The journey for Ho’omana to become a Maui massage school started with unlikely roots in a physical therapy office in California almost 20 years ago.
Back in 2000, I was a practicing orthopedic physical therapist and I loved it. I worked with all types of people, educating them about their bodies, teaching therapeutic exercises and showing patients how self-massage techniques could help them to feel better. In other words, I loved working with people and telling them how they could help themselves to be healthy and whole.
However, western medicine, as an industry, didn’t allow for holistic healing in the way that I had learned.
My grandmother on my mother’s side was a healer and medicine woman. From the young age of three, I worked along side her as she did her work.
I learned the reflexive points in the feet that correlate to each part of the body. She taught me about healthy, whole food and urban farming practices. My grandmother was a very spiritual woman and she used prayer quite a bit in the work that she did. This was the foundational work that drew me into a career in healthcare.
Physical therapy school was so amazing! I learned about the body and kinesiology and neurology. Biology, physiology and anatomy were all incredibly fascinating to me. And yet, when I got into the practice of physical therapy, I found it to be very compartmentalized.
What I mean by that is, we were given instructions to work on one thing, and ONLY one thing. For example, when someone would come in complaining of knee pain, the prescription from the doctor would be for knee treatment. I would begin my assessment only to find the source of the pain was not the knee but the back.
Remember the song, “The thigh bone’s connected to the knee bone. The shin bone’s connected to the ankle bone…”?
Anatomy teaches us that each of the bones and joints are connected so it makes sense that a problem in one area could have an affect on another part of the body. However, according to the prescription, I was only allowed to work on the knee. In order for me to treat the back and resolve the knee, I’d have to send the person back to their physician to get a new prescription. What a mess!
Here’s another example:
Because the healthcare industry is highly regulated by insurance companies, a person may only receive a set number of visits for treatment. If you don’t get fast results, the patient may have to leave even when they still have pain.
The process was so limiting and frustrating for me!
I kept getting in trouble at work. If I knew the knee pain was coming from the back, I’d just treat the back anyway. I didn’t want my patients to have to go back to the doctor and then wait for another appointment in the physical therapy office. I wanted them to be well, so I treated the source.
After that, I’d be reprimanded. It was like I became a black sheep in my little physical therapy community because I was always going against the grain.
When I started my first Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massage class at Aunty Margaret Machado’s house on Big Island, everything finally made sense to me. There were so many contrasts:
In the physical therapy clinic, I spent 10 hour days seeing a patient every 15 minutes. They might get another treatment with an aide, some ultrasound, electric stimulation, etc but only receive a 15 minute consult with me.
However, at Aunty Margaret’s, I watched her work on people in every way that I ever learned in physical therapy school: meaning to the depth, with pressure, addressing alignment and anatomy, and mobilizing the body into alignment, but she was also incorporating spiritual prayers and herbal medicine. Just like my grandmother. She spent time with her clients.
By that time, I had already been in the healthcare industry for five years. I was on the brink of losing hope at my ability to help people the way that I wanted to but when I saw Aunty work, I thought to myself,
“This is exactly what I was meant to do.”
Aunty Margaret had a place where people could come to learn and clients could come and receive healing. There was a beautiful sweat house in the backyard and the majestic Kealakekua Bay out in front. It was magical.
One day, sitting on the deck at Aunty Margaret’s, I decided what I was going to do. I would create a place where people could come to heal and where healers could come to learn. The seed for the school of massage on Maui that would later become Ho’omana.
The next step in that journey took me to Aunty Angeline Locey on Kauai, an apprentice of Aunty Margaret. Her Lomi sanctuary was called Mu’olaulani, where young buds bloom. Aunty Angeline had sweat houses where she did Lomi Lomi in the steam. It was extraordinary!
I shared my vision of creating a space like the one she had and like the one Aunty Margaret had.”I’m going to help you every step of the way.”, she said.
Aunty Angeline sent me to Big Island to learn from a woman named Anne. Anne had been instrumental in helping her build Mu’olaualani in the first place.
Eventually, I ended up on the island of Maui, working in an office. It had a cold plunge in the back and steam room where we offered Lomi Lomi. I found out later that Anne had also built this clinic. No coincidence.
My vision just kept getting closer and closer…
On Wednesday nights (and any other time Aunty called on me) I gave back at a community clinic in Wai’ehu led by my mentor, Aunty Mahilani Poepoe. One evening during clinic, she pointed to a woman in the waiting area and said, ”One day you’re going to move up country and when you’re ready, ask this woman who is a realtor to help you find a place.”
I was living at the beach at that time and thought to myself, “No, I don’t want to live up country. I don’t think so.”
Sure enough, 2 years later well after Aunty had passed away, I was impressed to begin looking for a property. I went to the only realtor that I knew, the one from Wai’ehu clinic, and she directed me.
We met in Kahului town and together began the drive winding up and up Haleakala. The very first place she showed us was Ho’omana. I stepped onto the property and just knew that it was meant to be. It already had a little spa room and a house for the family. It was perfect!
We have been welcoming guests ever since. People come to heal and to feel empowered. We’ve had yoga retreats, meditation retreats, lamas, and different indigenous healers from all over the world come and share their wisdom.
Now we’re offering our own Lomi Lomi Hawaiian healing retreats here at Ho’omana. We work closely with the Maui School of Therapeutic Massage sharing Lomi Lomi and the spiritual teachings of aloha.
All of the inspiration I received over these many years is here at Ho’omana. We now have an award-winning spa that runs seven days a week with more than 21 therapists who are doing healing chants and prayers, offering traditional herbal formulations. There is a beautiful tub house where people can take awa baths.
We have healers, massage therapists and practitioners from all over the world coming to learn Lomi at our massage school on Maui. In the Advanced Lomi Lomi Spring retreat last month, we had students from 12 different countries!
Our intention here at Ho’omana is to help empower the spirit and to send these messengers, ambassadors of aloha, back out into the world where they can wrap the arms of aloha around the globe.
This was Aunty Margaret’s vision, and Aunty Mahi’s vision. We are continuing that legacy here at Ho’omana. We’ve had over a thousand students from 33 countries come to Ho’omana to learn Lomi Lomi Hawaiian Massage.
In the words of our Lomi sister, Siggy Boyle:
“This program is for anybody who is willing to take the next step as a body worker, but more than that as a human being…ready to contribute to community in a unique and special way.”
Siggy came from Australia to our Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage school on Maui. She shares her experience beautifully, in this short 3-minute video.
If you feel called to learn these teachings, to learn about Ho’oponopono, la’au lapa’au herbal medicine, come to one of our retreats. Immerse yourself in the culture with the land and the connection to an ancient Hawaiian people and their wisdom.
Sending my aloha,