The word asana can be commonly translated as posture. Its literal meaning is the seat or posture adopted during meditation, which promote the mental concentration. As a rule a healthy mind lives in a healthy body, and these postures give a positive effect on health and may cure a number of diseases.
As you know we adopt some postures for different routine or specific works. As for cycle or motorcycle driving we have to adopt a specific posture, or office work or computer work needs sitting posture on a chair, in the same way, during self-marma therapy we have to adopt specific postures to derive maximum benefit from the technique.
How do yogic postures and pranayama affect the body and mind? What is the scientific explanation of it? How one can reenergize the body and mind by adopting some specific postures for a few minutes? These are few questions, which come in the mind of a yoga student or practitioner.
In reply to these questions it is very important to understand the importance of marma points. These marma have control on different body functions and any trauma to these parts may give rise to many complications. By yogic postures and pranayama, by their stretch, pressure, vibration and rhythmic movement, the activity of marma get affected. It also affects the functioning of the organ related to the particular marma. It is apparent that the yogic postures and pranayama affects the body and mind by the stimulation of marma. All the yogic postures in which the body is moved forward and backward affect the marma of abdomen, chest and back. These marma can be energized by regular practice of yoga and pranayama.
One can achieve the same benefits of exercises with the selfmarma therapy. As we know that exercise is necessary for the body strength and normal body functioning, we can say that self-marma therapy is a short cut key to the yoga, pranayama and other physical exercises.
The important yogic postures and pranayama are discussed with their effects.
Lotus Pose (Padmasana):-
In this posture the base of the legs looks like a lotus. So it is known as Padmasana. Tomake the proper lotus pose sit on the floor with crossed legs. Raise the left foot up onto right thigh, as near to the anterior part of right hip joint as possible; place right foot on the left thigh, near to the anterior part of the left hip joint. During this posture the knee should be placed on the surface and the soles should be in upward direction. Keep the head, neck, and spine in a straight line; hands should rest on knees. This is the best pose for meditation. During this pose breathe naturally. Women are suggested to reverse the legs, placing the left foot on top.
Benefits:- Regular practice of Lotus pose calms the mind and pushes the prana into
sushumna. The position of the crossed legs holds the spine in its natural curve; allows the vital organs to fall into correct position; gives rest to the heart; and makes hips, knees and ankles flexible. Regular practice of padmasana improves the psychosomatic functions. It purifies the whole nervous system of the body by the energy accumulated at muladhara chakra. When the whole nervous system gets purified it is helpful to keep the body Healthy physically and mentally. So this posture is useful in many psychosomatic disorders and helps in a number of sexual ailments.
In this posture both heels are paced over the vitapa marma. During lotus pose continuous pressure over vitapa marma is helpful in inguinal hernia, hydrocele, varicocele and it improves the function of the urogenital system. When a person practices the aswini mudra during lotus pose it stimulates the central nervous system and it cures haemorrhoids, prolapsed rectum, prolapsed uterus, benign prostatic hyperplasia and atony bladder. For self-marma therapy it is the most suitable pose for the stimulation of marma of lower extremity especially kshipra, tala hridaya, kurca and kurcasira. This postures stimulates the marma of lower extremity especially gulpha(ankle joint) and janu (knee joint).
It is the most popular pose of yogis. Regular practice of adept’s pose provides many
physical and spiritual gains. After sitting on crossed leg posture place left heel under the
testicles and lift the right heel resting on the genitalia and over the left heel. Head, neck and spine should be in a straight line. There should be no extra pressure on the genitalia and testicles. Women should place left heel in front of anus, right heel on top of left. Keep head, neck, and spine in a straight line and breathe naturally.
