A Marma point is an anatomical point where the muscles, arteries, veins, nerves, ligaments, bones and joints meet. According to the ancient Ayurvedic sage Sushruta, marma points are the seats of life.1 They are also the sites where not only tridoshas (vāta, pitta and kapha) are present but their subtle forms of vital force (prana), essence of life (ojas) and inner radiance (tejas) are also present.
Marma points have therapeutic importance. They can be massaged to assist with pain and have particular importance in digestion and metabolism.2
Let’s take a look at Marma points for digestion and metabolism, by region of the body.
Marma Points Of The Arms And Hand
Marma points on the arms have two points, one for each arm.
Marma points on the right arm are better for increasing heat, promoting circulation and improving digestion. They stimulate bodily activities, increase digestive fire (Agni) and the Pitta functions of the body.
Marma points on the left arm are better for cooling action, reducing inflammation and building tissue. They have a calming effect, increasing the Kapha or watery functions of the body.
1. Indrabasti Marma
Location: Center of forearm
Indrabasti controls the digestive system (Annavaha Srotas), digestive fire (Agni), balances Prana (Samana Vayu), digestive juices (Pachaka Pitta) and the small intestine.
Massage the area, using a strong circular motion for about five minutes.
For stimulation of digestive fire (Agni) massage with Mahamasha Taila, mustard or sesame oils.
For controlling the small intestine and digestive system (Annavaha Srotas), use warm spicy aromatic oils like anise, fennel, ginger or cardamom.
Massage with Calamus oil is beneficial here for promoting circulation in both the digestive system and in the plasma.
2. Kurchashira Marma
Location: Base of thumb joint
Kurchashira Marma controls the digestive fire (Agni), stomach, Pachaka Pitta, Kledaka Kapha and Samana Vata, all of which are secondary doshas which primarily govern digestion. This Marma also influences the head, mind and nervous systems, calming Vata dosha.
The thumb is regarded as a manifestation of Agni, as the power of digestion, life (Prana) and as the soul itself.
Follow the usual massage procedures using a strong massage, particularly with your thumb until the energy in the thumb is released. This is a good marma for increasing life (Prana) and stimulating Agni in the body overall.
For Agni and digestion, use stimulating aromatic oils like ginger, cinnamon, cloves or cardamom.
3. Kurpara Marma
Location: Elbow joint
On the right elbow this marma controls the liver and Ranjaka Pitta. On the left elbow it controls the spleen, pancreas and channels of water metabolism (Udakavaha Srotas).
For liver diseases, massage the right Kurpara marma with Padmakadi oil, Manjishtadi oil, Brahmi oil, ghee or safflower oil. For diseases of the spleen and pancreas, massage the left Kurpara marma with Manjishtadi oil, safflower oil or sesame oil.
4. Ani Marma
Location: Lower region of the upper arm
This Marma controls channels of water metabolism (Udakavaha Srotas) and kidneys.
Follow usual massage procedures.
For controlling channels of water-metabolism (Udakavaha Srotas), massage with goose berry medicated oil (Amalaki Tail) or plain mustard oil.
5. Urvi Marma
Location: The mid-region of the upper arm
This Marma controls plasma and lymphatic channels (Rasavaha srotas) and the channels of water-metabolism (Udakavaha Srotas).
Give Marma massage to the area, using a strong circular motion for about five minutes.
Marma Points Of The Legs and Feet
Marma regions on the legs have two points, one on each leg.
Marmas on the right leg are better for increasing heat, promoting circulation and improving digestion. They stimulate bodily activities, increasing Agni (fire) and the Pitta functions of the body.
Marmas on the left leg are better for cooling action, reducing inflammation and building tissue. They have a calming effect and increase the Kapha or watery functions of the body.
1. Talahridaya Marma
Location: Center of the sole of the foot
This Marma controls the power of circulation (Vyana Vata), particularly for the lower part of the body (below the navel) and Apana Vata.
Apply Marma massage to the area, using a strong circular motion for about five minutes or until the energy in the foot is released.
This is a good Marma for reducing Vata and for controlling Apana Vata.
2. Kurchashira Marma
Location: Base of big toe joint
This Marma is good for digestive fire (Agni) and for digestion.
Follow usual massage procedures, using a strong pressure at the centre of this Marma.
For improving digestive fire (Agni) and digestion, use stimulating oils like ginger, camphor or garlic.
3. Indrabasti Marma
Location: Center of lower leg
This Marma controls the channels of the digestive system (Annavaha Srotas), digestive fire (Agni), Pachaka Pitta, Samana Vayu, and the small intestine.
