November 2011 Shrouded in mystery and known equally for its capacity to kill and to cure, marma therapy is a little known aspect of ayurveda which holds out the promise of good health, says Preeti Kopikar Marma is an intrinsic part of Kalaripayyattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala, where it is used to both kill and cure Marma therapy,” I hinted. Writhing in pain, my friend Seema gave me a puzzled look. Saddled with a lower back pain for as long as I remember, no amount of medication had been able to give her permanent relief. Afraid she may have to undergo a back surgery, I suggested marma therapy to her. As is well known, ayurveda, the ancient healing system of India, works on the principal that each person has a distinct energy pattern or dosha. There are three doshas or tridoshas called vata, pitta and kapha, though many may reflect two or more doshas in their body make-up. Ayurveda also believes that all of us are born in a state of harmony and in perfect balance of the tridoshas. But as we age, life’s challenges take a toll on us. Energy levels decrease, we adopt faulty lifestyle choices, worry and fret about problems, favour a poor diet and suffer from disturbed sleep patterns. These cause imbalance in our doshas, and eventually, the free-flowing movement of the body’s vital energies become blocked. This results in disease or discomfort, ultimately leading to age-related chronic ailments. Breaking blocks Marma therapy is a specialised massage, where the marma points in our body are kneaded to release the energy blockages built up over time. Marma points are the crucial pathways through which our ‘prana or vayu’ flows. “These are energy points in our body, which are close to the surface of the skin, where more than one tissue of our body comes together,” explained Dr Sanjay Chhajed, ayurvedic doctor. These tissues are ligaments, muscles, veins and joints. Dr Pankaj Naram, a well-known Mumbai-based ayurvedic practitioner with an international clientele, goes even further, “Marma is a secret art and science in ayurveda, which works on sensitive energy points of the body, mind, spirit and emotions,” he says. Sushruta in his Sushruta Samhita, an ayurvedic encyclopedia, identified 107 marma points, each with their own name in Sanskrit. Major marma points correspond to the seven chakras, or energy centres in our body, while minor points radiate out along the torso and limbs. The brain is considered the 108th marma point. Massaging the marma points helps to cleanse and open blocked energy pathways by either activating or healing the tridoshas, as the case may be. These marma points contain the seven elements such as soma, marutha, teja, satwa, raja, tamas and chetana. Dr Pankaj Naram, one of the few doctors who performs ‘marma,’ in Mumbai, puts it down as one of the six powerful agents of healing available in ayurveda. The others include herbal supplements, diet, panchkarma, and home remedies.Lethal weaponIt is believed that we have 12 marma points which when struck, can cause instant death. Masters of Kalaripayyattu, an ancient Indian martial art, discovered the power of marma points, and effectively used it to win wars. Kalari warriors attacked the opponent’s marma point either in self-defense or to incapacitate him. When these marma points are injured, Major marma points correspond to the seven chakras, or energy centers in our body, while minor points radiate out along the torso and limbs. The brain is considered the 108th marma point. the corresponding organs are deprived of ‘prana’, crippling or ailing the organ, and in some cases, causing slow or sudden death. For this reason, marma massage can be very painful, crippling or even fatal in inexpert hands. “Therefore, marma massage or therapy is given only by doctors who are especially trained in it,” warns Dr Chhajed.Marma therapy was also specifically designed and developed as an effective way of healing wounds of Kalari warriors injured in the war and nursing them back to health. Therefore, it is also called ‘Kalari marma’. Marma therapy actually transcends the physical body and heals at a much deeper level. It is a powerful and potent massage to energise and revitalise you physically and mentally, thereby promising health without medication. The marma massage “Marma massage is different from acupressure or acupuncture,” says Dr Chhajed. The key difference is that other practices work through the body’s framework of energy pathways or meridians, while marma point massage bridges the gap between the physical and mental energy junctions allowing the ‘prana or vayu’ to free flow between mind and body, creating harmony in your life. Preeti Koppikar is a writer and a follower of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism for the past six years. A regular writer for the Speaking Tree, she hopes to become a motivational speaker someday Acoording to Dr Naram, the benefits of marma are many. It removes blocks in energy channels (strotas), restores normalcy in vata and finally has a tremendous impact on the overall health at the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. Mrs Pooja Kutty (name changed to protect identity) was worried that her six-year-old daughter Gauri, born with glotal dysfunction, would not speak at all. But after just two sessions of marma with Dr Naram, Gauri speaks non-stop. Ravi Vitthal, who was born mentally challenged, was married off to a young girl by his mother so he could be looked after for the rest of his life. Sympathising with the young bride’s plight, Dr Naram performed potent marma on Ravi, which literally gave him his life back. Today, Ravi is a proud father of a pretty girl and holds a decent job in a government organisation. Apart from correcting neurological problems, marma helps restore sound sleep, physical vitality and mental alertness. Marma massage also improves blood circulation, therefore increasing immunity.
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