Excerpts from Ayurveda and Marma Therapy by Dr.David Frawley, Dr.Subhash Ranade and Dr.Avinash Lele
I. The Seven Tissues
- The body consists of seven prime constituents called dhatus. They are the main substances that do not get eliminated from the body.
- Plasma (rasa dhatu): Plasma and mucous membranes, function of nutrition and affects the skin.
- Blood (raktha dhatu): Hemoglobin portion of blood, function of oxygenation and anatomical counterpart is blood vessels.
- Muscle (mamsa dhatu): Muscle tissue, function of movement, anatomical counterpart is muscles and internal organs.
- Fat (Meda dhatu): Fat or adipose tissue, function of lubricating and cushioning, anatomical counterpart is surrounding adipose formations.
- Bone(asti dhatu): Bone tissue or cartilage, function of support and protection, anatomical counterpart are bones and skeleton.
- Nerve(majja dhatu): Nerve tissue and bone marrow, function of transmission of nerve impulses, anatomical counterpart is brain and spinal cord.
- Reproductive(shukra dhatu): Reproductive tissue and secretions, function of reproduction and anatomical counterparts are testes, uterus.
- The outer tissue s of blood and plasma are affected by digestion of food and drink.
- The inner tissues of nerve and reproduction are mainly affected by our behavior, how we develop our minds and relate to other people.
- The intermediate tissues of muscle, fat and bone have a strong nutritional component nbut are affected by our behavior in terms of exercise and posture.
- malas or waste materias are constituents eliminated from body during the normal course of metabolism. The three main malas are urine, feces and sweat.
- Subtle waste materials (kleda) are eliminated from epithelial linigs of the eyes, nose. mouth, ears and genital organs.
- Main tissue that relaes to kapha is plasma which produces kapha (mucus) as waste material.
- Main tissue that relates to pitta is blood which produces pitta(bile or excess blood) as a waste material.
- Main tissue that relates to vata is bone which holds vata in its joints and porous spaces.
- Channels which supply nutrients, to remove waste materials are called srotas.
- Respiratory System – Pranavaha Srotas: Pranavaha srotas carry prana, the breath or vital force. It relates to subtle or energy body (pranamaya kosha) which envelopes physical body. Prana is absorbed through the lungs and also from food through the digestive tract.
- Digestive System – Annavaha Srotas: These channels that carry food, mainlt in the digestive system.It is called the mahasrotas as it is the main canal in the body, the gastro intestinal tract. It is the dominant system that governs the physical body, which itself is called annamaya kosha or the sheath of food.
- Water metabolism system – Udakavaha or Ambhuvaha Srotas: These are the channels that carry water (udaka or ambhu) and regulate water metabolism. Its origin is soft palate or pancreas. It also governs the assimilation of sugar.
- Sweating System/Swedavaha Srotas: These are the channels that carry sweat or perspiration (sweda). Its originis fat tissue, from which sweat arises.
- Excretory System – Purishavaha Srotas: These are the channels that carry the feces (purisha). Its origin is colon or rectum.
- Urinary System – Mutravaha Srotas: These are the channels that carry urine. Its origin is bladder and kidneys.
- In addition there are seven channel systems, one for each seven tissues:
- Plasma – Rasavaha
- Blood – Rakthavaha
- Muscle – Mamsavaha
- Fat – Medavaha
- Bone – Asthivaha
- Nerve – Majjavaha
- Reproductive – Shukravaha
- Mind – manavaha
- There are 2 more channels in women: the menstrual system or Artavavaha srotas and lactation system or Stanyavaha srotas.
IV. Agni or power of digestion
- The key force responsible for the functioning of the body is Agni.
- There are various agnis, most notable is jatharagni (fire in the belly)
- Working with it are the five elemental agnis (bhutagnis) located in liver which convert digested food mass into appropriate forms of the five elements in the physical body.
- Each of the seven tissues has its own Agni responsible for its specific metabolism which are known as Dhatvagnis.
- In addition to the digestive fire, the breath itself is a gaseous or pranic fire(pranagni) that promotes the proper movement of energy throughout the body.
- Each of the five senses also has its own agni that aids in the reception an recognition of sensory impressions. In the same way, the mind has its own agni though which it digests emotions, ideas and experiences.
Excerpts from Ayurveda and Marma Therapy by Dr.David Frawley, Dr.Subhash Ranade and Dr.Avinash Lele
- Ayurveda rests on the Samkhya philosophy which recognizes two ultimate principles of spirit and matter. Purusha is pure consciousness and prakriti is the nature or the principle of manifestation in time and space.
- In order to attain our higher self (Purusha) we need to first harmonize our embodiment (Prakriti).
- Relative to marmas as energy zones on the body, marmas are zones in the body where Purusha and Prakriti interface.
- The three doshas vata,pitta and kapha rule over our internal climate by their ever changing interactions of movement (vata), heat (pitta) and moisture (kapha).
- Vata is composed of air and ether.
- Vata’s subtle or master form is Prana or the life force, the prime vital energy behind all that we do.
