For well over 1,000 years, Lomi Lomi has been practiced on the Hawaiian mainland as a healing ritual for those suffering from physical and spiritual anguish.

Thanks to the late, great Margaret Machado, Lomi Lomi has been renowned globally for its soothing movements and intimate style in the massage world.

Differing slightly from traditional Western massages like the Swedish massage, Lomi Lomi’s spiritual roots offer recipients unique benefits that have led to its popularization.

In this article, we’ll discuss the key differences between traditional Swedish massage and Lomi Lomi massage to understand better how Lomi Lomi works. We’ll also discuss the steps practitioners can take to become certified in Lomi Lomi and incorporate it into their repertoire.

Lomi Lomi Massage: A Deep Dive into Hawaii’s Healing Legacy

Lomi Lomi, a gem from the heart of Hawaiian tradition, incorporates holistic practices, including rhythmic massage, controlled breathing, and essential oils to guide energy through the body and release built-up tension. The goal of Lomi Lomi is to clear out lymphatic blockages and clear the body of negative toxins.

Lomi Lomi, which translates literally to “rub rub,” incorporates the sacred knowledge of “kahuna” to heal the body, soul, and mind.. Using long, fluid strokes with their hands, forearms, and elbows, therapists use a “loving hands’ approach, which attempts to release built up tension and energy throughout the body.

A typical massage may start from the neck or head and move down the shoulders to the abdomen and then even the legs and feet. In many instances, clients may experience a sense of release similar to a myofascial.

In many ways, Lomi Lomi embodies the same philosophy of many traditional Eastern medicines, such as acupuncture, which uses many similar techniques found in Swedish massage.

History: The Spiritual Roots of Lomi Lomi

To better understand the magic of Lomi Lomi, it’s important to understand its cultural history.

Originally, Lomi Lomu was part of a larger healing practice that included meditation, breathwork, and prayer along with massage. Lomi Lomi was not only about healing the body but also about aligning the soul and spirit, making it a deeply sacred practice.

Lomi Lomi was used to help strengthen families and aid the individual in digestion. Lomi Lomi was not contained on the mainland of Hawaii either and has been seen practiced on many neighboring Polynesian Islands.

Over time, American tourism and the popularity of Margaret Machado began to shed light on this restorative practice and brought its “loving hands” to increasing global popularity throughout the 20th century.

Modern Incarnations: Preserving Tradition in Contemporary Practice

While recent laws were amended to allow native practitioners on the island to become licensed in massage, Lomi Lomi has evolved slightly as it has circulated around the globe.

Modern practitioners offer a blend of traditional Hawaiian techniques with various other massage practices, creating a diverse therapeutic experience.

However, at its core, Lomi Lomi remains true to its original purpose—healing and rejuvenation. Many therapists integrate elements of energy work and mindfulness, ensuring that the essence of Lomi Lomi’s spiritual and holistic healing is preserved.

Expect any contemporary Lomi Lomi massage to feature long, fluid movements, stretching, essential oils, and a full body massage.

How Does Lomi Lomi Differ from Swedish Massage?

While both forms of massage feature long flowing movements, Lomi Lomi differs from Swedish massage in a few key areas.

First, Swedish massage tends to focus more on the physical touch of massage, such as incorporating deep, circular movements, kneading, and tapping into its routine. Swedish massage does incorporate full body movements, but focuses more on muscles and muscle tension. As a result, Swedish massage is great for promoting general relaxation as well as reducing muscle tension.

Lomi Lomi does incorporate some of the same movements, but also incorporates breath work, stretching, and slower movements. In traditional settings, Lomi Lomi will also involve prayer.

Lomi Lomi practitioners also use different parts of their body, including elbows, knuckles, and forearms to entourage better circulation throughout the body and release stored-up mana.

Finally, Lomi Lomi targets other parts of the body, such as the abdomen, to aid in digestion. As a result, Lomi Lomi is viewed as a more holistic practice, offering more general benefits, including spiritual well-being, improved digestion, emotional release, and lymphatic drainage.

Embracing the Holistic Harmony: The Profound Benefits of Lomi Lomi Massage Over Swedish Massage

When it comes to choosing a massage therapy that resonates with your body and soul, understanding the distinctive benefits of each style is key.

