What are Marma Points in Ayurveda?

By Franciska Farkas and Shubha Karnik

Marmas are a part of greater sacred physiology that maps out the body according to subtle energy currents and power points. Mama point is a location on the body where two or more types of tissue meet, such as muscles, veins, ligaments, bones or joints. Marmas are vital locations on the body where various types of tissue unite. These locations are viewed as important because they are vulnerable points where pain or fatal injury may occur. Due to the various tissues present, an increase in prana is also present due to the subtle energies in the areas, and thus marma points may be manipulated not only to harm and incapacitate but also to aid in the healing of body, mind, and spirit. Organs fall along the channels on which the marma points lie and if those points are affected the associated organs may be damaged or starved of prana.

Marmas were first thought to be utilized as far back as 4000 BC for use in self-defense and martial arts in India and then spreading to surrounding countries and territories. It was well-known to be used in the Indian martial art of Kalari for offensive and defensive purposes, as well as to restore function and heal the martial artists after injury and strain. It is still used today in this way, and of course in Ayurveda as therapy.

Marmas are centers for the vital force or prana. Mamas connect to the Nadis [subtle nerves] and chakras [energy centers] of the subtle body and the mind. They govern the interface between the physical and the subtle pranic bodies and the interchange of energy and information. Mamas, most of them are situated on the surface of the body but some are situated deeper and are related to internal organs like the heart bladder, etc. The sizes of Marma's are variable, some are just one anguli in size, others larger about the size of the palm. Since Marmas are centers for prana, through manipulation of Marmas, prana can be directed to move blockages, improve energy flow or tap hidden energy reserves and make connections with a greater part of life and nature. Marmas are key locations for Ayurvedic bodywork and massage.

Marma therapy can be used to release blocked energy, cure some diseases, increase strength, and decrease stress. As a practitioner, using non-invasive manipulation of marmas and guiding clients to utilize marma points on their own will be helpful as sometimes the effects can be felt immediately. Also, if clients have had damage to locations where the marma lie it can give great insight into nidan and cikitsa.

Classification of Marmas

I. The distribution of marma points according to the location:
The lower extremities – 22
The upper extremities – 22
The chest and stomach – 12
The back – 14
The head and neck – 37
Total = 107
Since the mind​ is also considered as a marma, it will be 108 marma

II. Classification according to the physical structure:

Mamsa marma – muscle – 11
Sira marma - vessels conveying body fluids and impulses – 41
Sanyu – tendons – 27
Asthi – bones – 8
Sandhi - articulate points especially bone joints – 20
Total = 107

III. Classification according to the vulnerability:

Sadhya Pranhara Marma – 19
“Sadhya” means immediate.
“Pranhara” means loss of life.
Marmas are vulnerable to injury and may lead to loss of life immediately following insult.
Kalantara Pranhara – 33
“Kalantara” means after the lapse of some time
“Pranhara” means loss of life. After infliction of these marma, loss of life results gradually after
some time but within one month.
Vishalyaghana – 3
“ Vishalya” means the foreign body being removed.
Vishalyaghana means death occurring due to the removal of a foreign body.
Vaikalyakara – 44
“Vilkala” means deformity or cripple.
Rujakara – 8
“Ruja” means excess pain

Injury at this point causes excess pain.

Marma therapy or Marma chikitsa is an important method of Ayurvedic treatment for the entire spectrum of health complaints major and minor. Mamas when manipulated can alter both the organic function and structural condition of the body. Through the right use of marmas our entire physical and mental energy can be consciously increased, decreased or redirected in a transformative manner.
Example
1. Marma massage therapy can be useful to relieve blockage of energy.
2. Marma massage can help to cure some diseases.
3. Marma massage can help improve physical strength & stability.
4. Marma massage can help reduce vata vyadhi
5. Marma massage can improve the energy flow in the body resulting in healing which in turn can help reduce stress

Marmas are classified by their location, structure/tissue type, and vulnerability. Below is a chart representing these classifications.

According to Location 108

107 on the body + 1 mind=108
Lower extremities 22
Upper extremities 22
Chest and Stomach 12
Back 14
Head and neck 37

According to Physical Structure= 107
Mamsa marma 11 (muscle junction)
Sira marma 41 (crossing of vessels, veins)
Bodily fluids and impulses Snayu 27 (junction of tendons)
Asthi 8 (bones)
Sandhi 20 (joints)

Joints/articulating points

According to vulnerability 107
Sadhya Pranhara Marma 19

Immediate loss of life Kalantara 33
Loss of life after a lapse
Vishalyaghana 3
Foreign body being removed
Vaikalyakara 44 Deformity
Rujakara 8
Causing excess pain, death does not occur.

