What is Marma Therapy and How Does It Work?

Woman receiving marma point therapy on her head.

Everything You Need to Know About Marma Therapy Before You Try It.

So, what really is Marma Therapy? This word “marma” is starting to gain more attention in the last few years. I think this has something to do with increased need for answers to unresolved health issues. And more people are looking far back to Ancient times where nature was used in its pure state.

Marma therapy, also called Marma Point Therapy is a gentle touch therapy applied to specific points on the body. These vital points, called “Marma Points” or Marmani (pl) are the centers of extraordinary shifts in energy. This fascinating therapy is an integral part of Ayurveda, the self-healing science from Ancient India, dating back over 5,000 years ago.

In this blog, “What is Marma Therapy and How Does it Work?” I will share Marma Therapy and its benefits: how it can balance your emotions, release negative energy, detoxify, reduce pain, and promote healing. This is the first of many articles on Marma Therapy and Ayurveda. If you are curious about this increasingly popular Ancient Art of Healing make sure to subscribe to our newsletter. You will receive these directly to your inbox!

In today’s world, stress and the demands of modern-day life significantly impact our health. Many conditions do not respond well enough to Western medicine for people to reach optimal function. This is where Ancient Wisdom can step in and provide a nice complement to medical care. Ayurveda balances the subtle mind-body types of the individual (called “doshas”) using natural therapies and lifestyle practices based on your environment. One of these interventions is Marma Therapy or Marma Point Therapy. Before we talk therapy, I need to explain what Marma Points are. 

What Are Marma Points?

There are 107 Marma Points located throughout the entire body. The 108th point is the mind. Each point is located at the anatomical junction of two or more of these tissues: blood vessels, capillaries, nerves, bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments.

In Sanskrit, Marma means “vital energy point” or “secret point”. This means they are also located along the nadis, or energy channels where health or disease can flourish. All three doshas (the subtle energies of vata, pitta, and kapha) exist at these points.

Houseboat on the waters of Kerala, India

Marma Therapy Evolved With the Oldest Form of Martial Arts

Marma also means “fatal energy point”. When certain marmani, are hit with a forceful blow, this can lead to death. Marma therapy originated over 5,000 years ago and developed from the defensive martial art in Kerala, India called “Kalaripayattu”. Also known as Kalari, it is considered by historians to be the oldest form of martial arts. These ancient warriors were trained in Ayurveda and used Marma Points to their advantage. Marma Therapy was also used in sports such as boxing, archery, and wrestling. It has since evolved as a powerful healing therapy to balance the doshas in the individual to stimulate vitality.

What Happens in a Marma Therapy Session?

During therapy, the therapist applies gentle to moderate pressure with their fingertips. This touch could be a stationary hold or circular or linear strokes over the Marma Points. The primary objective is to release blockages and stimulate the healthy flow of prana, the life force that flows throughout the body. 

Traditional Marma Therapy usually starts with a consultation during the first session. This helps the practitioner to determine the specific amount and direction of pressure and which modalities to use, if any. Your benefit is a customized, therapeutic experience!

Treatments are usually performed on a massage table and can last up to 60 minutes, sometimes longer. Marma Therapy can also be performed seated. You may be asked to wear shorts and a tank top or sports bra in case the practitioner needs to access to some key Marma Points. 

In some clinics, Marma Therapy may include additional modalities to enhance the stimulation of the points.

Tuning fork vibration  applied to the back in marma treatment

Oils and Vibration

Essential oils and thailams (Ayurvedic Massage Oils) are powerful in Marma Therapy and are carefully selected according to conditions and doshic imbalances.

Vibration therapy, using a 128 Hz tuning fork can also applied to specific points. This has a dramatic effect in releasing blockage and improving circulation. Clients in my practice sink into a deeper relaxation state with vibration and often report more clarity and less congestion when they come off the table.

Marma Therapy Benefits

This ancient Ayurvedic therapy puts you in a more relaxed state and many clients report mental clarity, reduced anxiety, improved lung capacity, less pain, better sleep, and less joint stiffness, just to name a few. Results, of course, vary from person to person. 

In my practice, I will use oils, vibration, and soft tissue therapy in various combinations to reduce muscle tension and stimulate lymphatic drainage. 

If you found this blog from a Google search on Marma Therapy or Marma Point Therapy, your search results likely included spa treatments and Ayurvedic skin products. There is a significant “spa effect” when you are on the table receiving this calming treatment, which is why it is a beautiful complement to massage therapy.

You may find Marma Therapy on resort spa menus and in massage clinics. These may or may not include the Ayurvedic consultation you would receive in traditional treatments. Finding the best Marma Therapy option for you will be based on your personal goals, how deeply you want to experience Ayurveda and Marma Therapy, and your comfort level.

Rejuvenation and Immunity

The immune-based rejuvenation treatments include my specific protocols to boost energy, improve circulation, and drain toxins by improving lymphatic flow. The most common result is a refreshed glow, a healthier facial tone, and a smiling client who can breathe better!

At the end of each clinic session, clients receive take-home education on specific points to help them maintain the therapeutic effect longer and build improvement between sessions over time.

