Lomilomi - Hawaiian massage

Temple Style Lomilomi Massage

Hawaiian traditions of healing, community, and spirituality gave birth to the unique massage style called Lomilomi. Many styles of Lomilomi massage developed, as it was handed down through many families. For ages, Lomilomi could only be experienced in Hawaii. But now you can find Lomilomi worldwide. Here at Rockin’ Good Health I practice Temple Style Lomilomi massage. 

How does Temple Style Lomilomi differ from other massage styles? Is Temple Style Lomilomi right for you?

Lomilomi Origins

When Captain James Cook “discovered” Hawaii in 1778 [1] he found a welcoming people living in paradise. The friendly relationship between Cook and the Hawaiians ended as the Europeans began to exploit the people. Over time, American missionaries and others came to the beautiful Hawaiian islands. As they did, they tried to suppress local traditions. They drove the spiritual and healing arts underground. These traditions survived only by oral tradition.

We are thankful that Hawaiian Kahunas (masters of their art) maintained the practice of Lomilomi in secret. In the early 1970’s “Auntie Margaret” (Margaret Kalehuamakanoelu’ulu’uonäpali Machado) became one of the first to teach Lomilomi to non-Hawaiians [2].

How is Temple Style Lomilomi Massage Different?

It’s a Little Bit Like Swedish Massage….

Temple Style Lomilomi resembles Swedish massage, to some extent [3]. Both styles include long, flowing strokes. They both make a great “relaxation” massage. Lomilomi and Swedish massage both use a lubricant for a smooth flow. A Swedish massage therapist uses lotion, cream, or oil. But in Lomilomi we always use a plain oil, and a lot of it!

Swedish massage strokes often run the length of a limb. One stroke may cover the whole back. In contrast, Lomilomi massage is unconstrained. One stroke may run from heel, to shoulder, and back again! The Lomilomi giver spends the session in an improvisational dance [4]. They follow their intuition (or the guidance of their Uhane, the higher self). The signals given by the receiver’s body guide them to bring peace and healing wherever it is needed.

A typical Swedish massage focuses on one area at a time. The therapist works on one area at at time. They uncover, massage, and re-cover each area as they go. Then they move on to the next area. The therapist may not return to an area once it has been massaged. Clients who’ve never experienced Lomilomi expect this kind of piece-wise massage. 

Unlike typical Swedish massage, Temple Style Lomilomi massage treats the receiver’s body holistically. It’s more like a dance. Instead of focusing on one part at a time, the dance can move from leg, to trunk, to neck, and back again. The giver may leave one area, focus on other areas, and return again. The feeling resembles an ocean wave, lapping and rocking the receiver’s body, promoting deep relaxation.

But the Draping….

Minimal draping makes the free-flowing movement possible. But some clients may not be comfortable with minimal draping. As a  licensed massage therapist, I always maintains proper draping, and respectfully follow state regulations [5]. In my practice, you may chose traditional (minimal) draping or more modest draping. I also offer disposable undergarments for your use, which will not interfere with the Lomilomi experience. You determine the modesty level, within state regulations. And I encourage you to enjoy the kind of massage with which you are comfortable.

The videos below give examples of the Temple Lomilomi massage style. The person giving Lomi Lomi in these videos is my teacher, Tom Cochran, from SacredLomi.com.

Honoring the Spiritual Origin

Some therapists who were not born to the Hawaiian spiritual roots of Lomilomi share Lomilomi as just another bodywork style. This has drawn criticism from some Hawaiian elders, who believe the bodywork shouldn’t be separated from its spiritual essence. But others, like Harry Uhane Jim [6], have decided to train non-Hawaiians in Lomilomi as a way to preserve the tradition and share the understanding of Aloha, outside of Hawaii.

Some non-Hawaiian givers attempt to honor the spiritual origins of the Lomilomi style. They do this by including pule (loosely, prayer) or other meditation, traditional Hawaiian music, and other elements. These elements create a fuller (if not fully authentic), spiritual experience for the receiver.

In my practice, I share a Ho’oponopono-inspired guided meditation with the receiver before the Lomilomi bodywork [7]. I also personally meditate on the Four Declarations of the Halau for the Lomilomi Giver [6]. My intent is for it to create an ideal setting for the session, for both of us. I do this hopefully, to set the tone for the work and to enhance the healing experience for the receiver.


1. My presence in the Halau is a sacred manifestation from me to myself to shower gratitude, growth, and bliss to my whole being and through me to the receiver.

2. I focus to enter into and to sustain my temple for Lomilomi in the Pu‘u wai, the sacred space of the heart. From the heart and through the heart, the essence of my light, my Uhane supports, guides, and graces my touch.

3. I commit the energy of certainty to the abundance and perfection of my intuition, as I am radiant in the Light of Aloha.

4. I will my will to compassionate disengagement. I am sustained by Aloha, the breath of God is in our presence.

Wise Secrets of Aloha: Learn and Live the Sacred Art of Lomilomi, by Harry Uhane Jim