Benefits:- Adept’s pose purifies the nervous system. It helps in maintaining celibacy or continence. It pushes vital energy, prana, into susumna. In this posture the heels provide pressure on guda and vasti marma and it is helpful to eradicate the diseases of anorectal region and urogenital system. It is very useful in atony bladder, retention of urine, urinary incontinence, benign prostatic hyperplasia and anorectal disease. After the age of 45 years every person should practice adepts pose regularly to avoid the urogenital problems. This pose is highly recommended for meditation.
Cow’s Head Pose (Gomukhasana) :-
To adopt Cow’s Head pose sit with right leg folded over left; as a result the right knee will be above the left knee. Try to bring the feet towards the back, resting at the side of the hips. Raise right arm overhead and bend the elbow so that the hand hangs down at the back. Place left hand behind back and take hold of right hand. Breathe in slowly and extend by pulling up with right arm and down with left arm. Hold the breath during pose, keeping spine, neck and head in straight line, right arm up and held down with left arm. Breathe out slowly, reversing legs and arms. Repeat the pose on the other side in the same manner. Persons who cannot clasp the hands may bring together the upper hand and lower hand as much as possible
Benefits: – Regular practices of Cow’s Head pose strengthens the spine. It aids in celibacy, helps remove muscular pains in the back and shoulders, cures abdominal weaknesses, andalleviates indigestion and insomnia. In this pose, marmas of the back, thorax and abdomen, and upper and lower extremities get affected.
Shoulder Stand Pose (Sarvangasana): -
To adopt this pose lie flat on the back with arms parallel to body. Raise legs slowly untilthey make a right angle with the body trunk. Then with the arms flat on the floor raise the body straight up on shoulders with the head and shoulders resting on the ground, balance on the shoulders and breathe naturally. One can support the back with the hands during this pose
Benefits: – it strengthens the entire body. It regulates the functions of thyroid and parathyroid glands. It improves the metabolic activities of the body and the function of endocrine system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system and nervous system. One can get all benefits of headstand pose. In this pose the blood circulation increases in chest, neck and brain. In this posture amsa, amsa phalaka, vrihati, parsvasandhi, hridaya, stanamula, stanarohita, apalapa, all marms of neck and head get affected.
Plough Pose (Halasana):-
In continuation of the Shoulder Stand pose, lower the legs over the head keeping knees and arms straight. Touch the floor with the toes. After a few seconds inhale slowly and return back to shoulderstand pose. In the same way ear-knee pose (karnapidasana) can be adopted by bending legs and bringing knees forward and towards the ears. Hold the breath out in the pose; then inhale slowly and return to shoulder stand and inhale slowly, then exhale into the ear-knee pose. The plough pose is complementary to the bow pose.
Benefits: -In addition it tones spinal nerves, muscles of the back, and the sympathetic nervous system. Makes the spine flexible, prevents laziness, and relieves constipation. In this posture amsa, amsa phalaka, vrihati, parsvasandhi, hridaya, stanamula, stanarohita, apalapa, all marmas of neck and head get affected. Krikatika marma is very much affected during the flexion of neck over the chin.
Wind-Releasing Pose (Pavanmuktasana):-
To adopt this pose lie on the back, inhale slowly and fold the left knee onto the chest, pulling it firm by clasping the hands around it, trying to touch head to knee, keeping the right leg straight. Hold the breath during pose; subsequently exhale while lowering leg and head. Repeat with right leg; and then with both legs together.
Benefits: – Releases abdominal flatulence, improves indigestion, and reduces abdominal fat. It gives positive effect on the inflammatory lesions of large intestine and other abdominal organs. In this posture vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi and thorax marma get affected.
Fish Pose (Matsyasana):-
To adopt this pose lie on the back with arms at the sides; then, by pushing down on the floor with the elbows, inhale slowly and curve the back so that the top of the head rests on the floor. Try to raise the chest as high as achievable. Place hands on chest, palms together, with fingers pointing towards chin. Hold breath in pose; then exhale slowly and return to starting position. The Fish pose is a counter pose for the Shoulder stand, and is complementary to the Rabbit Pose (sasakasana).
