:: Marmas and Pratyahara: Marmas as Control Points :: The main aspect of Yoga practice that actively considers the use of marmas is the practice of Pratyahara, which is the fifth branch of Yoga. Pratyahara mediates between the outer factors of Yoga, which include Asana and Pranayama, and the inner factors of Yoga, which mainly consist of meditation. Pratyahara is the door between the outer and inner factors of Yoga that allows us to turn our energy inward. Pratyahara literally means ‘withdrawal’, like a turtle withdrawing into its shell. It refers to various ‘internalization’ exercises designed to control the senses and motor organs and introvert the mind. Such are closing ones eyes and ears to look and listen within or mauna, the practice of silence and not speaking in order to control the vocal organ. However, there are common and more physical forms of Pratyahara, which are mainly ‘relaxation exercises’; tightening and releasing the energy in various muscles and joints, which affects related marmas. This also clears the energy in the organs and system that the related marmas control. We can understand the relevance of marmas and Pratyahara when we consider that marmas are ‘control points’, through which Prana and the various organs of the body can be worked on. Each marma point has various organs, systems, senses, nadis and chakras that it rules over. Through working on that particular marma, we can control or affect these factors in various therapeutic manners. The great yogic text, Vasishta Samhita, contains an important section explaining the use of specific marmas for the practice of Pratyahara. We have included a translation and summary of the material as it is not available in English. “Great yogis ever praise Pratyahara as concentration (Dharana) in the eighteen marma places of Prana. Drawing the Prana from each of these places is said to be the best form of Pratyahara.” The text then mentions eighteen such marmas and their locations. :: Eighteen Yogic Marma Regions and Main Corresponding Marmas :: The toes are the starting point. Kshipra marma. The ankles: four and a half finger units from the toes. Gulpha (ankle) marma. The middle of the calf: ten finger units from the ankle. Indrabasti marma The root of the knee: eleven finger units from the middle of the calf. This marma is not one of the classical 107, but can also be used. The center of the knee: two and a half finger units from the root of the knee. Janu marma. The middle of the thigh: From the knee to the middle of the thigh is nine finger units. Urvi marma. The anus: From the middle of the thigh to the root of the anus is nine finger units. Guda marma. The middle of the hip: From the root of the anus to the middle of the hip is two and a half finger units. Kukundara and Nitamba marmas. The root of the urethra: From the middle of the hip to the root of the urethra is two and a half finger units. Vitapa marma. The navel: From the root of the urethra to the navel is ten and a half finger units. Nabhi (navel) marma. The center of the heart: From the navel is the middle of the heart is fourteen finger units. Hridaya (heart) marma. The base of the throat: six finger units from the middle of the heart. Nila marma. The root of the tongue: From the root of the throat to the root of the tongue is four finger units. Shringataka marma. The root of the nose: From the root of the tongue to the root of the nose is four finger units. This marma is not one of the classical 107, but control of it can be related to Phana marma by the nostrils at the base of the nose. The center of the eyes: From the root of the nose to the eyes is one-half finger units. Apanga marma. The middle of the brows: From there to the middle of the brows is one-half finger unit. Sthapani marma. The center of the forehead. From the middle of the brows to the center of the forehead is three finger units. The marma point here is not one of the classical 107 but is still very useful. The top of the head: From the middle of the forehead to the top of the head is three finger units. Adhipati marma. These eighteen marma regions include points for seven chakras (the root of the anus (Muladhara), the root of the urethra (Svadishthana), the navel (Manipura), the heart (Anahata), the root of the throat (Vishuddha), the middle of the brows (Ajna) and the top of the head. The regions of the eyes, the root of the nose and the root of the tongue, as well as the middle of the brows relate to the third eye or Ajna chakra. Similarly, the point on the forehead relates to the crown chakra. The point at the root of the tongue is an important meditation place and gives control over Soma or amrit. These marma regions also relate to the fourteen nadis or channels of yogic thought. The root of the anus relates to Alambusha nadi. The root of the urethra relates to Kuhu nadi. The navel relates to Vishvodhara nadi. The heart relates to Varuna nadi. The root of the tongue relates to the Sarasvati nadi. The top of the head relates to the Sushumna nadi. The eyes relate to the Pusha and Gandhari nadis. The marmas along the legs relate to the Hastijihva (right side) and Yashasvati (left-side) nadis. :: Marmas, Regions of the Body and the Five Elements :: The body can be divided into five regions relative to the five elements. We can treat the elements in the body according to the marmas in the portion that relates to them. MARMAS IN THE REGION FROM THE FEET BELONG TO THE EARTH ELEMENT. Key marma: Talahridaya on the feet. MARMAS IN THE REGION FROM THE KNEES TO THE ANUS BELONG TO THE WATER ELEMENT. Key marma: Urvi marma on the middle of the thighs. MARMAS IN THE REGION FROM THE ANUS TO THE HEART BELONG TO THE FIRE ELEMENT. Key marma: Nabhi (navel) marma on the navel. MARMAS IN THE REGION FROM THE HEART TO THE MIDDLE OF THE EYEBROWS BELONG TO THE AIR ELEMENT. Key marma: Phana marma on the nostrils. MARMAS IN THE REGION FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE BROWS TO THE TOP OF THE HEAD BELONG TO THE ETHER ELEMENT. Key marma: Adhipati marma on the head.