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What is Lomi Lomi?

A man getting a massage at a spa.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 March 2014
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Lomi Lomi is the Hawaiian word for massage, and it is part of a larger native Hawaiian tradition of healing and natural body care. In addition to being widely practiced in Hawaii, Lomi Lomi is also offered in Japan, parts of the mainland United States, and in some European countries. Most practitioners travel to Hawaii to learn Lomi Lomi, along with other aspects of the Hawaiian healing tradition, because they can study with respected Hawaiian elders who have been practicing Lomi Lomi for generations, including Auntie Margaret, one of the most famous practitioners.

While Lomi Lomi does relax the body and treat muscle pains just like traditional massage, it also establishes a deep connection between the massage therapist and the client. According to Hawaiian tradition, all living beings are seeking a state of balance and they need love to feel at peace in the world. This concept is known as huna, a word which is also used to refer to traditional healing in Hawaii. During a Lomi Lomi session, therefore, the purpose is not merely to relax the body but also to fill the client with love and peace, and the experience can sometimes be intense.

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Long, flowing strokes and minimal draping are incorporated into Lomi Lomi. Many practitioners pray before beginning the session, and approach the massage like a prolonged prayer. The massage therapist may dance while he or she works, and the client is often gently rocked to simulate the feeling of being in the water. Some clients have likened the Lomi Lomi experienced to being wrapped up in waves, as the long movements of hands and upper arms can feel like being in the ocean. Many therapists also massage different parts of the body, such as a shoulder and a hip, at the same time, to relax the more client more deeply by dividing his or her attention.

The goal of Lomi Lomi is to loosen and redirect energy. According to Hawaiian tradition, blockages of energy cause feelings of unrest and sickness, and Lomi Lomi will release them. Traditionally, Lomi Lomi was practiced within Hawaiian families, to strengthen the bond between family members and restore feelings of health, well-being, and love. It was also incorporated into the treatment programs of native healers, and used to pamper high-ranking members of society. Martial artists practiced Lomi Lomi as well, to keep their bodies balanced and healthy.

For clients interested in experiencing Lomi Lomi, there are numerous professional organizations or practitioners which can make local referrals. Someone who practices Lomi Lomi must be certified, just like a regular massage therapist, and should be able to offer information about where and with whom they trained. Lomi Lomi practitioners are aware of the principles of anatomy, physiology, massage theory, and ethics, and enjoy treating their clients in calm, peaceful spaces which are designed to enhance the massage. For this reason, it can be difficult to find a practitioner at a spa or massage studio, as many prefer to work alone.

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