However, could it actually be something more?
Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest healing systems, would say that there is more to it because when the face is touched, a concentrated field of energy that is rich with clusters of marma points is being activated. Marma points are hidden, vital, or secret points on the surface of the skin that, when awakened by gentle touch, profoundly affect bodily tissues, state of mind, and the deeper consciousness or spirit.
Like many of the ancient healing systems from all over the world, and the modern theories of quantum physics, Ayurveda teaches that a human being is not a solid, permanent, material structure, but rather an ever-changing, dynamic, dancing mass of energy, light, and intelligence that is deeply connected to the limitless field of the whole universe. The body is most connected or linked at marma points or points where energy is concentrated. These points are vital because they are full of prana or chi (life force), consciousness, and awareness. Deepak Chopra says, “marma points are where the subconscious eavesdrops on the inner dialogue.” They are where people connect and respond to the world around them and to their personal take on it, or their internal chatter. Thus, these clusters of pure energy bridge the inner and outer world and the body, mind, and spirit.
Of the 117 major marma points, a full third of them are found between the upper chest and the top of the head, the very area that is touched during a facial. When working with marma points, the practitioner can be confident that they are helping the client feel more connected, less isolated, and better in touch with themselves and everything around them. Clients that are more connected feel happier in their body and more confident, clear, and calm.
Many people wonder whether or not marma points are the same as the acupoints used in Chinese medicine and shiatsu. Interestingly, 75 of the 117 principal marma points are exactly in the same places as traditional acupuncture or acupressure points. They have other similarities too. Both are said to be richly supplied by nerves, blood vessels, and the lymphatic system; able to help balance the autonomic nervous system; capable of initiating the release of endorphins and neurotransmitters that effect the mood; and able to effect tissues, both locally at a distance or deeper in the body, reflexively.
Ayurveda does, however, describe the way marma points function a little differently. Touching marma points is said to discharge a flow of energy through the subtle energy channels of the body, which are able to redistribute and rebalance the energies in the tissues in a way that promotes healing and the maintenance of vitality. Marma, though many of them have the same sites as acupressure points, work on a grid connected to the chakras. The chakras are, in fact, mega-marma points. Marma points can also vary in size and seem to benefit from gentle, rather than deep, touch. Interestingly, marmas on the chest are the same as lymphatic gates used in drainage techniques.
Though science can still not explain how marma points work, they are sometimes likened to little eyes that are always alert and able to communicate what is needed to maintain the body’s health, beauty, and balance. They not only work to keep the body healthy, but also work to keep the mind calm and clear and the spirit at peace. But just like the eyes, marma points can either be open or closed and may or may not see clearly. When the marma points are open with perfect vision, people age gracefully, heal well, are inclined to make healthy choices, and feel loving toward one another and the environment. When the points become closed or partly closed due to physical injury, emotional stress, poor diet, inefficient digestion, or conflicting emotions, the body suffers and ages prematurely; the mind becomes confused, distracted, and stressed; and the individual feels disconnected and socially irresponsible. Everyone would be happier, more attractive, and more in tune if their marma points were open; but how can clients reopen them or keep them open? Many things that are experienced in the spa do just that. Marma points love and reawaken with a gentle touch, generally and more so to specific points; a heartful, caring energy; inspiring music or a sacred sound; therapeutic aromas; pure light; movement that is specific to, but not exclusive to, yoga postures; feeling safe and protected; and being honored as a blessed being.
The ideal spa environment and perfect facial does feel good, but mainly because it works to open the marma points; the more specific professionals can be with their touch and products, the better the treatment will feel and the deeper it will go.
A PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF MARMA POINTS
Where are these precious points and when can they be used? The following text puts different marma points together in small groups that can be used to address specific, common difficulties when working on a client. All movements are described with the professional standing behind the top of the head of the client and with the client lying in the supine position.
Quickly and Deeply Calming the Client
The following three points can be used at the beginning of every treatment to help the client quickly change gears and slip into deep relaxation. Rest the fingers on either side of the client’s head with the thumbs resting on the midline of the head. At the crown of the head (point 1, murdhni GV-20), work in 30, gentle, clockwise circles using the pad of the thumb. Work at a steady pace with gentle pressure. While touching these three points, ask the client to stay quiet. Next, repeat the circles three finger widths in front of this point (point 2, brahmarandra GV-21); this point is the anterior fontanel area (the soft spot on a baby’s head). While still supporting the client’s head with the fingertips, move four finger widths behind the crown point and repeat the same 30, clockwise circles (point 3, shivarandra GV-19); the middle finger can also be used to do this movement so that the wrist can be comfortable. All three of these points ask the body to make serotonin, the chemical messenger that tells the body and mind to relax; it also relays a feeling of safety and security and can help the client go deeper into a calm, clear, and relaxed state. Points one through three may also be helpful for relieving insomnia, calming emotions, relieving headaches, and promoting creativity, intelligence, and memory.
