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.