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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

The Art of Hawaiian “Lomi Lomi” Massage

by Sarah Heinze

The Hawaiian definition of “Lomi” is “to rub, press, crush, massage, rub out; to work in and out.” During the rhythmic dance of a Lomi Lomi massage, the therapist uses palms, forearms, knuckles, fingers, and thumbs to apply long, soothing strokes that feel like gentle waves rushing over the client, relaxing muscles and melting away tension.

Most of what is known about traditional Hawaiian healing practices has been handed down from ancestors and living elders. Both ancestors and elders are referred to as “kupuna”. The kupuna teach that there is oneness of life, that all things in the world are living and connected as a part of one big family. They believe the natural tendancy of all living things is to seek and maintain harmony and balance. There is also believed to be a very strong mind-body connection, therefore mental stress and muscle tension are highly related. Originally, Lomi was only practiced and taught within each family, as it was passed down from generation to generation. This tradition continued until 1972 when a well known practitioner from the Kona Coast, Auntie Margaret Machado, decided it was time to help others by sharing the knowledge with all those who desire to learn, Hawaiian or not. Her training by her grandfather began when she was a small child and she gained mastery through a lifetime of practicing. Auntie’s definition of Lomi Lomi is “the loving touch-a connection of heart, hands and soul with the source of all life.” Over the years thousands of people have traveled to Hawaii to receive and learn Lomi Lomi massage from Auntie Margaret, and other kupuna teachers.

Lomi Lomi generally begins with the therapist resting hands on the client’s back while the two breathe together, and both privately saying a personal blessing. The blessing might be, for example, asking for whatever healing is needed to take place during the session. The traditional Hawaiian Lomi Lomi taught by the kupuna is known as “temple style.” This involves the client lying directly on the vinyl table and covered by a small towel. In the Midwest, the most common type of lomi is the “Big Island Style” or Auntie Margaret’s method, which is combined with a more western approach. In this approach the client remains fully draped and only the body part being addressed is exposed. Lomi Lomi is the practice of body manipulation and massage for those desiring treatment to address spiritual, emotional, and physical disharmony. It combines the use of prayer, breath, and energy to release areas of tension in the body. Gentle stretching of the body and rotation of the joints will be assisted but never forced, to assist the flow of energy and further relax muscles. While it is often referred to as a spiritual massage, the technique can also be very specific and tailored to meet each client’s individual needs. In this respect, no two Lomi Lomi massages are exactly alike; but what they do have in common, are the benefits of increased circulation, a relaxed nervous system, and relief of muscle tension, all while experiencing a beautiful, graceful, and very unique style of massage. Imagine being transported to Hawaii at the end of a long day, without having to get on a plane!

Sarah has been working as a Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002. She is currently practicing at Sans Souci Massage in Altoona. You can schedule online at or call 715-830-9890 to book an appointment.

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