Definition - What does Marma mean?
Marma is a Sanskrit word which refers to any open, exposed, weak or sensitive part of the body. In Ayurveda, it is a point in the human body that's located at the intersections of veins, muscles, joints, bones, ligaments or tendons. These points are considered to be vital points because they are infused with prana (life force energy) and are influenced by consciousness. Marma points can be activated by touch or massage, and their violation may be life-threatening.
There has been some discussion about how many marma points exist in the human body. Some traditions believe there are 108 of them, but Ayurvedic texts state that the body has 117.
The fifth limb of yoga, pratyahara (concentration), is related to the marma points. Drawing the prana from these points is considered to be one of the deepest forms of concentration a yogi can practice.
Yogapedia explains Marma
Marma points are an important element of Ayurveda’s healing power. These energy points profoundly affect the body, mind and spirit as well as facilitate the deepest levels of healing. Stimulating marma points directly taps into the individual's reservoir of energy and promotes good health.
The major marma points in the human body are connected to the seven chakras, while the minor marma points are found around the torso and the limbs. Stimulating the marma points affects the chakras and the doshas (types of energy in the body). It also stimulates the various organs and systems of the body.
The main aspect of yoga practice that actively uses the marma points is the practice of pratyahara. "Vasishta Samhita," a yoga text, explains the use of specific marma points for the practice of pratyahara. It states that drawing prana from each of the 18 major marma points is the best expression of this limb of yoga.
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