- Vata’s main site is in the digestive system where it accumulates as waste gas. From there it gets transported by the circulatory system to weak sites in the body.
- Depending on site and function, vata is divided into subdoshas
- Prana Vayu: responsible for intake of nutrients that provide fuel for the body and mind, including food, water, air and impressions. Its main region is the head. Prana has special correspondence with nerves.
- Udana Vayu: responsible for the upward movement of energy as in exhalation, speech, will and effort. Its main region is neck. Udana has special correspondence with muscles.
- Vyana Vayu: responsible for the outward movement of energy as in the extension of limbs or arterial flow of blood. Its main region is chest, arms and hands and it is connected to the marmas there. Vyana has special correspondence with ligaments.
- Samana Vayu: responsible for inward movement of energy as in the contraction of limbs and venous flow of blood. It facilitates breaking down and digestion of food. Samana has special correspondence to fat tissue.
- Apana Vayu: responsible for downward movement as in the discharge of feces, urine or menstrual fluid. Its main region is lower abdomen, legs and feet. Apana has special correspondence with bones.
- Pitta is composed of fire and water elements.
- Pitta’s subtle or master form is tejas which provides positive warmth,radiance and insight.
- Pittas main site in the body in the small intestine where it accumulates in the form of acid and heat.
- Pitta is divided into 5 subdoshas:
- Sadhaka pitta: responsible for the digestion of nerve impulses by the brain. Marmas on the skull and brain generally relate to Sadhaka pitta.
- Alochaka pitta: responsible for digestion of light through eyes. Marmas on face and near the eyes relate to Alochaka pitta.
- Bhrajaka pitta: responsible for digestion of sunlight and warmth through the skin. Marmas related to bhrajaka are on the chest.
- Pachaka pitta: responsible for digestion of food through the digestive tract. Marmas in navel area relate to pachaka pitta.
- Ranjaka pitta: responsible for coloring of blood, the bile, the urine and feces and works mainly through liver.
- Kapha is composed of water and earth elements.
- Kapha’s subtle form is Ojas which is essence of all bodily tissues.
- Kaphas main site is stomach where it accumulates in form of mucus or phlegm.
- Kapha is subdivided into 5 subdoshas
- Tarpaka kapha: responsible for brain and nervois system. Marmas relate to region of head, skull, heart and spine.
- Bodhaka kapha: responsible for lubrication of tongue and sense organs. It reates to marmas in region of the head and face.
- Sleshaka kapha: responsible for lubrication of joints. It relates to marmas in joints and extremities.
- Kledaka kapha: responsible of digestive tract. It reates to marmas in the region of stomach.
- Avalambaka kapha: responsible for lubrication of the heart and lungs. It relates to marmas in chest region.
Just as doshas work together for creating health or disease, so do the subdoshas:
- Prana Vayu, Sadhaka pitta and Tarpakha Kapha relate to brain, spine and nervous system and the region of the head, along with the marmas in those areas.
- Udana Vayu, Alochaka pitta, Bodhaka Kapha relate to the senses, faces, mouth and neck along with the marmas in these areas.
- Samana Vayu, Pachaka pitta, Kledaka kapha relate to digestive system mainly to stomach, agni along the marmas in these areas.
- Vyana vayu, bhrajaka pitta and sleshaka kapha relate to the skin, joints, extremities and surface of the body, along with marmas in these areas.
- Apana vayu, Ranjaka pitta, Avalambaka kapha relate to internal organs of lower abdomen, middle abdomen and chest along with marmas in these areas.
- The intent of all Vedic sciences are to lead us Godward and are means to depict and manifest God’s glory. Be it astrology, ayurveda, dance or vasthu, all these sciences and arts are a way to making man take another step towards the divine.
- Prana (or life force) is the most important factor for health and therapeutic treatment.
- The higher forms of Yoga are concerned with the development of this prana shakthi. Marma therapy is a multidimensional approach to health that included physical, energitic and mental sheaths (Annamaya, Pranamaya and Manomaya Koshas) that in turn have an effect on the souls apprarent journey home.
- Marmas are a part of a greater sacred physiologyy that maps out the body according to subtle energy currents and power points. The body has its own special sacred points just as the Earth has its sacred currents and energy currents according to sacred geography.
Marmas and Vedic Sciences
- Just as mantras are the seed powers that underlie speech and language, so marmas are the seed sites that underlie the body and its movement.
- The Vedic vision regards the entire universe or macrocosm as the cosmic person or Purusha, within the human body as a replica a microcosm. This means that the mapping of the energy fields in the human body reflects that of the universe as a whole.
- Marma was part of Dhanur veda The four upavedas are: Dhanur veda-Martial arts, Ayurveda – Medicine for both body and mind, Gandharva veda- music, dance and literature, sthapatya veda-vasthu or directional influences and architecture.
Marmas and Ayurveda
- Through the right use of marmas our entire physical and mental energy can be consciously increased decreased or redirected in a transformative manner.
- When manipulated, marmas can alter both the organic function and structural condition of the body.
- At marma sites toxins, stress and negative emotions get lodged and are held sometimes for years. Relieving pain, blockage or swelling at marma sites is an important therapeutic aid and one of the first stages of many Ayurvedic treatments.
