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The Ancient Hawaiian Massage Found Around the World


Lomi-lomi is an ancient form of Hawaiian massage with a deeply spiritual component. Lomi-lomi originated in Hawaii and is commonly found in Hawaiian spas, community health centers, and private practices, but it has also traveled around the world.

Traditionally, lomi-lomi (sometimes spelled lomilomi or lomi lomi) was practiced by family members, native healers, warriors and servants of royalty.

Renowned elder teacher Auntie Margaret Machado calls lomi-lomi "loving touch," according to Makana Risser Chai, author of Hawaiian Massage Lomilomi: Sacred Touch of Aloha.

What You Need to Know About Lomi-Lomi

  • Lomi-lomi always begins with a prayer, or pule. Some practitioners pray silently before beginning, others softly chant prayers in Hawaiian.

  • Many people associate lomi-lomi with hot stones, but that is a very small part of the practice.

  • Authentic lomi-lomi incorporates breath work. The lomi-lomi therapist breathes deeply, and encourages the guest to use specific breathing patterns.

  • Lomi-lomi varies depending on the spa and the therapist. At the Fairmont Orchid on Hawaii's Big Island, you can walk to your session on a lava path to a thatched hut at water’s edge. At SpaHalekulani in Waikiki, you receive the work in a tranquil treatment room.

  • Lomi-lomi might incorporate a number of healing modalities, including Swedish massage, hot stones, chiropractic, or flowing forearm movements. Again, it depends on the massage therapist.

  • Deeper aspects of the practice involve forgiveness and letting go of resentment. Called ho‘oponopono, this is available only from the most skilled practitioners working in private settings.

  • It's possible to have a high-quality, authentic lomi-lomi treatment in Japan...or a mediocre lomi-lomi in Hawaii. Stay away from practitioners who learned lomi-lomi in a three-hour class. Here are some questions to ask massage therapists when you're looking for a high quality experience.

  • The best way to find a skilled lomi-lomi practitioner is to do a little investigation. Hawaiian Massage Lomilomi: Sacred Touch of Aloha features 30 of the most respected Native Hawaiian practitioners who perpetuate this ancient art.
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