Rasa Dhatu or Waters in Ayurveda

By Anuradha Rao, Zobeida and Arjun Luthra (Ayurveda Counselor Student)

Our annamaya kosha (physical bodily sheath that covers our energetic self) is very intelligent, to convert what we consume as ahara, air and thoughts into us to sustain the life in us. The ahara becomes us and the heterogeneous separation between the annamaya kosha and the ahara, becomes homogeneous. This inclusiveness with everything has been the ultimate goal of any spiritual path (aka the liberation or moksha) and our annamaya kosha takes the first steps in this path through the act of digestion. To bring about this inclusivity, a lot goes in the body and various systems come together in order to achieve this.

Our physical bodies are made up of sapta dhatus or 7 kinds of tissues as per Ayurveda. These dhatus could be created sequentially, parallely or selectively; this again depends on the body's needs. To create these dhatus, the primary fuel or source of creation is the essence of the food or saara. Saara is nothing but the superior food that has been filtered out by the digestive agni from the complete ahara that has been consumed. And out of the sapta dhaatus, Rasa dhatu is the first dhatu that’s created out of the essence or sara.

‘Rasa’ literally translates to juice or taste in Sanskrit. This rasa could mean the taste of food (shad rasas) experienced by the physical body or taste of emotions (nava/dvadasha rasas) by the manasa/mental body/manomaya kosha. Thus, rasa dhatu is naturally the first dhatu to be born out of the saara, as digesting the first taste of food or first emotions of thoughts is the first step for any human being. Rasa dhatu in western pathology translates to lymph, plasma, and white blood cells; and is responsible for the immunity and protection of the body as well as nourishment and growth.

The word Rasa can be found in Ayurveda in more than one situation. When used in conjunction with food, it refers to taste. When used with emotions, implies taste for life, contentment. In Ayurveda Kriya Sarira, Rasa is one, and the first, of the seven dhatus (tissues) of the body.

The dhatus, are the foundation of the physical body. They provide the body with support, structure, and growth.

Rasa dhatu is the first dhatu formed post-digestion and the primary juice of life that gives the foundation for the creation of the rest of the dhatus. Rasa dhatu refers to the fluids of the body, the plasma, the lymph, and interstitial fluids. It is related to Kapha dosha and to Apa –water- mahabhuta, the gunas are cold, heavy, dull, moist, smooth, fluid, stable, liquid, cloudy.

Rasavaha srotas is the channel related to Rasa, it originates in the heart, travels throughout the body, and carries lymph.

The main functions of Rasa dhatu are:

Providing nutrition to all the cells in the body
Providing gratifying effect
Maintaining life
Giving satisfaction
Formation of asthayi Rasa –unstable Rasa dhatu-
Formation of upadhatus (Menstrual fluid, breast milk, and Tvak)
Formation of Kapha
Transport waste from the cells to the kidneys
Avoiding initiation of the disease process
The Upadhatus are constructing elements that do not give nourishment to the body. The upadhatus of Rasa dhatu are:

Stanya –breast milk: It provides nourishment and immunity to the baby. It travels through Stanyavaha srotas.
Artava/Raja –menstrual fluid: It is present only in women and flows through Artavavaha srotas.

Dhatu sara –Tissue excellence

Is a state of well tissues. When Rasa dhatu is excellent –Rasa/Tvak sara- the skin unctuous, soft, smooth and glossy. The hair is tender and the hair follicles are less in number and deep rooted.

Imbalanced Rasa dhatu

Rasa dhatu can increase, decrease or get vitiated. Hetus of imbalanced Rasa dhatu can be cold, heavy, excess of dry food, excess of unctuous food, excess eating, worry, anxiety, too much fasting.

An imbalanced Rasa dhatu leads to anorexia, nausea, lethargic feeling, drowsiness, heaviness, fever, early greying hair, anemia, wrinkles, menstrual imbalance.

