In Hawaii, many massage therapists specialize in a type of holistic massage that has its roots in ancient Polynesian traditions. Lomi lomi massage therapists use a combination of traditional Native Hawaiian medicine techniques and a belief in sharing mana (life energy) in the present moment. A lomi lomi massage therapist can help you activate your mana to feel better, improve your health, and gain spiritual balance.
What Is Lomi Lomi?
Though the term lomi lomi means “massage,” people refer to this type of bodywork in a number of ways:
- Hawaiian temple bodywork
- Traditional style lomi lomi
- Temple style lomi lomi
- “Loving Hands” massage
- Hawaiian massage
Hawaiian practitioners called Kahunas developed and refined lomi lomi from ancient Polynesian methods. These followers of the Hawaiian Huna philosophy connect their unique spirituality with lomi lomi and many other healing arts. Experts describe Huna as a state of being. Lomi lomi is sometimes known as “Loving Hands” massage because much of the work is done through love, with the practitioner using loving hands and a loving heart to facilitate healing.
Kahunas often practice lomi lomi in conjunction with meditation, plant medicine, and breath work. They work with a life energy called mana, which bears many similarities to qi in Chinese acupuncture/acupressure and ki in Japanese reiki. They also use techniques similar to those used by Western therapists, such as rubbing, kneading, and stroking. For example, researchers have found that Native Hawaiian communities with limited access to health care use lomi lomi to facilitate healing for physical ailments. This subtle, heart-based practice can work well in conjunction with Western medicine.
Benefits of Lomi Lomi Massage
Though lomi lomi practitioners offer far more than physical healing, their work can help clients in many practical ways:
- Greater health and well-being
- Better flexibility
- Increased range of motion
- Better posture
- Improved blood and lymph flow
- Waste and toxin removal
- Faster healing
- Improved circulation
- Greater vitality
- Boosted immune response
- Lower blood pressure
- Slower heart rate
Hawaiians and lomi lomi practitioners understand how beliefs and ideas can block body energy just like tense muscles. Lomi lomi massage therapists employ flowing, smooth techniques and a loving approach to help clients let go of beliefs that may be limiting, old patterns, and undesirable behaviors. Your holistic lomi lomi experience has the capacity to heal on all levels, not just the physical level, and it may be able to help you to achieve better overall health and happiness.
What to Expect from a Lomi Lomi Session
Your lomi lomi practitioner will likely use a combination of flowing hand and arm movements, native plants, volcanic rocks, and chanting to activate the mana in your body. The approach is holistic, creating a mind/body connection to treat you on all levels: mind, body, emotion, and spirit.
Make sure to ask your lomi lomi massage therapist about how much you need to disrobe and what you’ll be covered with during the session. Unlike other forms of massage, lomi lomi involves full-body, sweeping motions. Your practitioner will likely have you cover yourself with a small towel—not the large sheet or multiple towels you may have experienced with other massage styles. You may also be asked to lie directly on the massage table and not on a towel or sheet.
Before your lomi lomi experience, your practitioner may sit in stillness with you, perhaps while resting their hands gently on your back. They may say a silent blessing to ask that you be healed.
Your lomi lomi therapist will intuitively create a unique therapy for you. No two massages are ever the same. Some parts of your session will include very slow movements, and others will be more fast-paced. Your practitioner will likely use long, flowing, continuous strokes to gently and firmly work your muscles. This type of touch is meant to nurture your body so you can relax and enjoy the moment.
Your practitioner will use not only their hands but also their forearms to provide long, continuous full-body strokes to soften your body. To give you a feeling of deep harmony and balance, they may work simultaneously on various parts of your body. They will likely help you stretch and rotate your joints to free up any blocked energy they feel.
Practitioners combine singing, chanting, and dance with breath work to assist energy flow. Humming, in particular, can amplify energy and release blockages. In the Huna philosophy, breath connects with energy and enhances energy flow.
You may experience emotional releases during your lomi lomi massage, which your practitioner will understand and accommodate. After your session, your therapist may again sit with you in stillness and say another blessing to remove any negative thoughts and emotions you’re holding on to that could affect your physical health.
The healing effect of your lomi lomi experience may last long after your session, especially if you have a powerful emotional release. If you enjoy your massage and want to go deeper, consider being massaged by two practitioners—an experience that may give you an even deeper level of relaxation.
- Dillard, A., Carpenter, D., Mau, E., & Kekauoha, P. (2014). Case report from the field: integrating Hawaiian and Western healing arts in Papakolea. Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health, 73(12), 26–28.
- Lakainapali, T. (2002). Hawaiian lomi lomi massage. Retrieved from http://www.huna.org/html/lomilomi.html
- Skuban, R. (2016). Benefits of lomilomi massage. Retrieved from http://www.amcollege.edu/benefits-of-lomilomi-massage/