The energetic release and increased metabolic flow you feel during yoga does not happen by accident.
Binds, twists, balances and openings set off a chain reaction of physical and emotional benefits in the body.
Marma points are the places where energy converges in the body. According to classical ayurvedic texts, these nodes can be found where nerves converge with muscle fibers, veins, bones, and joints. The points are junctures in the body where tissue, or the dhatus, meet. When oxygen and blood are delivered to these areas, there is an increase of chi or prana (life force) towards that area of the body.
Consider the placement of your hands, your feet, an elbow a twist, bind or inversion. The shape, the asana in yoga and the angle by which the posture is realized can either enhance the flow of prana or block it.
According to classical ayurveda, the seven bodily tissues are: rasa (white blood cells) rakta (red blood cells), mamsa (muscle tissue), meda (fat, adipose tissue) asthi (bones, cartilage) majja (marrow tissue, connective tissue) and shukra (reproductive tissue). The body is like a super highway where there are intersections of tissue. At various intersections, twists, binds, inversions can enhance energy or prana.
The asana maximize the delivery of oxygen and blood to the body.
There are 108 marma points in the body, in classical ayurveda. If the point is pushed too hard, injury can occur. If the point is stimulated correctly, as we see in the practice of asana, then life-force or prana is enhanced.
Below, I outline how the marma points are stimulated by some common yoga postures/series.
Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutations)
Anterior Upper Body: Urah (Chest)
There are ten marma points or areas affected by the movement practiced in sun salutations. These movements stimulate cardiac function, lungs, thymus and immunity.
Starting with this asana is so important as you stimulate the respiratory system and cardiac output. Sun salutes generate heat in the body and enhance the conductivity of pranic energy; electric current, blood and oxygen.
Upper Back: Prushtha (Back)
There are twelve marma points affected by the actions performed during sun salutations. Here are a few: heart, lungs, bronchial tubes, kidney, bladder, colon, prostrate, cervix, liver, spleen, thyroid and spinal nerves.
Surya Namaskara A, B, and C is so important to yoga pracice as the organs and systems enhanced by the actions performed in this phase are a necessary first step in conditioning the body and mind.
Virabradhasana I, II, III (Warrior series)
The stimulated Marmani in Warrior I, II, and III and IV are in the lower extremities. There are at least six marma points, both posterior and anterior to the leg, which stimulate the heart, circulation, prana, thyroid and kidney.
Bakasana (Crow pose)
Arms- Urdhva Shakhah (Upper Extremities) Marmani
The Marmani stimulated in the arm and hands in crow are many. Urdhva Shakhah (upper extremities) points activated by the knee balanced on the back of the triceps stimulate the lungs, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, spleen and occipital nerves.
For every posture, there is a corresponding marma point. Knowing this can help deepen your yoga experience. Truth be told, the discussion on marma points and yoga postures could go on and on: It is an integral part of my assessment and bodywork.
Author: Ramona Bessinger
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Flickr/Matthew Ragan