|History records that American missionaries descended upon the Hawaiian islands in 1820.
Asships came and went with missionaries, supplies, and not a few natives
who were eager to leave, the native massage practice known as Lomi Lomi
spread to the west.
"Lomi" is, quite simply, the Hawaiian word for "rub" or "massage". Lomi Lomi has come to mean the practice of massage
which originated in this beautiful tropical island nation which eventually became our 50th
state. It contains a number of interesting differences from
many other Asian-influenced massage styles.
While the better known forms of massage, such as Swedish
massage, primarily make use of the hands and sometimes elbows
or forearms, Lomi Lomi involves use of the elbows and knees along with the palms and fingers. As in other massage forms the forearm sees occasional action
and sometimes sticks or stones are made use of as supplements to body
parts. This is not to be confused with the hot
stone massage offered by many massage therapists, by the way.
The Lomi Lomi client gets the full treatment.
Far from being merely an eclectic mixture of techniques applied without
thought, however, practitioners in Hawaii, as most massage therapists in
mainland states, are required to pass a written test that encompasses
anatomy, physiology and massage theory to become licensed to practice
this historical art.
many other massage styles Lomi Lomi can be (and traditionally is) part
of a larger healing routine, including prayer, meditation and diet.
As a stand-alone massage technique it is still superb. Originally
only practiced by native healers, and believed to affect digestion and
restore harmony within the family, it has tangible benefits.
It was often a useful adjunct to those who practiced Hawaiian-style martial
many Asian-style therapies, it is based on tribal wisdom about "energy"
(in this case called "Huna").
Despite this, to Western minds at least, somewhat esoteric origin,
Hawaiian-style massage appears to possibly have definite health
theory, on which the physical practice is based, is a vastly complex
set of beliefs about the relation between spiritual and physical
aspects of life and the natural world. According to
these beliefs, energy gets blocked in the joints. The Hawaiian
massage style evolved to "unblock" this "energy". While clients
may be surprised to see a practitioner perform a traditional Hawaiian dance
around the table during the treatment, they will appreciate the total
effect of the therapeutic session.
Strokes and Applications
Lomi Lomi involves the application of continuous, flowing strokes to relax
the muscles. Red
clay, or Hawaiian
salt, is often used as well to cleanse
and prepare the client's body for the therapy. Some sessions involve
time in a steam
hut as well or plunges into the ocean to stimulate
stretches and rotation of the limbs results in a relaxed body and a
peaceful spirit for the client. Even the humming of the
can help to induce a pleasant frame of mind.
Some recipients may not
enjoy laying directly on a vinyl table, as Lomi Lomi uses no sheet
underneath, and just a small towel on top. For this reason, heaters are
sometimes used to maintain a comfortable air temperature, but this is
rarely very necessary when the massage actually does take place in
Lomi often involves the use of smooth, one-motion, full-body strokes.
Many of these movements involve lifting and applying pressure
under the body during the procedure, which makes for an unusual and delightful
experience. The rhythm with which the movements proceed will vary
widely, since Lomi Lomi practice is a very individual and intuitive process.
One note; the formality found in other styles of massage is largely
Occasionally, Lomi Lomi will actually be performed by two practitioners at the same
time, where it becomes a double-treat.