Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage
Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage

If you’d like to combine spirituality with relaxation, you might want to consider a Hawaiian lomi lomi treatment. ‘Lomi,’ which literally means ‘to rub,’ is a form of indigenous massage with a long history and strong ties to Hawaiian spirituality and culture. Rather than focusing just on one muscle group at a time, lomi lomi is a holistic massage that works to promote whole-body health and relaxation.

Lomi lomi was traditionally practiced for several purposes: healing, relaxation, and familial bonding. Lomi lomi techniques vary from region to region, but the practitioner generally uses thumbs, knuckles, forearms, and elbows in order to disperse ‘congested’ areas within the body. Smooth, flowing movements target and relax multiple areas at once. Like all massages, lomi lomi stimulates blood flow and lymphatic drainage. Many recipients also report spiritual benefits, such as the release of tension and negative energy.

The practice of lomi lomi was probably brought over by the Polynesian settlers of Hawaii but went unrecorded until 19th-century visitors to the islands (including Robert Louis Stevenson) wrote of their experiences. The practice was forced underground in the 20th century when legislation began to require lomi lomi practitioners to pass a written exam based on western principles of massage. Nonetheless, lomi lomi achieved widespread attention in the 70s when native practitioner and elder Aunty Margaret Machado offered to teach lomi lomi to anyone who wanted to learn it, native or not.

New and more culturally tolerant legislation means that lomi lomi practitioners are certified by the Hawaiian medical board. But even though lomi lomi has become a popular form of massage, it remains one of the least commercialized: for most practitioners, lomi lomi is a deeply spiritual practice that involves being connected with a patient and using the combined powers of loving hands and thoughts to heal. For this reason, few practitioners are willing to treat clients in a spa setting, preferring to work privately or in-home settings.

Learn more in this video of a lomi lomi massage