If you’ve ever visited Hanalei Bay in the summer, you know it’s like a lake, with a dozen or so sailboats moored in the shallows and the surf tickling the shores of this two-mile crescent-shaped beach.
If you’ve ever visited Hanalei Bay in the winter, you know it attracts champion surfers from around the world for the epic surf, sometimes building to 25-foot faces.
The two views of Hanalei Bay exemplify much of Hawai’i. No two experiences are the same. It’s the same with lomilomi for me. I’ve heard many different definitions of lomilomi, the simplest of which is that it’s a traditional Hawaiian healing art that incorporates massage. According to my Hawaiian dictionary, the definition of “lomi” is “to rub, press, squeeze, massage; to work in and out, as the claws of a contented cat.” Generally speaking, the massage technique is characterized by long, deep strokes using the palms, forearms, fingers, knuckles, elbows, knees, feet--even sticks and stones.
Spas are notorious haunts for girlfriend getaways, and in this regard, my girlfriend Julie and I are no different. We visited a neighbor for a bit of lomilomi. Angeline’s Mu’olaulani is located in the home of Angeline Locey in Anahola. Its name translates to “a place for young buds to bloom.”
Besides the homey setting, the things that make Angeline’s place unique are as frequent as the waves in winter. There’s the octagon-shaped steam room. The salt scrub preceding the massage. And the tag-team match of two lomi practitioners on each client. That calculates to four hands on my body. Heaven.
In Old Hawai’i, skills and knowledge were passed down from family member to family member. It’s the same here. Even though Angeline no longer gives massage, her son Michael and granddaughter Malia do.
I’ve enjoyed lomilomi that energized me. I’ve enjoyed some lomi sessions that relaxed me so that I fell asleep. Others that felt like an out-of-body experience. My massage with Michael and his wife Momi was like none of these other experiences.
When I first arrived at Angeline’s, I slipped out of my clothes and wrapped a pareau around me. I noticed a stack of “Angel Cards” sitting on a shelf in the dressing room. I shuffled them and picked one. It read, “Now.”
Later, I decided this word was a hint to what I would experience with my lomilomi practitioners. I did not fall asleep. I did not check out. I did not teleport to another planet. I was fully present. The treatment turned out to be a tour of my athletic career. Michael went straight for my paddling shoulders. Then, he headed for my cycling hips, while Momi found my hockey knee and runner’s iliotibial band. It felt restorative. Like a physical therapy session that required no effort on my part. Except, of course, to remember to breathe. In. Out. In. Out.