Lomi Lomi is not just a physical experience; it’s a spiritual voyage. Unlike Swedish massage, which primarily focuses on physical relaxation and muscle tension relief, Lomi Lomi facilitates deeper emotional and spiritual healing. It is imbued with the ancient Hawaiian philosophy of ‘Huna,’ which emphasizes the connection between the body, mind, and spirit. This approach helps to release emotional baggage and increase energy flow throughout the body.

Some of the more powerful benefits you’ll experience after a Lomi Lomi massage include:

  • Increased Energy and Well-Being: The rhythmic motions facilitate the release of energy blockages, fostering an improved flow of life force or ‘mana’ throughout the body.
  • More profound Sense of Calm: The nurturing and rhythmic nature of Lomi Lomi induces a deeper state of relaxation, reducing stress and promoting mental calmness.
  • Enhanced Mental Clarity: By addressing both the emotional and physical aspects, Lomi Lomi can lead to improved mental clarity and focus, helping to clear the mind of clutter and confusion.
  • Improved Immune Function: Regular Lomi Lomi massage may help to strengthen the immune system by reducing stress hormones, promoting relaxation, and enhancing overall well-being.
  • Improved Circulation: The gentle yet firm pressure applied during Lomi Lomi massage can stimulate blood flow and lymphatic drainage, promoting better circulation and aiding in the removal of toxins from the body.
  • Relieved Muscle Tension: Lomi Lomi techniques, including deep tissue work and stretching, can help to release tight muscles, knots, and tension, improving flexibility and range of motion.

Another great benefit of Lomi Lomi is the individualized approach to healing. Since therapists craft a unique experience for each client, this helps them address individual issues that may lead to greater well-being and satisfaction.

Lomi Lomi: Certification and Getting Started

Entering the world of Lomi Lomi massage is not just about learning a new set of physical techniques; it’s about embracing and respecting an entire cultural and spiritual tradition.

While deeply enriching, this journey comes with its prerequisites, primarily in the form of specialized training and certification.

  • Holistic Training: The certification process is comprehensive, covering not only the physical maneuvers but also delving into the cultural heritage and spiritual practices that form the backbone of Lomi Lomi. This includes understanding the Hawaiian concept of ‘mana’ or life energy and how it intertwines with the techniques used in Lomi Lomi.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Practitioners are trained to approach this massage form with the utmost respect for its cultural origins, ensuring that the practice is not only effective but also honors its ancestral roots.

For those inspired to practice Lomi Lomi, the journey begins with a commitment to learning and respecting the tradition. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Research and Certification: Seek out institutions like the NEPA School of Massage that offer specialized training in Lomi Lomi through Christine Mooney, the leading practitioner of the Lomi Lomi classes at the NEPA School of Massage and founder of Massage Now. Mooney was personally educated in Hawaii by Aunty Marguerite Sarah Pennington, who learned directly from Margaret Machado, the founder of the Lomi Lomi massage.
  2. Learn More About the Culture: Delve into the rich history and philosophy of Hawaiian healing practices to become a better practitioner. This is not just about acquiring a skill but about immersing oneself in a way that honors the connection between the earth, body, and spirit.
  3. Seek Continuing Education: Continue to educate yourself about the evolving practices and honor the sacred origins of this healing art. Look for additional massage therapy classes and lectures that can help you improve your practice.
  4. Build a Supportive Community: Connect with other Lomi Lomi practitioners. This community can be a valuable resource for sharing knowledge, experiences, and continuing to honor and evolve the practice in a respectful manner.

Embarking on the path of Lomi Lomi is a commitment to not only developing a skill but also nurturing a deep respect for an ancient healing tradition. It is an opportunity to offer a unique, holistic form of therapy that can bring profound healing and relaxation to recipients, all while honoring and preserving the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii.

If you’re interested in learning more about Lomi Lomi or becoming certified, contact Christine Mooney at the NEPA School of Massage. Classes run every fall and spring, so be sure to sign up!


Are there cultural considerations when opting for Lomi Lomi?

Yes, Lomi Lomi is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture. It’s essential to approach this message with respect for its cultural and spiritual aspects.

Are there any age or health restrictions for these massages?

Both massages are generally safe, but it’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider, especially for individuals with specific health conditions, the elderly, or children.

Can pregnant individuals benefit from either massage?

Swedish massage can be adapted for pregnant individuals. Lomi Lomi, while generally safe, may require modifications and should be performed by a therapist experienced in prenatal massage.