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Lomi Lomi massage: A sacred and sensual experience

Believed to have originated in the Hawaiian Islands Lomi Lomi massage is a form of full body massage that is unlike any other massage modality.  As a client receiving a Lomi Lomi massage the main difference you will notice is that the massage is performed on your entire body at once.  Unlike most other massages where the therapist uncovers and treats one body region at a time, in a Lomi Lomi massage the therapist will use long flowing strokes that go from head to toe in a continuous, rhythmic movement massaging both the top and the underside of your body.

Draping – Is Lomi Lomi massage performed nude, without draping?

Lomi Lomi Massage

Lomi Lomi Massage

The unique underbody massage strokes can be performed because the Lomi Lomi massage is done on a massage table with no top or bottom sheets.  Normally you are draped with a small towel just to cover the genitals which were considered sacred in Hawaii.  While face up women are customarily offered breast covering, however, in traditional Lomi Lomi no breast covering is used.  While the breasts are not massaged, the sternum (between the breasts) is massaged along with the entire side of the body.  Some of these techniques cannot be performed with breast draping.  While face down the buttocks is usually minimally covered at least to ensure the genitals are covered.  This minimal draping enables the therapist to slide his or her hands and arms under and around your body using massage techniques unique to this form of therapy.  In Europe the massage is sometimes performed totally nude, without draping. While this might seem to make sense to a client comfortable with nudity, it is contrary to traditional Hawaiian principles.

Honoring the body in a sensual massage
Receiving a Lomi Lomi massage was considered a great honor in ancient Hawaii.  The treatment was performed for centuries in Hawaiian temples as a rite of passage

Lomi Lomi is performed on the entire body at once

Lomi Lomi is performed on the entire body at once

and renewing ritual.  A young man or young woman receiving a Lomi Lomi would often have a vision or intuitive feeling as to what their place in the community would be.  Today’s practitioners still recognize and respect the sacredness of this treatment. The client is treated with great honor and is considered a sacred body on an altar by the therapist.  While the full body strokes and embracing techniques can make this massage a very sensual experience for the client, the therapist is always viewing the client through this sacred lens thus allowing the client the freedom to relax and embrace their feelings without judgment by the therapist.

Lomi Lomi massage treats the mind and body
Traditionally Lomi Lomi is a deep, therapeutic type of massage designed to release muscle tension and consequently physical stress.  The ancient Hawaiian shaman believed in a strong mind-body connection and believed that muscle tension and mental stress were highly related.  By using the techniques of the Lomi Lomi the shaman or kahuna would release tense muscles and provide an overall healing treatment to the recipient.

At the core of the Hawaiian Shamanic beliefs are seven sacred principles and those principles are at the core of Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage. Below are the seven principles and their meaning.  Click on any principle for more details. A complete explanation of all principle will follow in future articles.

IKE (pronounced E’-kay): The world is what you think it is

KALA: There are no limits

MAKIA: Energy flows where attention goes

MANAWA (man-NAV-a): Now is the moment of power

ALOHA: To love is to be happy with

MANA: All power comes from within

PONO: Effectiveness is the measure of truth

Unfortunately many spas modify the traditional Lomi Lomi to fit the spa’s policies and procedures.  They use bottom sheets to minimize clean up work, play standard spa music instead of Hawaiian music, and use full sheets and blankets for draping making it extremely difficult for the therapist to perform the flowing full body strokes associated with a Lomi Lomi Massage.  Additionally, there are now many styles of Lomi Lomi massage.  This article is based on “Temple Style”, believed by many to be the original style.

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  1. Thank you for your interesting article and for all your
    great free informations offered. I appreciate a lot your work,
    thank you again.

  2. ricardo neuman says:

    Thank you for your well written article. I have been doing this style of massage for 20 years, and still enjoy it very much. I teach parts of the techniques to my students in Thailand and other countries. The limited draping and need to clean the table each time do limit the kinds of places and situations in which it can be easily used. If you take a look back at the article, the typos on genitals/gentiles and altar/alter are more interesting than most such things that get by spellchecking 😉


  3. Heather Ramey says:

    Great article, very informative and interesting. I had a client ask me about this style just this week!

