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.
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.