When rasa dhatu is vitiated in the body, it results in the following signs:

Dryness of the mouth
Dry skin
Cracked skin
Excess thirst
Exhaustion
Intolerance for sound
Tremors
Scanty menstrual fluid
Decreased menstrual bleeding/scanty bleeding
Decreased lactation
Dryness of mouth
Dryness of vagina
Early greying of hair
Anorexia
Dry skin
Exhaustion
Intolerance for sound
Tremors
Anemia

When rasa dhatu is increased in the body, it results in the following signs:

Excess salivation
Nausea
Moist skin
Lethargy
Swelling, edema
Dullness
Heavy menstrual fluid
Increased menstrual bleeding/excessive bleeding
Fatigue
Nausea
Menorrhagia
Endometriosis
Oily skin
Water retention
Bloating
Increased salivation

Rasa dhatu is the first dhatu that is nourished from the ahara rasa(essence of the food which we take). The nourishment and development of all other dhatus is dependent on the quality and quantity of the rasa dhatu. Unstable rasa dhatu is transformed into rakta dhatu. From the western perspective, it is the water portion of the blood that carries proteins and essential nutrients. This is then circulated by the help of vyana vayu. When rasa dhatu is increased, the accessory elements are increased, which are breast milk and the menstrual fluid(aartava). Likewise, when the rasa dhatu is depleted, the accessory elements are also depleted. Thus depletion of rasa dhatu affects the quantity of rasa dhatu that is matured into aartava and is manifested during monthly periods.

This also affects the breastmilk quantity and quality. That is why it is important that a pregnant women has sufficient rasa during her pregnancy because it supports growth and development of her baby as well and it promotes life satisfaction. Having a baby can lead to vata imbalance and excess vata which is dry and mobile can dry out rasa of the body.

Rasa dhatu has the qualities of cold, unctuous, heavy, oily. And thus rasa dhatu is governed by Kapha. Rasa dhatu is created in the following manner:

Rasa dhatvagni

Saara (Essence) -----------------------> Stable Rasa dhatu + Unstable Rasa dhatu + Upadhatu (Breast milk + Menstrual fluid) + Mala (Kapha)

For this rasa dhatu to flow in the body, there are rasa vaha srotas or channels and as per Ayurveda the rasa vaha srotas originate in the heart and are spread throughout the body.

So as it can be easily deduced, the essence of what is being eaten gets converted to Rasa dhatu. Hence, the quality of rasa dhatu relies heavily on the quality of nutrition.

Other signs of decreased rasa dhatu is dry skin, dry mouth, exhaustion, tremors, excess thirst and intolerance to sound. Depleted rasa dhatu could be due to dehydration and physical symptoms could include sunken eyes, dry hair and cracked lips.

The manasa aspect is that there will be less satisfaction with life. Excess rasa dhatu relates to drowsiness, heaviness, swelling, water retention, excess salivation and heavy menstrual flow. Vitiation of rasa dhatu is related to anemia(excess paleness of face is an indicator), anorexia, drowsiness, early greying of hair, anemia and appearance of wrinkles.

Based on the dushti and diagnosis, a proper regimen is then accordingly given in order to balance the rasa dhatu such as a rejuvenation therapy when rasa dhatu is vitiated or cleansing therapy when rasa dhatu is in excess.

Saturn and Jupiter in Jyotish (Vedic Astrology)

In our previous session, We had covered the (grahas) planets. There are some basic things you need to know for the Ayurveda Counselor. We have really covered most of the curriculum. We have covered the bhavas and houses in previous classes. Today, we will talk about Saturn and Jupiter, Rahu, and Ketu.

As a general rule, people are scared of Saturn. Did you know that even countries are ruled by the grahas.

For example, India is ruled by Saturn and there is a delay and more delays in everything. if you have ever been to India, you are very aware of things always take time, and, may be delayed.

America on the other hand is ruled by Mars. Let's fight and throw an army at the problem. This is because America is ruled by Mars.

Listen to the rest of the podcast here.

Learn Jyotish (Vedic Astrology)

Interested in learning about jyotish or vedic astrology. Here is a list of our podcasts:

Previous session links below

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

session 4

Eight Limbs of Yoga

Eight Limbs of Yoga from Shandilya Upanishads.

Where did yoga originate? What is the meaning of yoga? What do the ancient texts of yoga-like Shandilya Upanishad, Hatha Yoga Pradipika say about the eight limbs or classifications of the yoga process?

Listen to actual class audio from Narayana Ayurveda and Yoga Academy where we discuss the eight limbs of yoga as given in different ancient Sanskrit texts.

Sanskrit for Ayurveda practitioners

By Mithun Baliga
Podcast by @Manjulali

Ayurveda is an ancient science believed to have divine origins. The language of the time was Sanskrit. Hence all the original texts are written in that language. Of course, we now have a translation in various languages. So we can ask certainly the question: what is the importance of Sanskrit to Ayurveda practitioners? since everything is now available in English. It is important for many reasons.