Benefits: - Regular practice of the Fish pose expands the chest, strengthens the lungs, and brings oxygenated blood to the thyroid and parathyroid glands. It is useful for asthma and bronchitis. In this posture kakshadhara, vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi and thorax marma get affected. It also affects the krikatika, adhipati and simanta marmas.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana):-
To adopt this pose lie face down on the floor. Place palms on floor at the side of shoulders. Inhale and slowly raise head and chest, arching the neck in hyper extension looking up and back. Hold breath during pose; subsequently exhale and come down slowly. This pose is complementary to the back-stretching exercises.
Benefit: – Regular practice of Cobra pose makes the spine stretchy; relieves gastro-intestinal disorders; expands the chest, in this manner strengthening the lungs and heart; awakens kundalini. The cobra pose is recommended for women after childbirth because it strengthens the reproductive organs and other organs of thorax and abdomen. In this posture kakshadhara, vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi, thorax marma and marma of lower extremity get affected.
Bow Pose (Dhanurasana):
To adopt this pose lie face down on the floor. Bend the knees, try to reach back and hold the ankles with hands. Inhale and try to lift head, chest, and thighs as high as possible, stretching the body into a bow shape. Try to keep the head back. Hold breath during pose; subsequently exhale slowly releasing legs and coming down. The Bow pose is opposite to the Plough pose.
Benefits: – Regular practice of the Bow pose strengthens the spine, intestines, liver, and kidneys; improves digestion; reduces fat; and makes the body flexible. In this posture vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi and thorax marma and marma of lower extremity get affected.
Wheel Pose (Chakrasana):-
To adopt this pose lie on the back, put the hands beside the ears, palms down and fingers pointing towards the feet. Try to bend the knees and pull the feet close to the hips. Subsequently inhale slowly and raise body up and try to balance on hands and feet. Hold breath during pose; afterwards exhale at the same time as lowering the body back to floor.
Benefits: – Regular practice of Wheel pose affects the whole body, especially the spine; strengthens the upper and lower extremities. It gives vitality, strength, energy and sensation of lightness. In this posture vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi and thorax marma and marma of back and both extremities get affected.
Half Spinal Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana):-
To adopt this pose sit with right heel folded at the side of the left hip. Try to raise the left knee, cross left foot over the folded right leg. Put left foot flat on floor beside the right thigh. Try to bring right upper arm around to the outside of left knee and grab left foot with right hand. Bend left arm behind back, inhale, and twist spine and head to the left, looking back over the left shoulder as far as possible. (Straighten spine, neck, and head by stretching torso upward before twisting.) Hold breath during pose; afterwards exhale and untwist slowly. Reverse legs and arms and repeat.
Benefits: – Regular practice of Half Spinal Twist pose gives strength, flexibility to the body and oxygenated blood supply to the spine and abdominal organs. It increases appetite, metabolic process and digestion. Retards aging; tones the nervous system; and strengthens the reproductive glands. In this posture vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi and thorax marma and marma of back and both extremities get affected.
Sit in Lotus pose. Cross arms behind the back and grab the left big toe with the left hand, and the right big toe with right hand, or simply grip left wrist with right hand behind the back. Inhale deeply, then exhale and slowly bend forward, resting forehead on the floor. Hold breath out in pose; then inhale and sit up. When used as a meditation posture, breathe naturally and concentrate on ajna chakra.
Benefits: – It intensifies the benefits of Lotus pose. It also increases memory and gastric fire; strengthens the spine, waist, lungs, heart, and abdomen. In this posture vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi and thorax marma and marma of back and both extremities get affected.
Nobility Pose (Bhadrasana):-
Sit on the floor. Bring soles of feet together, clasp hands around feet, and pull heels in as close to the body as possible. Inhale slowly and press knees down towards the floor, keeping spine, neck, and head in a straight line. Hold breath in pose. Concentrate on ajna chakra. Exhale slowly and release. In a variation hands are placed on the knees, pressing them down gently. The Nobility pose can be used as a meditation pose, breathing naturally.