Apply Marma massage to the area, using a strong circular motion for about five minutes. This helps to increase digestive fire or Agni and promotes digestion.
For improving the function of the small intestines and the digestive system channels (Annavaha Srotas), massage with aromatic oils that stimulate digestion like fennel, ginger, anise and carom or ajwain.
For stimulation of digestive fire (Agni), special Ayurvedic formulas like Kshara Taila or Hingu-trigunadi Taila containing garlic, asafoetida and rock salt can be used. Or apply warm aromatic oils like ginger, cinnamon or black pepper.
4. Janu Marma
Location: Knee joint
The right knee Marma controls the liver and the color of the blood and bile (Ranjaka Pitta). The left knee Marma controls the spleen, pancreas and water-metabolism (Udakavaha Srotas).
Massage the area using a gentle circular motion for about five minutes at the central point and the points immediately above and below the joint.
For improving liver function, massage the Marma on the right knee with medicated oil such as Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi Taila) or plain ghee. Use Pitta-reducing aromatic oils like lime, myrrh, wormwood or coriander.
For improving spleen function, massage the Marma on the left knee with oil medicated with false daisy and goose berry (Bhring-amalakadi Taila) or plain sesame oil. Kapha-removing aromatic oils like ginger, lemon or cardamom can also be used.
Saffron or turmeric oils can be used for either liver or spleen.
5. Ani Marma
Location: Lower region of upper leg
This Marma controls the channels of water-metabolism (Udakavaha Srotas) and the circulation of bodily fluids downward.
Apply a strong circular motion over this Marma for about five minutes. It promotes the circulation of water and fluids in the body. For controlling the channels of water-metabolism (Udakavaha Srotas) massage with Indian gooseberry oil (Amalaki Taila) or plain sesame or mustard oils.
6. Urvi Marma
Location: The mid-region of the upper thigh
Urvi Marma controls the channels of the lymphatic system, plasma and water-metabolism (Rasavaha and Udakavaha Srotas).
Apply Marma massage to the area, using a strong circular motion for about five minutes. It aids in weight reduction and removing Kapha.
For improving the function of the channels of plasma and the lymphatic system (Rasavaha Srotas) massage with cumin medicated oil (Jirakadi Taila) or with plain almond oil or mustard oil.
Marma Points On The Abdomen And Chest
Marmas on the front side of the body, the abdomen and chest, are fewer innumber but very important as this area houses our main internal organs. The front of the body includes the main sites of the accumulation of the doshas in the large intestine (Vata), small intestine (Pitta) and stomach (Kapha) and can be used to promote the elimination of the doshas from these locations.
Treating these regions is essential for proper digestion and for detoxification.
1. Guda Marma
This Marma controls Apana Vayu, the channels of excretory and urinary systems (Purishavaha, Mutravaha Srotamsi). This Marma relates to the site of accumulation of vata in the large intestine.
The point at the base of the spine is the best region of this Marma for massage. To reduce Vata, use a gentle massage of warm sesame or medicated sesame oils like Dashamula oil.
For improving functions of the urinary system (Mutravaha Srotas) massage with mustard oil. You can also use diuretic aromatic oils like juniper, birch or parsley.
For controlling obesity, use oil medicated with Terminalia elliptica and Wood Apple (Asana-bilvadi Taila) or use weight reducing aromatic oils like camphor and myrrh.
2. Basti Marma
Location: Lower abdomen
This Marma controls the muscular system (Mamsavaha srotas), bodily fat (Medovaha Srotamsi), Kapha and the urinary system (Mutravaha srotas).
It relates to Vata’s site of accumulation in the surrounding surface area above the bladder, and to Apana Vayu (downward-moving air).
Massage gently in broad circular motions with the palm of the hand and fingers. It helps in reducing Vata, dispels gas and bloating and strengthens Ojas.
Warm oil massage like Dashamula Taila, Narayan Taila, plain sesame oil or castor oil here are excellent for controlling and reducing Vata. Use aromatic oils like nutmeg, valerian, lotus or sandalwood for calming and grounding the action on Vata and for strengthening Ojas. Carminative (gas-dispelling) aromas applied here like cardamom, asafoetida (hing) or basil helps in removing Vata or gas and distention in the large intestine.
Kaphaja types often carry excess weight and water and have lax muscle tone in this region. They can be benefited by stronger massage with penetrating aromatic oils like cinnamon, cloves or camphor.
3. Nabhi Marma
Nabhi Marma controls the channels of digestion (Annavaha srotas) as well as the blood and circulatory systems (Raktavaha Srotas). It is the main center for digestion and exertion. It controls the digestive fire (Agni), digestive juices (Pachaka Pitta), the color of the blood and bile (Ranjaka Pitta), the vata sub-type responsible for digestion (Samana Vayu), Pitta dosha and the fire element in the body as a whole.