1. The arrangement of information is the texts are in poetic form. This was to facilitate memorization which is easier why set to rhyme and meter. This poetic way of delivering information has to be interpreted correctly in the original language it was written(as in all poetry). Otherwise, errors can occur.

2. Sanskrit is an original stand-alone language, meaning it has no borrowed words. So, many times it is not possible to find exact equivalent words in other languages like English. Eg: the word dosha. The closest translation could be "a fault" but we know that "a fault" is not what we mean when we say dosha in Ayurveda. For this reason, Ayurvedic practitioners has to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the language so that they can use those Sanskrit words correctly and with confidence.

3. Some aspects of Ayurveda involve invoking mantras and or salutations. Although these can also be translated, again their inner meaning is lost. In order to recommend these forms of adjuncts to therapy, the practitioner may find the knowledge of Sanskrit helpful.

4. As a diagnostic tool: Although not used nowadays, in the past the ayurvedic practitioner would ask the patient to read out the syllables of the Sanskrit language. By observing the pronunciation and speech patterns, they would diagnose the patient's issues.

5. At a higher level, the Sanskrit language has divinity in itself. The syllables have a deeper meaning and specific combinations have different effects and strengths. Chanting Vedic and other hymns are known to bring about profound changes in the physical body as well as the mind and for spiritual progress.

Read More

Shakti of the Divine -Sri Radha

The power or energy of the divine is called Shakti. In Ayurveda, we learn an aspect of this in Samkhya.

In Vedic lineage--shaktiman or powerful god has a female aspect--called the Shakti. Shakti and Shaktiman create mahad tattva.

Example of Shaktiman (ALL POWERFUL) with his Shakti(Power in the form of feminine divine)

*Narayana with Lakshmi.
*Shiva with Parvati
*Brahma with Bharati
*Sri Rama with Sita.
*Krishna with Sri Radha

Male Divine with Female Divine. They are never separate--they just exist separately.

Pandit Atul talks about this "shakti" aspect of divine focusing on Sri Radha, on the appearance day-Radhashtami.

Why do bad things happen? A karmic perspective

Today's podcast is on the them why do bad things happen to good people. (Does this mean that good things happen to bad people?)

People say "Why me? I am one of the good people. Why do bad things happen? Why did it have to happen to me? Where is God when that bad thing was happening". Our students and community asks us this.

So, Pandit Atul explains why bad things happen from a karmic and vedic perspective.

The concept of compassion and being human is left on the side in today's day and age. Practicing a yoga lifestyle or Ayurveda-we should have a way of understanding this. This can be explained by Karma and Jyotish.

Click to hear more.

Introduction to Jyotish-session 02

Here is the podcast #2 -Introduction to Jyotish-Vedic Astrology Part 2 by Pandit Atul Krishna Das

Transcript for the first few minutes:

Jyotish means the science of light, the science of luminaries. Moon, Mars, Venus all these planets have energies that affect us in various ways.
Planets have an effect on us whether you believe it or not.
Something as simple as "have you seen what happens during a full moon"
People can act a little crazy. Minds are affected. they maybe do something that they may not usually do. It has even given rise to this expression called moon mad.

And of course the term, "lunacy" comes from Moon. It was observed when
people had any kind of instability, we will say that there may be a vata disorder, that may be involved with psychosis- it may be involved with the moon.

The moon pulls the moon. Sun also has an effect on our digestion, our fire. Important thing is that we have karma and our karma is coming from our past lives.

Time of birth is not by chance.

We are born at a time when it is the right time for us to be born (for us to receive
the karma that has been assigned and attributed to us by our own actions in the previous life).

Vedic astrology not about destiny or predetermination.

You can look at a chart and understand things about them, their karma, their nature, and even life events. This is not going to be 100% who they are. We are individuals.

We have the ability to take up spiritual processes like yoga that can free us from t his karma.

Here is the podcast #1 Introduction to Jyotish-Vedic Astrology Part 1 by Pandit Atul Krishna Das

Bhagavad Gita for Yoga Practitioners

On the occasion of janamashtami, the appearance of Shri Krishna we have released two podcasts.

Podcast 1 by Pandit Atul on the appearance of Sri Krishna

Podcast 2 by Dr. Aparna Dandekar on laying the background story of why Bhagavad Gita was spoken focusing on yoga practitioners

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