In Ayurveda, marma chikitsa, or marma therapy involves the stimulation of specific points around the body where hyper-sensitive nerve endings cluster, and vital physical and energy structures join or intersect.
Over 2,500 years ago, Sushruta, the “Ayurvedic father of surgery” Sushruta, identified around 107 marma points throughout the nervous system and body. Some marma points are as small as a pinhead; others extend over one centimeter or more.
When stimulated in the right place, in the right way, at the right time, marma points can work in specific regions, and also have more generalised or multiple effects throughout the body. Plus, all of these vital portals help to open up pathways for vital energy (prana) and oxygen to flourish and flow, and eliminate physical and subtle blockages.
Marma chikitsa is ideally performed by an experienced practitioner who provides a series of treatments. However, many points are easy to locate and can be self-stimulated (or performed on a family member) to yield useful results. Especially in emergency situations, and in chronic conditions, self-stimulation can provide immediate relief that gives time to seek further treatment.
Following are three marma points that can be used in situations where breathing becomes difficult in order to help open the airway, reduce “air hunger” and bring in more prana and oxygen.
Begin by applying mild to medium pressure for 1 to 2 minutes, once or twice a day. However, in emergency situations the point(s) can be stimulated for longer periods and more frequently. Always use mild to medium pressure.
In Sanskrit, Kanthanadi refers to the channel of the throat, or more specifically, the windpipe. This point has a close association with the throat all the way into and including the lungs.
Kanthanadi is located in the front of the body, in line with the midline of the neck, in the centre of the groove (known as the suprasternal fossa) above the sternum, between the two collarbones. The point is on top of the bone—the superior aspect—actually in the groove; not in front of it.
Kanthanadi is an important practical emergency point for acute difficulty breathing, including asthma attacks. Stimulating it enables calmer, deeper, easier breathing
Additional benefits of Kanthanadi include:
- Helps to relieve voice and speech disorders, and difficulty swallowing
- Helps to regulate thyroid and parathyroid functions
- Benefits the metabolism
- Supports heart functions
- Helps to release suppressed emotions
Apastambha is located on both sides of the chest about one centimetre* from the midline of the chest in the space between the second and third ribs. From the collarbone, feel the first rib just below, then move over the second rib, to the space between it and the third rib.
*(clinically, the distance is one angula, which is the width of the middle finger measured across the middle/largest joint)
This point on the right side corresponds with the right lung, and left side point with the left lung. Both points can also be pressed together.
Actions of this marma include:
- Facilitates optimal function of lungs and airways
- Relieves lung and airway congestion, including bronchitis
- Reduces shortness of breath and “air hunger”
- Helps to regulate breathing and bronchospasm, and relieve chest pain
- Helps to reduce bronchial asthma
- Helps to manage pleural and pericardial effusion
- Reduces chronic cough; hiccups
- It is also beneficial for many heart conditions
“Kapola” means cheek, and “nasa” translates as nose. This marma point is located on the cheek immediately beside each nostril, nestled in the small bony groove. Benefits of stimulating kapola nasa include:
- Enhances the flow of life-force prāna in the nose, face and lungs. In doing so, it enhances breathing and lung capacity and benefits the entire system.
- Opens the nose and relieves nasal and sinus congestion
- Calms the mind and emotions, especially unresolved sadness and grief
Benefits facial paralysis
Specific essential oils can also be applied to marma sites to enhance the therapeutic effects. In the case of lung congestion and difficulty breathing, warming, energizing oils would be useful, such as vacha, camphor, ginger, clove or eucalyptus oils.
- Additional General Benefits of Marma Chikitsa Include:
- Kindling the digestion and metabolism
- Helping the doshas balance and function naturally
- Changing the body’s neurochemistry towards a more harmonious state
- Enhancing sensory perception
- Alleviating pain
- Helping to release stagnant thoughts, feelings and emotions
- Calming, energizing and balancing the mind
- Stimulating the movement of consciousness to bridge the physical body, mind, and soul
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