Relieving Stress Headaches
Touch the point on the midline of the client’s head at the front hair line by pressing and releasing five or seven times (point 4, kapala GV-24). Next, support the head with four fingertips and use the thumb to work in 30, gentle, clockwise circles over the very middle of the forehead (point 5, ajna or sthapani); gently massage the hollow of both temples (point 6, shankha) with the index and middle fingers.
Points four through six may also be helpful for improving intuition, insight, and memory and calming emotional disturbances, including ADHD. These points also work on the fine lines that develop across
Soothing Eyestrains and Encouraging an Emotional Release
Working above each eyebrow, one side at a time (starting on the right side), press and release five to seven times on the point just above the eyebrow on the side that is nearest to the nose (point 7, bhruh antara BL-2); repeat this movement above the midpoint of the eyebrow (point 8, bhruh madhya) and just above the outerpoint of the eyebrow (point 9, bhruh agra). Repeat this movement on the three points in the same location but, this time, just below the eyebrow on both sides. Using both index fingers, pinch either side at the top of the nose near the inner corner of the eye (point 10, kaninaka). Using the index fingers once again, right eye and then left eye, gently press and jiggle up and down at the outer corner of the eye, slightly between the eyeball and the boney orbit of the skull. Keep all pressure outward and away from the eye (point 11, apanga GB-1). Points seven through 11 are also helpful for sinus problems, headaches, and general stress.
Releasing Sinus Congestion
Using the index fingers, gently press and release five to seven times on both sides of the nose, just above the cheek bone (point 12, urdhva ganda); repeat this motion just below the cheek bone (point 13, adhah ganda) and in the hollow where the nostrils join the face (point 14, kapla nasa). Points 12 through 14 can also help release emotions that have been suppressed by uncried tears.
Improving Memory and Concentration and Helping to Stop Fainting or Dizziness
This marma point is helpful to know if the client is feeling a little altered by a deeply relaxing or a gently-detoxifying treatment. Simply press up to 21 times, in a gentle manner, on the middle of the upper lip (point 15, ostha). Point 15 is also great for helping to improve digestion and helping the client to feel more alert.
Improving Color and Tone of the Skin
Gently press and release on the point in the middle of the chin below the lower lip (point 16, hanu) to improve the skin's color and tone. Point 16 is also said to help with hormonal balance and problems in the lower pelvis.
Calming and Helping with Deep Breathing
Rest one hand on the top of the client’s shoulder and use the thumb of the other hand to gently press and release three times in the hollow at the top of the sternum. The pressure on this point should be directed toward the feet, not into the body (point 17, kanthanadi CV-22). Proceed to press and release on the very top of the center of the sternum (point 18, jatru) and then on the midsternum (point 19,
hridayam CV-18). Point 19 can be very helpful if a client gets overly emotional and is unable to stop crying. Just rest the whole hand over the midsternum and slip the other hand under the client and hold their midback. The client will feel supported and the traumatic feelings will dissipate.
Many of these points will be touched during the standard strokes of a facial, but even greater benefits may happen when more specific points are gently touched and the marma points are awakened. Of course, ayurvedic facials do include all of these points and more on the head, scalp, neck, and shoulders. Just as with western facials, ayurvedic facials use customized products; the ayurvedic products, however, are made with natural products that are so harmless that they are edible. These products include ingredients such as barley flour, rose petals, jojoba, avocado, apricot, grape seed oils, pure clays, and toning herbs such as amla, ashwaganda, and tulsi.
Now that Ayurveda has been declared one of the top spa trends, professionals can expect to see more about marma, massage, and Indian herbs. Though deceptively simple and easy to learn, they are truly transformative and offer clients a different experience. Some clients feel relaxed for the first time as these magical points flood the body with serotonin. Other clients are amazed by how much stress leaves their face and how much younger they look and feel. Facials with marmas are also a great way to get facial clients interested in full body massage. Furthermore, additional work on the face during a massage is a great way to get massage clients into facials. Whether it is known or not, facials do feel particularly wonderful because so much energy can be moved, redirected, and balanced using the energy points that are concentrated all over the face, neck, and shoulders.
The pioneer of integrating Indian and Tibetan Ayurvedic bodywork techniques in the spa and beauty industry, Melanie Sachs has worked steadily over the last 25 years to bring the benefits of these sacred healing arts to the western world. Founding Diamond Way Ayurveda in 1996 with her husband, Sachs provide excellence in education and the pure Ayurvedic spa products and equipment with which to perform these classic treatments. Sachs is author of Ayurvedic Beauty Care and Ayurvedic Spa. ‘Diamond Way’ comes directly from the Tibetan meaning that our path to the highest joy is through helping others. It is this core belief is the fuels the energy behind her work.