We're all familiar with pressure points in the body and the deep impact they can have on our wellbeing. In yoga, these pressure points are called Marma.
Ayurvedic texts outline 117 yoga pressure points or marma points. They have both a diagnostic and a curative feature. Diagnostic in that – when you press on the marma point – if there is a pain or sensitivity – that will alert you to an imbalance in the corresponding organ. Curative in that the stimulation of this point will have a positive effect in itself. Applying gandha or herbal oils to these points will have a more deeply penetrative and healing quality to the touch.
These points – while we reach them via the physical body – they are infused with vital energy (prana) and they serve at a bridge so they will work on all 5 levels of the body – they link mind, body and soul. They are vortices of Yogic healing.
Marma points and Acupressure points
One of my very favourite parts of working with intuitive self-care is that it all dove-tails beautifully. Though western medicine is wonderful – it often conflicts with itself and how regularly are we prescribed medicines that will help one part of the body but harm another? (a dizzying array of potential side-effects). It's a different picture when we move to eastern medicine. Chinese Acupressure points and Ayurvedic pressure points do not in any way disagree with eachother. In fact almost three-quarters of the marma points correspond exactly with chinese traditional medicine (TCM).
How do Yoga Pressure Points work?
Applying pressure to the marma point will work in 3 ways according to renowned ayurvedic doctor Dr. Vasant Lad:
- it re-ignites the agni (fire) which brings healing
- it burns cellular ama (toxicity) – so it detoxes and so clears the channels
- it breaks down the crystals of unresolved emotions.
Dr. Lad also holds that the marma points are more responsive to the biochemistry of essential oils – thus we have a sub-school in Ayurveda called Gandha Chikitsa – topical application of Gandha or essential oils for mind-body healing - which is what yogandha is all about. So if working with a specific area - you can apply a mindful roll-on to that pressure point. Or if working with a more generalised area - use the yogandha body oils. For which oil to use - I always recommend to go with the benefit your body most needs - and to go with your gut feeling, that in itself is building your abilities in intuitive self-care.
Here are 4 yoga pressure points that will detox the body:
1. The outside of the right elbow (Kurpara marma)
First rub in circular motion in an anti-clockwise direction to detoxify, then in a clockwise direction to nourish. yogandha detox has been prepared specifically for detoxing the body. This you can easily do yourself with yogandha detox as part of your morning ritual. Mantra is part of Marma - so say a detoxing mantra or affirmation while you are massaging the marma point.
2. The right knee (Janu marma). Massage exactly as above. If you have pain in the joint - you may prefer to use yogandha muscle Ssoothe - but remember this is a marma point that will stimulate a body detox. The point is specifically located at the right knee (the liver is on the right side of the body).
3. The abdomen (nabhi marma)
Rub the whole abdomen around the navel in a clockwise direction – in line with the digestive tract. To cleanse and reduce ‘fire in the belly’ – (in Ayurveda - Agni) use yogandha detox. To increase warmth and stimulate Agni, use yogandha muscle Soothe. Even just placing the hand on this area is hugely soothing, so make a habit of this. Again, mantra will deepen the practice. Remember with the belly - emotions are stored here too, so a deep detox here will release emotions. Be gentle with yourself.
4. The soles of the feet
Here you will actually cover many marma points and help to detox the whole body. Rub the soles of the feet every evening with either yogandha Detox if you are actively cleansing the body, or yogandha Relax if the purpose is to let go of the day before a entering a deeper and more restful sleep.
If you are a yoga teacher - please introduce these simple self-massage techniques to your students. It teaches us to use our own hands for our own self-healing. And it deeply connects us with ourselves.
If you are not - simply integrate with your self-care practice - can do in the shower in the morning!
How much pressure to use:
Go with your gut – if an area is sensitive, breathe into it, be gentle, be aware and see how that sensitivity changes over time. Resist the urge to be too heavy handed. Learning to be gentle with ourselves will serve us deeply in our self-care.