka Marma). These are important marma points, connecting the bundle of veins located in the head region. They are related to nourishing four sense organs-eyes, ears, tongue, and nose; flow or prana vayu; ojas essence; and lubrication of tongue.
- Middle of the forehead at the point between the two eyebrows (Sthapani marma). It is related to the sixth chakra (Ajna), mind, pituitary gland, and control of the senses.
- Center of chin (Chibuk marma). This point is related to the flow of prana in the skin.
Benefits of Marma Point Face Massage
Stimulation of facial marma points works on improving the function and health of all the veins, bones, and ligaments located here, the related doshas, types of prana, and nadis associated with the points, which can have far-reaching benefits for not just your face and skin but also the quality of your day, mental health and level of awareness in life. You may experience
- Reduced signs of mental stress and aging in facial muscles
- Lymphatic drainage that helps the body detoxify better
- Opening up of blocked channels in the face, better respiration
- Glowing and hydrated skin
- Reduction of acne and breakouts caused by the accumulation of toxins
- Better digestion
- More energy and better sleep
- Reduction in eye strain
- Clear mind
- Release of difficult emotions and traumas sitting in our system as blockages
- Stress management.
How to Perform a Facial Marma Massage
It is best recommended that a facial marma be done for you by an experienced marma therapist since the practice is so subtle and requires precision. But if you are keen to learn about how it is performed, here is a quick guide to a facial marma massage.
- Use a soothing and calming essential oil like coconut oil, or lavender for the massage.
- Massage gently from the collarbone to the chin. Use both palms.
- Take your left hand. Place your index finger on the cleft of the chin (top) and middle finger below it, and run the fingers gently from the chin through the right jawline to the right ear (like Al Pacino from Godfather).
- Do it for the left side of the chin with your right hand.
- Massage gently using your index finger, from chin to the nose and back, in a gentle circular upward movement, such that your cheeks rise.
- From there, using your palms, massage the area from the sides of the mouths to temples. As you massage the region, you will see the cheek and temple skin rise and fall.
- Massage along the arc below the eyebrows gently from inside, that is bridge of the nose, outwards.
- Massage the eye sockets in a similar fashion.
- Make a pinch of the thumb and index finger and slide it from the middle of the forehead to alongside the nose, with both the fingers opening as they slide down and joining back together at the forehead, on their way up.
- Place your hands on the crown of your head, as if you are holding your head in its place with both your hand, palms facing inwards. The bottom of your palms should be parallel to the ground. Now you can gently massage your head region by moving your hands in a circular motion, pressing lightly on the temple, holding the top half of the head in a tight clasp.
- Now bring your ring and index fingers of a hand together. Run them from the bridge of the nose to the top of the forehead where the scalp begins, moving the two fingers in between the eyebrows.
- Graze your fingers from the right side of the forehead to the left side and left to right, pressing the region every so lightly.
- Finally, lightly press all the marma points in the face with your middle fingers on either side of the face.
There are several videos on YouTube with great demonstrations of marma point massage techniques if it helps to visualize better. Here are a couple to start you off: