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What is Kahuna Massage?

Health & Wellness
Last Updated Jun 21, 2021

What is Kahuna Massage?


  1. What is Kahuna Massage or Kahuna Bodywork?
    1. The Difference Between Temple Style Bodywork & Lomi Lomi Massage
  2. Origins and Philosophy Behind Kahuna Massage
    1. Rite of Passage & the Hawaiian Philosophy
    2. Healing the Body, Mind & Soul
    3. Kahuna & Self-Healing
  3. Kahuna Massage Benefits

Kahuna massage is an ancient therapeutic massage technique based on the teachings and practices of the Hawaiian Kahunas. In the language of native Hawaiians, the word "kahuna" is derived from "huna" which means "secret knowledge." In other words, a Kahuna was a master practitioner of the huna arts. The massage ("lomi lomi") was traditionally practiced in the Hawaiian Islands as one of the Kahuna healing arts and for relaxation. Kahuna massage in the West is also said to be therapeutic and extremely relaxing.

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What is Kahuna Massage or Kahuna Bodywork?

As a holistic bodywork, Kahuna massage eliminates energy blockages in the body to allow life to flow freely throughout the mind, body and spirit. It involves long, flowing strokes that reconnect the individual to the core of their being and restore balance to their life.

There are two important aspects of Kahuna massage that set it apart from other types of massage therapy:

  1. It is very rhythmic and vigorous. The practitioner uses their hands, elbows, fingers and even their forearms as they rhythmically move around the table. The people who have experienced lomi lomi before often said that the rhythmic motions alone already have a deeply relaxing effect that is different from the muscle relaxation coming from conventional massages.
  2. In Kahuna massage, the practitioner's intention and focus is of paramount importance. They are trained to be focused totally on their client with an attitude of compassion and love, which is the essence of the "aloha" spirit that is sacred to the Hawaiian people.

The Kahuna massage is often said to be a holistic natural therapy that is designed to heal the body, mind, and spirit. Before starting the massage session, the practitioner may encourage you to talk about the physical and emotional reasons for wanting to have the treatment. By doing so, it helps them to adjust themselves to your needs before the massage starts.

The rhythmic "hula" style movements of the practitioner as they "dance" around the table are also meant to create a harmony between the practitioner and the client.

Hawaiian philosophy & Kahuna massage

The Difference Between Temple Style Bodywork & Lomi Lomi Massage

Lomi lomi is a holistic healing art that covers a variety of massage styles that vary from one family to another, and are passed down through generations. It incorporates rhythmic strokes, breath, hula and spirit. The Temple Style Bodywork, also known as Kahuna massage, is one style of lomi lomi which employs flowing strokes using the hands, elbows and forearms to stimulate the flow of energy throughout the client's body and synchronise their breath and heartbeat. 

In a Kahuna bodywork, the therapist applies body oil to the client's body before performing the rhythmical strokes, allowing their hands to glide freely and the client to reconnect with their inner self and transform on a cellular level. 

Origins and Philosophy Behind Kahuna Massage

According to the Hawaiian Kahunas, Kahuna massage was originally practised in the royal temples of Hawaii to address the ailments of the king and other members of the royal family. It also played an important role in various rites of passage. 

The bodywork works on improving the posture and motion of the client while taking into account the seven Kahuna principles. In doing so, the practitioner allows the client to develop self-awareness and experience transformational healing.

Rite of Passage & the Hawaiian Philosophy

Because it was traditionally practised during rites of passage ceremonies in the royal temples, Kahuna massage is worth receiving when you're going through a life transition. It is unlike any other bodywork as it goes beyond improving physical health. Besides alignment and relaxation, a practitioner of this bodywork can guide their client to developing mental clarity, self-awareness, happiness and love by employing the seven principles of the Hawaiian philosophy:

  • IKE – The world is what you think it is.
  • KALA – There are no limits to what you can do. Limitations only exist in one's mind.
  • MAKIA – Your life is where you put your focus on.
  • MANAWA – You are not defined by your past or future. The present gives you the power to act on the changes that you want to make in your life.
  • ALOHA – Love is happiness
  • MANA – The power to do what you decide to do lies in you, not outside of you.
  • PONO – Any plan, when put into action, will reap positive results.

Healing the Body, Mind & Soul

Perhaps the use of oil on the body is the only similarity between a massage therapy and a Kahuna bodywork. Apart from that, the latter is more holistic in nature as it works on the mind, body and soul as an integrated whole instead of separate parts. The practitioner doesn't stroke the body to address an ailment, but to shift the energy that flows within it to release unhealthy patterns of behaviour, beliefs and emotions.

Kahuna & Self-Healing

Stimulating the flow of energy within the body through Kahuna massage supports the body's inherent ability to heal itself and restore balance to the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of an individual. Every single stroke used aims to stimulate the body's natural wisdom so that it can apply changes where they are needed. 

Kahuna Massage Benefits

Benefits of Kahuna massage

The Kahuna massage can help stimulate the different systems in the human body such as the lymphatic, circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems. It is also used to treat various conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, muscle tension, joint stiffness and headaches. Many people who've experienced this bodywork can also vouch for its efficacy in addressing a host of emotional problems such as:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Trauma
  • Fears and phobias
  • Low self-esteem
  • Exhaustion

Kahuna massage can also help improve your outlook, especially if you're currently standing at the crossroads of your life. Changing jobs, getting married, the birth of your first child or uncertainty as to which direction to take in your life shouldn't cause feelings of fear. With the guidance of a Kahuna bodywork practitioner, you will be able to go through any phase with ease and grace.

While it is not necessary to have an education in the traditions and beliefs of the ancient Hawaiians in order to benefit from Kahuna massage, an understanding of some of their core beliefs may help you appreciate it better. In a lot of ways, the philosophy of the Kahunas is similar to the philosophies of other ancient cultures. The word "huna" is an amalgam of two ancient Hawaiian language words: "hu" which means male energy and "na" which means female energy. A Kahuna massage is designed to bring the two internal energies into balance similar to how the Traditional Chinese Medicine is designed to balance the yin and yang (female and male) energies.

Find a Kahuna massage therapist in your area if you are searching for a unique form of massage that is based on ancient spiritual traditions. It may change your life. If not, you will at least come away feeling relaxed and refreshed and invigorated.

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Originally published on Dec 13, 2011

FAQs About Kahuna & Lomi Lomi Massage

What happens in a Lomi Lomi Massage?

Lomo lomi massage is a full-body oil bodywork that involves continuous, flowing strokes with the hands, forearms and elbows, hence the client should be fully undressed. However, they can leave their undergarments on if they wish to do so.

Is Lomi Lomi Massage good?

Yes, indeed! Lomi lomi goes beyond treating muscle pain. It unblocks the energy fields in the body, promotes its natural healing ability and supports spiritual and emotional growth.

What is Kahuna healing?

Kahuna healing is what you experience after receiving Kahuna bodywork, a holistic Hawaiian massage that eliminates energy blockages in the body to restore balance to the mind, body and spirit.

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