Where does the marma therapy come from?
Dr Sujay Krishnan: Marma therapy is part of Ayurveda. Traditionally the marma therapy was applied by Ayurveda physicians before a surgical operation for local anaesthesia of the body area to be operated on.
On the other hand, this knowledge is also part of the Kalari martial arts, which is practiced in the southern regions of India – especially in the state of Kerala.
What does marma mean?
Dr Sujay Krishnan: The father of surgery, Sushruthacharya, defines marma as ”Marayathi ithi marma“ – which means: When vital anatomical parts of the body are injured, the injury of these points causes pain, dysfunction of organs or even sudden death.
The word marma can be translated as “a tender and at the same time vital point at the juncture of muscles, nerves, ligaments, bones, sinews, arteries and veins – whereby in this point either two, three or all of the structures mentioned are connected with each other.”
The activities of the marmas are controlled by prana vayu (fundamental energy, which drives our life). This prana vayju is essential for life or the length of life of a person. If a marma gets injured, the function of the organs can be impaired to such a degree that the patient loses his or her life – due to the gradual loss of prana vayu.
What marmas are there ?
Dr Sujay Krishnan: There are 108 marmas in the human body. They can be divided up into five categories. The basis for this classification is the type of vulnerability which is revealed after the injury of the marma:
(1) SADHYA PRANAHARA MARMA: If a marma which falls into this category is injured, immediate (sadhya) death (pranahara) can be the result due to the spontaneous loss of prana vayu.
(2) KALANTHARA PRANAHARA MARMA: Injury of marmas of this category leads to a gradual (kalanthara) loss of life (pranahara) after a certain period of time.
(3) VISHALYAGHNA: The word shalya refers to a foreign body. When a foreign object passes through this type of marma, the injured person will survive as long as the foreign object remains in the wound. As soon as the foreign object is removed, the injured person will die.
(4) VAIKALYAKARA: The word vaikalya means deformation. Injuries of this type of marma cause deformations of those organs which depend on the energy supply of this particular marma.
(5) RUJAKARA MARMA: Injury of this marma does not cause any deformation of the organs, nor does it cause the death of the injured person. Here the injury of the marma causes unbearable pain (ruja).
For which type of health problem does the application of the marma treatment produce especially good results?
Dr Sujay Krishnan: Marma Chikitsa, this wonderful science, plays an important role in the removal of the obstacles in the flow of prana (life) energy in the body. It helps many people to recover from chronic pain and disorder of local organs.
Here a selection of illnesses for which Marma therapy has proved highly effective and healing:
- sciatic pains
- twitching and cramps
- facial and abdominal paralyses
- spondylosis of the lumbar spine
- slipping vertebrae in the area of the lumbar spine (prolapsed intervertebral disc or bulge)
- spondylosis of the cervical spine
- slipping vertebrae in the area of the cervical spine (prolapsed intervertebral disc or bulge)
- shoulder-arm syndrome
- carpal-tunnel syndrome
Which concrete experience were your patients able to make after the application of a marma therapy?
Dr Sujay Krishnan: In Kerala I was able to gain a lot of experience in conjunction with marma therapy, but at this point I would like to report the case of a German female patient:
Three months ago a woman came to see me because the rotating and backward mobility of her right arm and right hand was severely restricted. For example, it was impossible for her to close her brassiere without any help from another person. She complained about severe pain when moving her wrist and shoulder.
Her medical history: One year previously she had had an accident, during which her right-hand radial bone was broken. She had an operation, but after four weeks it turned out that the operation had not been successful. The patient underwent a second operation, whereupon the fracture was able to heal – but now the problems mentioned above occurred. She tried a number of different therapies, but until she came to see me nobody had been able to recognise the true cause of her pains.
During my examination, I diagnosed problems with the following marmas:
Urvi, Ani, Kurpara, Kurchashira and Manibandha marma.
Subsequently I explained the marma therapy to her and recommended three therapy sessions.
On the first day, the treatment was very painful for the patient. But, she was impressed: Now she was able to move and turn her arm to the back and to the top – even if this continued to be painful.
After the third session she was able to move her right arm without help and without pains.
Another thing has to be noted in this case: The patient received the marma treatment alongside with a Panchakarma treatment. I am sure that this combination has contributed to relieving the lady from her pains so fast.
On the last day she said: “Marma therapy is the magic of Ayurveda!” I think that this is true – whereby the magician always is God in the end.
What does marma therapy look like “from the outside”? Do you use special oils and/or instruments?
Dr Sujay Krishnan: Marma therapy looks like a normal or perhaps also like a special massage. For better results we use selected special oils. The massage techniques are different. They depend on which part of the body shall be treated. Instruments are not applied. In this case it is a form of pure manual therapy.
What happens “inside the patient”, when a marma point is treated during the marma therapy?
Dr Sujay Krishnan: When we touch a marma point, the patient can notice a reaction in his or her body and the corresponding organ. When the marma point is disturbed, the patient will feel strong pain, and the body will react to this pain.
Some marma points have an anaesthetic effect: When we exert pressure on these points, the patient becomes unconscious or the corresponding area of the body feels numb.
Should the patient keep to certain rules after a marma therapy?
Dr Sujay Krishnan: It is advisable to give the body a very good rest, and to avoid hard work by all means.
Can patients treat themselves with marma therapy?
Dr Sujay Krishnan: Marma therapy can be carried out only by an Ayurveda doctor or a marma expert. Those who want to apply the marma therapy need to have very good knowledge in Rachana sarari (Ayurvedic anatomy of the human) and have to be well-versed in marma anatomy. And the person should acquire a lot of experience first of all in co-operation with an experienced marma therapist before he may set up his own practice. For this reason alone, a self-treatment is not recommendable for patients.
Marma therapy is an excellent technique in Ayurveda, but it has to be handled very conscientiously and very responsibly.
How many treatments are sensible?
Dr Sujay Krishnan: Three to five treatments are required.