Marmas and System of Yoga
- Marmas are key energy centers for the practice of yoga on all levels from yoga postures o deep meditation.
- Yoga postures affect the energy held in the limbs, joints and spine whic contain important marmas. Asanas can be used to stimulate and balancec marmas in various ways.
- Marmas connect to the nadis(subtle nerves) and chakras of the subtle body and mind. Thus marmas are important for healing subtle and physical body.
- Marmas similarly have a place in higher Yoga practies of concentration, mantra and meditation. Special mantras can be used with particular mamas in order to increase physical or psychological strength, adaptibility and immunity.
Marma, tantra and Siddha medicine
- According to the Siddha system, the entire universe originates from the union of Lord Shiva- Being Sat and his wife Parvati-energy or consciousness force (Cit-Shakthi). Prana at rest is Shiva and in motion is Parvati. The marma as a form of treatment connects to both Shiva and Shakthi forces.
- The Siddha system refers to marmas relative to the effects of the moon and the planets on the human body, bringing in an astrological link as well.
Marmas and Martial Arts
- Marmas were associated with the use of armor for the body, which was devised to protect these vital points from injury.
- Rig Veda speaks of using protective coverings to protect these marmas. It refers to prayer or mantra as the best protection.
- Mahabharatha contains many references to marma. It mentions protective coverings for the marmas of elephants and horses as well as soldiers. At that time great warriors coud use their powers of Prana and mental force as fighting tools, energizing arrows with natural forces like fire and lightning.
- The highest form of martial arts is the marma Adi of which knowledge of the marmas was the central part.
I’ve picked up the this book authored by Dr.David Frawley, Dr.Subhash Ranade and Dr.Avinash Lele, all of them well renowned experts on marma therapy and Ayurveda in general. This time instead of writing a haphazard review of any book, I want to go chapter by chapter and point out the salient points in a simplified format for my reference or for anyone is reading this blog. I know that most Ayurvedic texts (or in fact any ancient text) can get pretty dry and one has to constantly keep looking at the big picture to avoid getting lost and thats the reason I want to keep these blog posts as simple as possible and wanted to do a chapter by chapter review so that its simple and at the same time nothing important is missed.
So hopefully at the end of 12th chapter I will have a pretty good understanding of the marma’s of Ayurveda.
Continuing with Dr.Simon’s book on “The Wisdom of Healing”, there is another useful technique that can be (should be) followed while eating. The various points are detailed as follows:
- Eat in a settled environment: If you are in a chaotic surroundings, you are a metabolizing the chaos along with your food. Try not to be watching a violent television shows while eating dinner. Enjoy your meals in silence or with people you love.
- Never eat when upset: A wounded heart releases poweerful emotional chemicals that are released which do not contribute to optimal digestion. Wait until you have settled down a bit, listen to your appetite, and then use food to fill your metabolic, not your emotional needs.
- Always sit down to eat: If you cant eat with your full attention on your food, wait until you can.
- Eat only when you feel hungry: Think of your appetite as a fuel guage with zero being empty and ten being full, wait until when you are are a siz or seven. This means eat when you are really hungry and stop when you are comfortably full. If we eat consciously, we cannot miss the signals that a healthy physiology provides.
- Reduce ice-cold food and drink: Ice tends to numb our taste buds. It is only best to do so when our digestive power is at its strongest that is during the noon meal.
- Eat at a moderate pace: When you eat with awarenes the pace will be appropriate fo maximal digestion because you will have savored each mouthful before you are ready for the next.
- Wait until one meal is digested before starting the next(2 to 6 hours): This again requires us to be in touch with our bodies. It is useful to place your attention consciously on your stomach and even place your hand on your belly to docus your awareness. Eat only when your stomach is calling for more.
- Slip warm water with your meals: THis helps in the digestive process work efficiently. By avoiding ice-cold drinks your digestive enzymes can function optimally.
- Eat freshly cooked meals: The life force is greatest in meals prepared with fresh ingredients. The delicious smells andpleasing display of a freshly prepared meal stimulate the appetite and the secretion of digestive enzymes even before food is placed in the mouth.
- Reduce raw foods: Even though raw vegetables are richest in essential nutrients, if we cannot assimilate them they are of little value. Appropriate cooking begins the digestive process allowing us to extract maximal nourishment from our food.
- Experience all six tastes at every meal: If all six tastes are represented you will be fully satisfied at the end of a meal. When you feel that you have eaten an adequate volumes of food but still feel hungry, it usually implies that one of the tastes was missing. If you consciously identify and consume the missing taste you will feel satisfied.
- Drink milk separately from meals: Milk is a complete food by itself.
- Leave one third to one fourth of your stomach empty to aid digestion: Leaving some space allows the churning process to optmize digestion. This state of fullness can be recognized when you feel satisfied froma meal without being stuffed.
- Sit quietly for a few minutes after your meal: Eating is a sacred process. It is a magical transformation that allows for the energy of the universe to be transformed into the intelligence of our body. Savor the moments after a meal to appreciate the magic