Words: Nicci Talbot
I met Vena Ramphal last week, a passion coach specialising in transition and transformation in romance. She works with the classical Indian energy traditions: yoga, ayurveda and tantra and has recently launched a new treatment: Marma Touch For Sensory Awakening. ‘Marma points are small, specific areas on the body that are very receptive to touch,’ she says. ‘The traditions of yoga, tantra and the kama sutra recognise that when these points are stimulated through conscious touch, there is profound and immediate benefit to emotional, physical and spiritual bodies.
‘The aim of the treatment is to help you develop a more subtle experience of your sensuality and deepen your capacity for sensual expression. It’s a nourishing experience that will rejuvenate you emotionally and physically.’ I have been looking for something subtler than ‘tantric’ massage so arranged a session with Vena at Coco de Mer in South Kensington.
What are marma points?
In Ayurvedic texts they are described as vital energy points. According to the website Indiadivine, they are ‘positions on the body where muscles, veins, arteries, nerves, tendons, bones and joints meet.’ There are 107 major marmas and 84,000 minor ones, so pretty much any form of gentle touch is going to be beneficial (who counted the minors!?). Melanie Sachs, counsellor, healer and author of Ayurvedic Beauty Care says that touching the points will awaken your natural beauty and keep your skin vibrant and healthy. It also makes skin more receptive to nutrients (which is why facials are so relaxing and beneficial given that 37 marma points are located on the head, shoulders, face and upper chest area).
How to activate them
If you are using touch keep it light and clockwise using small circular motions at the various marma points of the body (palms, soles, pelvis, thighs and face area). There is a specific point (14) called Oshta (Usta) in the middle of the upper lip, which eases dizziness, improves mental clarity and stimulates sexual desire. Gently biting a woman’s upper lip triggers a sensation in the clitoris so this makes sense. You can also activate the marmas through yoga and meditation, crystals, Prayanama and using essential oils.
Vena ran through the treatment and what to expect explaining that there’s no set routine as she works intuitively based on a client’s energy pattern. So, she picked up that I was tired and feeling a little heavy emotionally. I then lay on the floor supported by several yoga mats and a big cushion. She began by gently touching my feet making slow circles and long strokes, which felt incredibly nurturing and relaxing. I felt my breathing slow down but I didn’t fall asleep or drift off because the playfulness of the touch and targeted focus kept me anchored.
She worked her way around the different marma points telling me in advance which area she would be working on. I felt her focus on my pelvic area, hips and thighs to encourage energy flow, circling and stroking lightly in a way that made my skin tingle. It’s not sexual touch but definitely sensual, which is more powerful. I can’t recall the whole sequence so I must have drifted off but I remember her circling the palms of my hands and making long strokes along my fingers. Our hands work hard all day and it’s not often that they are touched in such a focused way so your body remembers it.
She then asked me to turn over so she could work on my back taking each side of my body in turn. The final part of the treatment focused on the energy points on my face and head. My ears are hugely sensitive – something I discovered when I had a facial that incorporated ear massage. It’s a neglected area and feels exquisite. Massaging someone’s ears also heightens their awareness of sound. I was aware of the noise downstairs and the girls’ clattering up and down the stairs. She then held my upper lip, which is supposed to increase sexual energy. Again, this is a sensitive area that isn’t the focus of most pampering treatments. She ended the session by focusing on my feet to ground me.
So how did I feel afterwards? Energised, centred and definitely more sensitive to sound. We went for a drink in Carluccio’s and I found it too loud to sit there and have a proper conversation. For the rest of the day I avoided the tube and walked around London so I could move my body and feel the sun on my face. I felt connected and cocooned and nothing stressed me out.
Marma Touch is a lovely pampering treatment and a thoughtful gift for a lover but at £200 a session it’s not something I can afford to do regularly. What it did do however is inspire me to learn about marma points myself and develop a practise that I can do at home. I recommend the book Marma Points of Ayurveda and also reading Melanie Sach’s website, as there’s further information on there. I asked Vena how to maintain the benefits of the session and she said to be mindful about how you touch your body. Don’t slap on the body lotion – take your time and stroke it on slowly and sensually. In other words, touch your body the way you’d touch a lover’s. A subtle thing but the effects are accumulative – a bit like wearing exquisite lingerie. It does make a real difference to how you inhabit and move your body.
Marma Touch For Sensory Awakening, £200 for 1 ½ hours; contact Vena Ramphal for more information.