Apply Marma massage to this area, using a gentle circular motion around the navel since this a sensitive place for about five minutes. Simply laying on of the hands with a gentle massage gives the best results. It is a prime area for reducing Pitta and stopping its accumulation in the small intestine. Use Dashamula oil, sesame oil or almond oil to relieve stress, nervous tension and counter nervous indigestion (Vata).
For Pitta-related heat and stress in the navel use Brahmi oil or coconut oil. For increasing digestive fire (Agni) use aromatic oils that stimulate digestion like bay leaf, ginger, fennel or cardamom.
For hyperacidity and high Pitta, massage with cooling aromatic oils like jasmine (mogra), rose or sandalwood.
Clove oil is good for increasing digestive power in Pitta type people. Simply placing the hand over the navel has a protective, nurturing affect and calms Vata.
Herbal sandalwood paste is good for alleviating Pitta (acidity) in the small intestine. A paste of asafoetida powder (hing) is good for dispelling gas and distention (Vata).
Internally the use of purgative herbs like senna, rhubarb root or Triphala (Virechana) in large dosages is used to remove Pitta from the navel region. It is part of Panchakarma therapy and used only under strict clinical supervision.
4. Apstambha Marma
Location: Shoulder blade
This Marma controls the Kapha involved in digestion, known as Kledaka Kapha, bone and fat tissues and channels (Asthivaha and Medovaha Srotamsi).
Follow the usual massage procedures on the surrounding muscles. It is a good treatment area for reducing Kapha, preventing it from accumulating at its site in the stomach.
For controlling fat tissues (Medovaha Srotas) and bone tissues (Asthivaha Srotas), use Kshirabala Taila, mustard oil or sesame oil for massage.
Use aromatic oils that reduces fat and heal the bones like myrrh, guggul, ginger or cinnamon. Massage at this Marma aids in weight reduction and controls Kapha as well as increases vital force (Prana).
Marma Points On The Back And Hips
These Marmas are the main points governing the hips and shoulder bones, which are the two main joints in the body.
1. Parshvasandhi Marma
Location: The upper hips
This Marma controls the adrenal glands and the channels of the digestive and excretory systems (Annavaha, Purishavaha srotas).
Follow the usual massage methods, using some force and power of movement.
Treatment of this marma goes along well with treating Basti and Vitapa Marmas on the other side of the body.
Marma Points On The Head And Neck
The head and neck have sensitive regions, sensory openings and connect to the brain. They have the largest number of Marmas. The head is where we have our greatest reception of both Prana and nutrients through the senses, nose and mouth.
1. Manya Marma
Location: Side of upper neck
This Marma controls the channels of the lymphatic system, plasma (Rasavah), blood and circulatory system (Raktavaha Srotas), lubrication of the mouth, throat and the sense of taste (Bodhaka Kapha) and upward moving vata (Udana Vata).
Massage emphasizing the point up and back to the mandibular bone, taking care to avoid pressure to the soft and sensitive tissue of the front of the neck. For controlling plasma, the lymphatic system (Rasavaha), the circulatory system (Raktavaha Srotas) and the subtype of kapha responsible for lubrication of the mouth (Bodhaka Kapha) use stimulating aromatic oils like cinnamon, cardamom, rosemary, mint or tea tree.
Effects Of Marma Massage
It is generally good to treat the corresponding Marmas on both the right and left sides of the body or on both the upper and lower extremities.
All over effects seen on the digestive system by Marma therapy are assimilated as follow.3
- It maintains the digestive power by stimulating all organs of the gastrointestinal tract.
- It improves the digestive function of the body.
- It increases the appetite by encouraging the proper digestion of food.
- It improves the function of the intestines, so the intestines expel harmful substances properly.
- It improves the peristaltic movement of the gastrointestinal tract and relieves constipation, loss of appetite and hyperacidity.
- With the proper digestion of food, the body receives the proper nutrients and it also improves the working capacity of the body.
1 P.V. Sharma ,Sushruta Sarirsthana chapter 6 verse 15, Dalhan’s Commentary, Chaukhamba Vishvabharti, Varanasi
2 Dr David Frawley, Dr Subhash Ranade,Dr. Avinash ‘Ayurveda and Marma Therapy: Energy Points in Yogic Healing’ Lotus Press, Twin Lake WI.
3 Dr Sunil Kumar Joshi, Marma Science and Principles of Marma Therapy, Vani Publications, Delhi.