Lomi Lomi Massage Therapy

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A tradition originating in the Hawaiian Pacific: what’s it all about? What are the benefits and most of all, where can I get one?

The Origins of Lomi-lomi

Hawaiian lomi-lomi massage is a healing practice that is part of a larger traditional medicinal system whose roots stretch from Polynesia to Hawai’i. Because techniques were passed down through families, many styles emerged over time, especially considering the vast distances between islands.

Lomi-lomi has its own set of ritual vocabulary in Hawai’ian which include prayer (pule), spiritual energy and personal power (mana), and breath of life (aloha). Translated rather brutishly, “lomi-lomi” is something like “rub, rub”, but more elegantly put, it would be “working in and out like the paws of a contented cat”. Another more spiritual translation could be “to turn or shift”, referring to the massage as a physical change that turns over a new leaf, as it were, by ridding toxins and old material from the body.

What exactly is this massage about?

The individual who receives lomi-lomi is the focus of the massage. There is no set format and no two massages are identical. Lomi-lomi is a very identifiable tradition, however. Some main themes are:


This is an important component. The massage should take place in a quiet, still location, so both the practitioner and the recipient can calmly focus on the comprehensive healing ritual they are undertaking.

People who wish to receive lomi-lomi should have pure intentions and be open to receiving the massage, not just submitting to it. The difference here is their active mental and spiritual participation, even if they are not moving a muscle themselves.

Likewise, the therapist is not a healer working on a patient; they accompany the recipient in their pursuit of healing. It is the practitioner’s responsibility to use a loving touch to assist the healing process.

Both people must do their parts.

Lomi-lomi uses long, sweeping strokes, that traverse the body, rolling across you like waves. This technique helps to move toxins out of the body, taking the form of the beautiful natural phenomena found across the Pacific.

The massage may involve humming, dancing techniques, or chanting, which all have their raison d’etre in spiritual healing.

Lomi-lomi may also entail joint rotation to help prevent blockages and improve circulation. This is a delicate maneuver that requires special prior training, so it may not take place in all sessions.

The therapist will use their own body, elbows to fingertips, to pound, tap, rub or knead in a variety of motions. Multiple parts of the body are sometimes massaged simultaneously so the recipient doesn’t focus too much on one part, which helps them to relax.

Another distinctive tendency is that minimal cover is used to reduce any ebb to the continuous whole-body flow of the massage. Traditionally, towel coverage only extends to necessary body parts, freeing the masseuse from having to constantly stop to move it.


Lomi-lomi is known to help stop muscle spasms and strokes directed away from the heart release tension. There are also benefits for the lymphatic system; old negative particles stored in the body are released through long strokes that unblock energy flow and improve circulation.

A few tips

This can be an intense experience, so don’t eat heavy meals beforehand. Plan for the massage to be one to two hours long. It’s better to avoid early or mid-day sessions because they are physically comprehensive, meaning your hair or makeup won’t last. Soak in the benefits of lomi-lomi on a holiday, at the end of the day or a relaxed weekend when you have time to bask in the glow of the experience. Do tell your practitioner if you have a condition such as a bleeding disorder, pregnancy or a tumor.

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