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What Is Hawaiian Massage?

Mainland spas have adopted the Hawaiian massage as a way to better treat their clients.
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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2014
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A Hawaiian massage, also called lomi lomi massage, is a wonderful way to treat muscles to some island-style relaxation. Based on ancient Polynesian techniques that date back centuries, Hawaiian massage consists of flowing massage strokes used to release tension and create a feeling of rejuvenation in the body. Many people enjoy Hawaiian massage while on vacation in the islands, but mainland spas have also widely adopted this relaxing style as well.

Unlike many other forms of massage, a Hawaiian massage truly begins before the masseuse makes a single stroke. Resting hands on the client, a masseuse will say a traditional prayer or blessing, sometimes in the Hawaiian language. Many practitioners encourage clients to join them in deep breathing, which helps match the masseuse's movements to the natural rhythm of the client's body.

Just as yoga is meant as both a physical and mental form of meditation, Hawaiian massage is meant to soothe not only the muscles but the spirit as well. It is sometimes used as part of a holistic treatment for depression and anger management, and may also be recommended to treat medical problems such as digestive troubles. Originally, those skilled in lomi lomi massage were often great healers and martial arts trainers, though the style was practiced in more informal ways, such as between family members.

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Today, a Hawaiian massage may use a variety of techniques both traditional and from other types of massage such as Swedish or deep tissue styles. Some practitioners incorporate hot stones to help bring focused heat to tight muscle areas. Hawaiian massages are often performed by two massage therapists at once, to proved an increased sense of all-over relaxation.

In Hawaii, lomi lomi is practiced in some of the most beautiful and luxurious spas in the world. Treatment cabanas may be on a beach, in view of the rolling waves, or in volcanic grottoes filled with waterfalls. Massage therapists may enhance the treatment with island-inspired massage oils made with coconut, exfoliating pineapple, or luscious macadamia nut oils. Some incorporate sound therapy in the form of relaxing music, or add aromatherapy to treat the nose as well. Some Hawaiian massages are available for couples to experience together, with either two or four therapists performing the massage.

The price of a Hawaiian massage will vary depending on the area, add-on features, and length of the treatment. Spas at resorts generally charge more than day spas, but may have more luxurious features or discounts if the client is a guest at the resort. Some Hawaiian massage therapists even provide a mobile service, so that the whole experience can be done from the comfort of the client's home.

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