Hawaiian Massage Lomi Lomi

Hawaiian Massage - Lomi Lomi

"Lomi" is simply the Hawaiian word for "rub" or "massage".  Hence Lomi Lomi has come to mean this practice of massage which originated in...you guessed it...Hawaii.

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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.

Like 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 arts.

Like 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 benefits.


Huna 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 circulation.

Gentle stretches and rotation of the limbs results in a relaxed body and a peaceful spirit for the client.  Even the humming of the practitioner 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 Hawaii!

Lomi 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 absent here.

Occasionally, Lomi Lomi will actually be performed by two practitioners at the same time, where it becomes a double-treat.


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Page Updated 6:18 PM Sunday 9/20/2015