The origins of traditional Hawaiian massage are rooted in the ancient chapters of the islands’ Indigenous peoples. But thanks to 7 Elements Wellness Spa, “lomi lomi” — the phrase used to identify this increasingly popular style of massage blending body and spirit work — is now offered right here in Whatcom County.

The word itself, “lomi,” is defined in the Hawaiian language as to rub, press, squeeze, knead, or massage, among other verbs. In more particular terms, “lomi” is “to work in and out, (like) claws of a contented cat.”

The massage — which features slow, soothing massage strokes up and down a person’s entire body, as if to mimic gentle ocean waves — is based on traditional Hawaiian healing arts and religion, says 7 Elements Operations Manager Emma Winningham.

7 Elements’ massage rooms are quiet, private, and relaxing. Photo courtesy 7 Elements Wellness Spa

“It’s a holistic approach to massage,” she says. “It combines relaxing, fluid movements and deep, focused work, while also asking the spirits guide in healing.”

Lomilomi massage was actually banned or regulated in Hawaii for periods of time.

According to R. Makana Risser Chai’s 2005 book, “Na Mo’olelo Lomilomi: Traditions of Hawaiian Massage and Healing,” the arrival of American missionaries in the 1820s led to the prohibition of native Hawaiian healing practices as medicine. In 1886, the Hawaiian Kingdom’s legislature banned curing through indigenous methods, but Lomilomi as just massage was generally allowed and practiced.

In 1947, the territory’s board of massage began regulating Lomilomi. Practitioners were required to pass written tests, and many native healers either wouldn’t or couldn’t do so. It wasn’t until 2001 that the state’s legislature legally allowed native practitioners to be medically certified to practice Lomilomi without fear of violating any laws.

Lomilomi encompasses the relaxation and healing of both body and spirit, and consists of long, flowing massage strokes up and down the entire body. Photo courtesy 7 Elements Wellness Spa

At 7 Elements, massage therapist Lauren has plenty of training and experience in the massage style: she was trained by two therapists who were themselves trained by the first native Hawaiian to professionally train non-natives in Lomilomi.

has plenty of training and experience in the massage style: she was trained by two therapists who were themselves trained by the first native Hawaiian to professionally train non-natives in Lomilomi.

“Everyone who’s come out has said it was really great,” says Winningham, “and that Lauren did a great job.”

When someone enters 7 Elements for a Lomilomi session, they begin with a short period of intention-setting and reflection. The spiritual component of the practice allows someone to ask themselves why they’re getting the massage and what they hope to gain from it.

The wellness spa’s waiting room is well-known for the relaxing ambiance of its Himalayan salt wall. Photo courtesy 7 Elements Wellness Spa

One of the core concepts of Lomilomi, Winningham says, is that memories are held in our bones. As such, different parts of the body can represent different aspects or relationships in our lives.

It’s also important to know that Lomilomi patrons are traditionally unclothed, save for covering of private areas. In the interest of whatever’s most comfortable for a 7 Elements customer, however, Lauren can work around whatever amount of clothing is desired for the massage.

7 Elements massage therapist Lauren has special training in Lomilomi, a traditional Hawaiian form of massage. Photo courtesy 7 Elements Wellness Spa

Available to be scheduled on Thursdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Lomilomi sessions are offered at 60-, 90- and 120-minute durations. The latter time period is unique to lomi lomi and not available for other forms of massage, which include Swedish, hot stone, and deep tissue.

If the nurturing and loving touch of Hawaiian massage is calling out to your body and soul, consider scheduling a Lomilomi session today.


7 Elements Wellness Spa is located at 7714 Birch Bay Drive, Suite #1, in Birch Bay, and 7 Elements Physical Therapy is located at 8097 Harborview Road, Suite B, in Birch Bay.


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