Benefits: – Relieves urinary disorders and sciatic pain; keeps the kidneys, prostate, bladder, and ovaries functioning properly; strengthens the reproductive glands and aids in celibacy.Recommended for women, as it helps regulate the menstrual cycle; also recommended during pregnancy. In this posture vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi. guda and thorax marma and marma of back and both extremities get affected.
Frog Pose (Mandukasana):-
To adopt this pose sit in Thunderbolt pose and close the hands by putting thumbs inside. Now place both the closed hands around the umbilicus and try to bend forward, exhaling breath and keeping sight forward. Keeping this pose for a while come back to the Thunderbolt pose. This can be repeated three to five times.
Benefits: – during this pose there is direct pressure on abdominal organs. It improves the function of the pancreas. It increases the amount of insulin and improves the quality of gastric and liver juices. It is good for abdominal ailments. It improves the function of heart and lungs. In this posture vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi and thorax marma and marma of back and both extremities get affected.
Peacock Pose (Mayurasana):-
Kneeling on the floor, with arms resting in front of the body on the palms, inhale and bring head off the floor by shifting the body slightly towards the feet. Then raise the legs by shifting body forward again. Hold breath while balancing on the hands; then exhale slowly lowering head and feet. Either return to kneeling position or relax in the Reverse Relaxation Pose. (Uttana Shavasana).
Benefits:- Increases digestive fire, alleviating indigestion and constipation; is helpful for diabetes, haemorrhoids, and inflammation of the intestines or liver; stimulates circulation of blood in the abdomen; tones the lungs; rouses kundalini; and strengthens the wrists, arms, and abdominal muscles. In this posture vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi and thorax marma and marma of back and both extremities get affected.
Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana):-
Kneel and sit on calves, knees together. Place hands on knees, keeping arms and back straight. Either close the eyes, or focus on the tip of the nose. Breathe slowly and deeply. This pose can be used for meditation. This is the one asana that may be practiced directly after eating.
Benefits: – Calms the mind; aids digestion. In this posture vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi and thorax marma and marma of back and both extremities get affect.
Lying Thunderbolt Pose (Supt vajrasana):-
To adopt this pose sit in Thunderbolt pose and try to lie on the back. In this posture bot thighs should be placed together. Hands should be kept on thighs. During the reversal of pose take the support of elbows and hands.
Benefits: – Regular practice of Lying Thunderbolt pose gives stretch on lower abdominal part and lower extremity. It stimulates the function of large intestine and regulates the bowel. It is useful in hemorrhoids, constipation and the diseases of urogenital system. In this posture vitapa, lohitaksha, vasti and nabhi and thorax marma and marma of back and both extremities get affected.
Relaxation Pose (Shavasana):-
To adopt this pose lie flat on the back like a corpse, keeping arms at the sides and head rolled slightly to one side. Close eyes and relax; breathing should be natural. The mind should be calm and thoughtless. Practice the Relaxation pose after each series, or after several strenuous poses, for fifteen to twenty seconds. At the end of asana practice, do this pose for five to ten minutes. It is also recommended to practice this after pranayama and meditation.
Benefits: – The Relaxation pose facilitates blood circulation; it relieves fatigue and reduces stress and depression. Practice of Relaxation pose gives soothing effect on total body marma.
Conclusion about Marma and Yoga
In concluding this section on Yoga and Marma, we can therefore see the close and astounding inter-relationship between the two practices, the practice of Marma being inherent in the Yogic postures. In all the higher yogic practices as well, like the various pranayama and mudras, as well as concentration / meditation on the chakras, various marma points get affected and stimulated. Thus, it can be remarked, extending this perception, that self-marma therapy in itself can be considered as a Yogic practice.