Origin of Marma massage

Marma Massage

Marma-point massage dates back to southern India circa 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 points 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. Along with their ability to kill, however, comes an ability to heal. 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 soldier's injuries. If a warrior suffered a blow to the small intestines, for example, the marma point on the back of the calf, which corresponds directly with the upper intestine, would be massaged to trigger a healing flow of energy to the injury. Eventually, Ayurvedic physicians around India learned of the technique's powers and brought kalari masters into hospitals to teach the art. Soon, marma-point training became mandatory for surgeons, who would take great pains to work around specific points lest they risk a patient's life. Today marma-point massage is still a respected component of Ayurvedic healing Training.
There are no official educational standards for those seeking to call themselves marma-point massage therapists. Some practitioners complete hundreds of hours of apprenticeship alongside Ayurvedic masters, while others glean the basics from weekend workshops. Whichever the case, mastering marma massage isn't something that happens overnight.
"[It] isn't something you can learn in a weekend workshop."Marma [points] aren't something to play around with. It is advised to attend an in-depth training session offered by one of the nation's Ayurvedic schools. Among the first things to learn are the locations and qualities of the basic marma points. While the thought of memorizing the position and width of 107 points may be daunting, one can easily start by learning the names and qualities of the most apparent ones. Many marma points are naturally sensitive areas that most massage therapists are familiar with, such as the temples, the base of the skull, and the backs of the knees. Eventually, you can expand your knowledge to include a wider breadth of points. Also important is the ability to discern what imbalances may be present in a client's dosha. This can be as simple as having the client complete a questionnaire on diet, ailments and behaviour patterns, or as complex as teaming up with an Ayurvedic physician who can provide a full doshic evaluation. Typically, this evaluation includes an in-depth questionnaire, examination of the tongue, eyes and nails, and taking wrist-pulse measurements. (In Ayurveda there are multiple pulses measured in the wrist.) The final preparatory step is to choose one or more essential oils that either complement the client's dosha or brings her back into balance. For example, a marma-point massage therapist may use oil that is high in pitta energy, such as sunflower oil, for a client whose pitta dosha is low. "Knowledge of essential oils is helpful, "You need to know the differences between oils that are stimulating versus those that are relaxing. Your body instinctively loves the smell of what heals you, so you don't want to use oil that aggravates the dosha."

A subtle technique
When it comes to massaging the marma points, the subtlety of the technique cannot be overstated. Using one or more fingers (depending on the size of the point), the massage therapist starts with a light touch, becoming increasingly firm over the course of one to three minutes per point. Working only as deep as the client feels comfortable; the therapist's motions can be either direct or circular. Clockwise movements stimulate and energize a marma point, while counter clockwise motions break up blocked energy held within a point.
"One can feel each point releasing; the flow of energy in my body was very dynamic, not subtle at all." With marma massage, something happens that makes me more in tune with my own energy, like a built-in reminder of how to relax. It gives a long-lasting sense of calm." Although some massage therapists may weave marma-point stimulation into other techniques, purists will argue that it is best done on its own. A typical marma-point massage session lasts between 60 to 90 minutes, during which the therapist either covers all 107 points briefly or concentrates her attention on a handful of key points. The difference lies in the expertise of the practitioner and the needs of the client. Either way, the experience can be deeply relaxing and rejuvenating. "Marma massage had a tremendous effect on the energy moving inside body; it is like a winding down the root, to stillness. Going deeper into the experience that ever went with deep-tissue massage or acupuncture, and the feeling lasted for days." "Its popularity will grow as more and more people look beyond Western medicine for ways of healing," she says. "Besides, when I teach my student’s marma massage, they fall in love with it."

Published in Ayurveda for Total Health – June 2006, Page No – 14




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