A popular massage technique originating in ancient India eventually made its way to other parts of
Asia, Marma point Indian massage is one of the oldest massage
techniques still in use today. Used widely in many other parts of the world for thousands of years, it has
made its way into both high level and simple Western spas and massage
therapy settings where it has become a great favorite of clients.
As we have found many times with other
Eastern bodywork techniques, the focus in Marma Point massage is an
attempt to integrate mind and body.
"Marma" is a Sanskrit word that simply means hidden.
The idea behind this particular form of bodywork is to reach into hidden places within the client to elicit the desired effect. As a result, marma point makes use of deep tissue massage to stimulate joints, ligaments and muscles where they meet at a point. Actually, a marma point would simply be described as a place where flesh, veins, arteries, tendons, bones and joints come together.
While the theory of Indian massage revolves
around a great deal of unfounded and primarily anecdotal principles of
Eastern philosophy, the practice seems to be sound. It apparently
provides obvious health benefits. using a stimulation of some 107
points on the body, to allow the practitioner to relieve joint stress by the application of gentle pressure.
A Marma Point Massage and the Anguli
During a long marma point masage session,
the massage therapist will generally cover both the front and the back
of the client, using a finger-width of pressure applied at locations
which are known as anguli.
Encompassing an area
which is larger than that used in the practice of acupuncture,
anguli are stimulated in turn, in a method similar to the techniques
used in reflexology,
which is a method of applying pressure to the
hands and feet with the intention of invoking beneficial responses in
various parts of the body.
A Short History of
Dating back to the southern India, circa
1500 B.C., this practice appears to have had its origins in the points
used during a martial art developed there called Kalari.
According to the practitioners of Kalari, marma points are areas which,
when struck a blow, can result in great harm. In the massage technique,
however, these points are used instead to release tension and create
relaxation through the somewhat gentler, yet deep, pressures of the
experienced massage therapist.
About Marma Point
The marma points are stimulated by the
therapist with only the tips of one or two fingers in a very
subtle, low-pressure manner, making use of circular movements to evoke
the desired release. Practitioners work "with" the client,
"on" them, requesting and receiving feedback as the various points are
worked. This is done to ensure that comfort levels are not exceeded.
Typical sessions can take anywhere from an
hour to an hour and a half.
The technique has typically been passed from
master to apprentice, with competence taking a long time to develop.
Many require as long as five years to learn all the points
and how best
to stimulate them.
Growing out of Ayurvedic medicine,
a dedicated student can usually learn the basics at least in a few
months. Much of the preliminary training involves a study of doshas,
which are considered to be a type of energy, according to the
practitioners of this bodywork technique.
A complication of the learning process is
the fact that each point has its own unique name and, additionally, a
relation to other points. Some of the more common ones are
associated with familiar areas on the body, such as the temples, points
found at the base of the skull, on the backs of the knees and the like.
Whatever the validity of underlying theory,
the technique does certainly seem to produce positive benefits when
carried out properly. A marma point massage is a
experience often incorporating the use of sunflower and other oils.