Now, you are probably wondering….

What Does Marma Therapy Feel Like?

Well, it’s just very relaxing! In fact, some of my clients drift off into a nice sleep. This is a therapy so there may be some discomfort. If there is congestion and toxin buildup in certain areas, those points could be sore and possibly painful. Just breathe through it. If the pressure is too much, don’t hesitate to tell your therapist to lighten up. He or she should be watching for cues and periodically asking how you are feeling throughout the treatment. You may feel a tingling sensation at the point of contact or elsewhere. This is also a sign that the therapy is eliciting a change in the body. The contact duration on Marma Points can range from a few seconds to one minute or longer.

You should be aware that motions are also deeply tied to the Marma Points. For example, if someone is experiencing grief or sadness, the points relating to the heart may be sensitive. It is not uncommon to have an emotional release on the table, so it’s best not to hold back. Release is healthy. 

Marma massage on the foot

Who Can Benefit from Marma Therapy?

Anyone can benefit from Marma Point Therapy. Prevention and maintenance care is less expensive, and very effective and I see this in my chiropractic practice as well! But, we also see clients with the following conditions:

  • Chronic pain or sensitivity.
  • Low energy
  • Inability to focus or shut off the brain.
  • Chronic stress 
  • Back and Neck Pain 
  • Arthritis
  • Suppressed emotions
  • Past trauma
  • Athletic injuries and conditioning
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • TMJ pain and dysfunction
  • Sinusitis
  • Digestive issues

There are a few contraindications to Marma Point Therapy which include spiked fever, varicosities (certain points), pregnancies (certain points), skin rashes, herpes, active chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and acute fractures.

Can You Do Marma Therapy on Yourself?

Yes, you can but specific therapeutic benefits are gained when you are relaxed on a table receiving treatment from a practitioner. Because Marma Therapy is relatively new in America, it may or may not be easy to find a qualified practitioner in your town.

When self-therapy is done properly, particularly on the head, face, and neck, you may have similar effects as you would in a clinical setting. This includes healthier skin, toned facial muscles and reduced lines and wrinkles. There are huge benefits to taking control of your health by learning self-care techniques. This is why my online coaching and training helps clients develop skills to safely maintain better health and gain a little more independence in their healthcare.

I have written an introductory guide to help you prepare for online coaching or simply to help you prepare your own self-care marma routine. You can download it for free, below or find it under resources. 

Marma Point Therapy Self-Care Free Guide
Download the free starter guide for self-care Marma Therapy.

Who Can Administer Marma Therapy?

Marma point therapy should be done by a practitioner trained in this technique. Why? My instructor, Dr. Vasant Lad, of the Ayurvedic Institute said “Marma Points are the pathways to the inner pharmacy of the body, mind, and consciousness.” This tells us that these subtle, yet vital points are impacted at a cellular and energetic level and should be manipulated by a trained practitioner.

Marma Therapy alone is not regulated by a licensing board in the United States. However, because it is a “touch” therapy, practitioners such as massage therapy, physical therapy, and chiropractic should be licensed with their respective boards to administer care. This requirement can vary by country and state. Doctors and therapists can take a one-day or weekend course and then apply it in their practices. In traditional schools, students of Ayurveda learn Marma Therapy fundamentals in their curriculum, but some will go on to complete advanced certification training.  Knowledge of the locations of these points and anatomy, physiology, and pathology are essential for delivering care with a true therapeutic effect. If you are seeking Marma Therapy for any health concerns, a practitioner with this level of training would be the best option.

Are You Ready To Try Marma Therapy?

If you have any questions please post them below in the comments section. Or if you have had Marma Therapy in the past, what was your experience like?

You can visit my contact page to enquire about online consultations and training or book a clinic session if you are in the Phoenix, AZ area. 

Dr. Melanie

Dr. Melanie Dias is a chiropractor in Arizona over 26 years and recently returned from Kerala, India where she experienced Ayurveda at the source. She writes about mindset, productivity, natural health, and beautiful aging on this website. Her passion for health-seeking travels led to her research on alternative medical tourism. You can find these articles in her travel blog www.restorativetravels.com

 In her practice, she incorporates Ayurveda and other modalities into her integrative practice and holds several certifications including Ayurveda, Marma Point Therapy, and Nimmo Receptor Tonus. Online coaching and training for lifestyle, Ayurveda, and self-care Marma Therapy can be requested using the Contact page on her website. 


Free Self-Care Starter Guide for Marma Point Therapy HERE

Article on Marma 101 from Kerala Ayurveda Academy

Ayurveda Videos by Dr. Melanie on YouTube HERE

Subscribe to Dr. Melanie’s “Restorative Travels” Blog and YouTube Channel on her health-based travels. Currently featuring Ayurvedic experiences in Goa and Kerala, India.

What clients are saying: Visit the Marma Therapy Page. (Scroll to the bottom for testimonials.)

Disclaimer: The article is not to be construed as medical advice or replace medical treatment. Please consult with your physician before implementing any therapy or natural products. For a complete disclaimer, please see our health notice.

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