'Lomi' is the Hawaiian word for 'rub', and hence Lomi lomi has come to mean the practice of massage originating in this tropical island nation and encompasses any type of Hawaiian Massage. American missionaries invaded the Hawaiian islands in 1820 and, as ships came and went with supplies (and sometimes natives eager to leave), the native massage practice spread to the west. Sometimes you will here the term Ka Huna used to refer to Hawaiian Bodywork. Ka Huna specifically refers to the temple form of bodywork that is done with the forearms more so than the hands.
Like many massage styles Lomi lomi can be (and traditionally is) part of a larger healing routine, including prayer, meditation and diet. As a stand-alone massage technique it is still superb. Originally practiced by native healers, even believed to affect digestion and restore harmony within the family, it has tangible benefits. It was often a useful adjunct to those who practiced Hawaiian-style martial arts.
Like many Asian-style therapies, it is based on tribal wisdom about energy called Huna. Huna theory, on which the practice is based, is a complex set of beliefs about the relation between the spiritual and physical, according to which energy gets blocked in the joints. The style evolved to 'unblock' this 'energy'. Clients may see a practitioner perform a traditional Hawaiian dance around the table during the treatment, and a treatment is designed to include the mental, physical and spiritual energies.
Lomilomi massage involves applying continuous, flowing strokes to relax the muscles. Red clay or Hawaiian salt is sometimes used to cleanse and prepare the client's body for the therapy. Some sessions involve time in a steam hut or plunges into the ocean to stimulate circulation.
Gentle stretches and rotation of limbs results in a relaxed body and a peaceful spirit. Even the practitioner's humming can help induce a pleasant frame of mind. The recipient lays directly on the massage table as this eases the ability of the masseuse to apply full-body strokes in one smooth motion. Many of these involve lifting and applying pressure under the body during the procedure, which makes for an unusual and delightful experience. The rhythm with which the movements proceed will vary widely, since Lomi lomi practice is very individual and intuitive. The formality of other styles is largely absent here.
Occasionally, Lomilomi will actually be carried out by two practitioners at the same time, this is an amazing experience.