The earliest Polynesian settlers of Hawaii practiced their own form of massage, which evolved to become the traditional Hawaiian healing practice known as lomilomi massage. Lomilomi was practiced by all the peoples of Hawaii, from child to chief. Lomilomi practices varied by family, ahupua'a (traditional region), and island. Lomilomi used was mainly as a healing modality, as a restorative massage practiced within the family, and by the lohe lua (masters of the Hawaiian martial arts).
To understand the healing effects of Lomilomi, one must have a grasp of the Hawaiian view of life and energy, or the Ha. In Hawaiian Ha means life, to breath, and active prayer/prayer in action. The Ha is an integral part of the lomilomi practice, as are hula movements, which are used to ground and direct the flow of energy.
Lomilomi is a practice which looks at things in terms of energy flow, following the idea that a belief can block energy flow as much as musculoskeletal stress can. Lomilomi helps release the blockages, while assisting the energy flow into new direction. Thus the purpose of lomilomi is not only to facilitate healing on a physical level, but to also bring balance to the mental, emotional and spiritual parts of us. The lomilomi practice views all aspects of the body as one, and when healing is effected on one level (physical), all levels are affected (mental, emotional, spiritual).
Lomilomi practitioners can use the palms, forearms, fingers, knuckles, elbows, knees, feet, even sticks and stones. The massage is generally given in fluid, rhythmic motions, using the forearms, elbows and hands. Many people describe the feeling of a lomilomi massage to be like gentle waves moving over the body. Another feature of a lomilomi massage is that different parts of the body may be massaged at the same time, such as the shoulder and the arm, or the neck and the latisumus dorsi (Lats-longest muscle in the back). The dual movements of this type of massage assists the recipient in totally relaxing, as it is quite difficult for the brain to focus on the two separate areas of the body being massage at once. Thus the recipient can relax into a semi-awake state of the brain, allowing the nervouse system to relax, the digestive system to stimulate, and the musculoskeletal system to release excess tension.
Lomilomi massage is now practiced throughout the world, from living rooms to the majority of high-end spas. As in ancient times there are many different modalities, or styles of lomilomi massage. The Hawaiian islands are rich in gifted lomilomi practitioners, but there are also accredited teachers and practioners of lomilomi massage just about everywhere massage is practiced. And so it is with each style of therapeutic massage modality; being like a new instrument that the hands can pick up and use at any time.
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