  4. right of passage = rite of passage

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  6. Thanks for the interesting article and the information which you have provided to us great job pal

  7. in the busy hectic schedule those who have no time for xercise massage is really a stress buster

  8. I somehow happened upon your site and thought that it was well done and very professional until I saw the picture that goes with this article slide across the screen. I didn’t bother to read the caption because I was so appalled at the photo and it’s representation for the massage profession. I was later informed that it was lomilomi massage and that is common to use less draping.

    All massage is sensual in nature as in of the senses. The pictures in this article are sexual in nature which is one of the biggest issues for the massage profession to overcome. People often get massage therapists confused for those ‘other’ types of massage. Your pictures here reinforce that idea here which is unfortunate for the massage profession.

    Lomilomi is a very sacred form of massage. While yes some use little draping, it is always important to drape to the comfort of the client. The pictures here with such display of the body continues to hurt the massage profession. Why didn’t you use a picture of a heavy set native hawaiian woman or even a man?

    This is the exact thing that the creeps online find appealing. Maybe it’s me and having a friend who catches internet predators by using photos like that.

    Great site except for I think you missed the boat on this one and are hurting the profession more than helping it.

  9. Aloha Julie – I strongly agree with position that we need to separate real massage therapy from sexual services masquerading as massage therapy. I have worked towards that elusive goal in many ways for years. However, I also believe we need to step back and realize that the vast majority of the public does know the difference between the two and that it is impossible to stop the sex industry from using the term massage.

    We, as massage professionals, should not be restricting our therapeutic work for fear that we will somehow be associated with sexual service providers. For example, there are many massage therapists who do not massage glutes, or only do so through a sheet for fear of making a massage sexual. Obviously, it is not appropriate to skip the glutes (unless requested by the client) and if was just as good to work through a sheet we would do that for the whole body.

    By tradition and for practical reasons, lomi lomi is performed with absolutely minimal draping. In many styles of lomi lomi there is not even any breast draping, subject to the client’s preferences of course (there is no breast massage in lomi lomi and the breast are not touched – although breast massage is legitimate). That does not make it sexual in any way. Based on my experience I can tell you that the lomi lomi experience can help some people emotionally, in part because it helps them accept their bodies and frees them from feelings of being repressed.

    The draping shown in these pictures is actually somewhat conservative because we were trying to address sensibilities about this issue. Normally, the breast draping to folded up exposing the side of the body to allow full body strokes along the side. The glute draping is folded in so that only the gluteal cleft is covered. This allows the full body, continuous movements that are the hallmark of the lomi lomi style. None of this is sexual in anyway.

    The young women in the picture is a therapist, not a model. She happened to be available for the shoot. A man would have done just as well, however, we do not believe in intentionally avoiding people for photos just because they are attractive young women.

    Thanks for your comment, Julie. Again I fully agree with your premise but differ with you in how we should address these issues.

  10. Good health will always have a gr8 impact on the mind the massages are really helpful now a days

  11. Elmer Remle says:

    I agree with Steve Ibach. In Lomi Lomi the draping is very minimal; I had one last Friday and it was delightful. I was not a bit embarrassed about the minimal draping. As far as whether the photos are sexual, if the purpose were just to show off a lot of the female body, then it would probably be sexual. But since the purpose was to show how a Lomi Lomi client is draped, there is nothing sexual about it. If someone viewing this gets turned on, so be it. It is possible to get turned on by viewing something less than total nudity.

    Lots of therapists want to learn Lomi Lomi, lots of therapists don’t. If a therapist is not comfortable learning Lomi Lomi because he or she is uncomfortable with minimal draping, that is okay too. Just because one is a therapist and sees a lot of the human body in the course of his or her work, it does not mean that he or she can still be fairly modest about how much of the body is uncovered at any given time.

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  15. In Western culture the Human body is often considered taboo. However the increase in the Pro Body Demonstrations suggest that we really need to change our unhealthy mindset. It is time to stop the Body shaming campaign and let us realize that the body is a beautiful piece of work. Nudity implies humanity, innocence and not time for sex!

    The profession is also hurt by the Therapist mindset your either for Body shaming or your not… It is time to Embrace the natural beauty of the human body or get out of the profession. Your setting the wrong example for people and part of the problem.

  16. Ah yes my favourite massage.I know it as a kahuna massage.Good article i learnt a lot. thank you

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