Author: Hale-Ola-Hawaii

What is Lomi?

The Hawaiian dictionary defines lomi as: to rub, press, crush, massage, rub out; to work in and out, like the claws of a contented cat. The term lomi refers to a traditional healing art as a part of Hawaiiam Medicine. It does not refer to any modern form or style of massage.

Through Hale Ola’s Lōkahi Lomilomi workshops, you will learn to bring relief from spasms, pain and stress for your beloved family, friends, colleagues and clients. Work with lomi in your home, office, spa, gym or in nature. It can be a rewarding profession as a part or full-time health care provider.



An important topic in health care is the impact of chronic, degenerative inflammation on the quality of our lifestyles. A Hawaiian word for this concept is “pehu”

Pehu is characterized by the time periods involved. For recent injuries, stress or trauma, the cardinal responses are heat, swelling, redness, pain and loss of function (acute).

In older, recurrent injuries, long term stress or trauma (chronic), those responses are changes of temperature ( loss of heat), swelling (edema), change of color (black or dark), episodic pain or periodic loss of function (morning joint stiffness).

These are different conditions. The latter, chronic state usually follows soon after the former, acute state. Although the idea of acute inflammation has been an observed condition since the early days of conventional medicine, there is no clear understanding of the causes for chronic or auto-inflammatory disorders. Biomedical efforts to address and manage symptoms of Pehu have involved steroidal drugs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, surgery or physical medicine.


Our experience in designing and implementing care plans for ohana, or former patients with Pehu has highlighted the need to approach each person as an individual. The goal is to evaluate each person and to create an integrative series of modalities, both modern and traditional, to address their ever changing profile of resilience and remission.

Background and Beneficial Effects of Chi Gong

Chi Gong is the ancient Chinese study of energy and movement which opens the door to self-healing and self-health. Chi Gong is considered to the the Mother of all Oriental healing, movement and martial arts.

Tai Ji Quan (Tai Chi Chuan) and Gong Fu (Kung Fu) are considered to be the children of Chi Gong. Chi Gong pre-existed the Oriental martial styles and schools. Today, Gi Gong is intimately related and connected with Taoist philosophy.

Taoists have revered and treasured the benefits of Chi Gong for many centuries. It is believed however, that Chi Gong predates Taoism. The ancient Chinese masters designed and created many techniques for the purpose of transforming the physical body.

These techniques of exercise, breathing and meditation were practiced and developed in order to improve, heal and rehabilitate the internal organs, neuromuscular, cardiovascular and orthopedic systems of the human body. The body responded with an increased immunological reaction against disease, increased vitality, decreased response to stress, increased strength and mobility, and longer life.

Modern masters of Chi Gong continue to practice, teach and share the wisdom of the treasured art. These techniques were preserved as secrets and treasures by small in-groups for thousands of years, in the Orient. Only recently have these teachings become accessible and available to outsiders and health practitioners in the West and in Hawaii. As a young man growing up in Keaukaha, a native community outside of Hilo on the island of Hawaii, I was fortunate to be exposed to Chi Gong to increase my self-healing abilities.

Chi Gong is written in English in a number of ways. Qigong is the Pinyin form of Romanization which is most popular in the Peoples’ Republic of China. Chi Kung is another widely known spelling in the West. I have chosen a form of writing which I believe comes closes to the phonetic pronunciation, Chee Goung.

The term Chi refers to the air which we breathe in and out. It also refers to the intrinsic vitality which circulates in the body.

The Chi which existed in the body prior to birth is called the pre-natal chi. The Chi which accumulates and circulates after birth is called the post-natal chi. This post-natal chi is accumulated, concentrated, and circulated by internal exercises, specific breathing and eating, Oriental therapies, and meditation.

The term Gong (or kung) means exercise, skill or training. Chi Gong is literally translated as breath training or revitalizing exercise. Rejuvenation and long life are two of the treasures which have been ascribed to the daily practice of Chi Gong.

In 1949, the average life expectancy in the Peoples’ Republic of China was only 35 years. In 1985, that figure increased to 68.9 years. In 2012, it increased to 75.2 years for males or 78 for females. Life expectancy more than doubled in only 27 years.

Chi Gong is credited with a great contribution to the improved health of Chinese teachers and students of Chi Gong.

The combination of breathing with meditation and relaxation has an incredible effect on personal and community health. Improved diet, herbology, massage, exercise, modern medicine and acupuncture must surely receive some of the the credit for the increased longevity of the Chinese people.

The Study of Chi Gong Includes the Three Aspects of Adjusting the Posture, Adjusting the Breath, and Adjusting the Mind.

These closely related elements represent the basic structure of Chi Gong. These elements must be practiced and learned in order to master the art and to enjoy the results.

In China, millions of people treat a number of diseases with Chi Gong. In recent years, the successful treatments of various chronic diseases like cancer have been widely accepted. Daily practice is performed in order to promote healing, in accordance with specific Chi Gong prescriptions for a specific ailment. Exercises are combined from Chi Gong, Tai Ji Quan, massage, walking and swimming for the treatment of hypertension, for example.

Specific exercises are prescribed for arteriosclerosis, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety and depression, stress, paralysis, brain concussion, sciatica and lumbar disc problems. Variations are designed for the average, normal person, as well as the sedentary, elderly, children, athletes and pregnant women.

Both mind and body are relaxed, the internal organs are massaged with each movement, and the pathways of the chi are opened and maintained by the natural motions of Chi Gong.

There are many kinds of Chi Gong being practiced in China and the rest of the world. Some of the most popular forms are for relaxation, fitness, and for the internal organs.

Principles for Practice


The word relax is not quite what the Chi Gong masters mean, but the closest that they can come in English to the Chinese word sung. This word sung means to become looser in the muscles and joints, but not so loose that the body collapses into a heap of muscles and bones. The necessary energy must be allowed to flow through the limbs and trunk in order to maintain a stable posture. Mental tension must be released externally, in order to relax, whereas the optimal levels of physical tension must be preserved in order to remain physically and mentally balanced. An imbalance of energy may result in excessive tension, which may be stored in the tissues which result in poor circulation, formation of trigger points, frozen joints, dysfunctions of the internal organs and systems, and neuropathy (numbness, weakness, tingling, pain or paralysis).

It is important to relax but at the same time to remain alert, aware, and poised for action. Chi Gong helps you to be ready to respond to a perceived need without overloading your systems with apprehension, tension or stress.

Pehu (Chronic Inflammation)

A central issue in health care is the concept of chronic inflammation. I use a Hawaiian word Pehu, to describe this syndrome. This may also be called auto-inflammatory disorder. This occurs when the host immune system attacks the body. Auto-immunity is another descriptive term. The condition may progress from a mild, occasional attack, to a painful, daily attack.

Our approach to understanding and providing care for this commonplace issue is to utilize more than one treatment modality. This integrative approach has been slowly but surely making a positive impression within the biomedical as well as alternative and complementary fields of health care.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

One representative chronic, auto-inflammatory disorder is rheumatoid arthritis. A blood test may be used to help confirm this diagnosis. How would you approach it, if you learned that you and other family members were diagnosed with this condition?

Would you expect your physician to prescribe drugs to relieve your symptoms of joint pain, muscle weakness and joint stiffness? How effective is that approach? Are there other ways that may be used to aid or supplement that type of pharmaceutical intervention?

Integrative Care

In my search for the answer to that question for my former patients, I was able to discover that mindful movements such as medical chi gong (qigong), or tai chi chuan (taijiquan) were capable of providing improved coordination and body mechanics, especially when practiced on a daily basis. Visualizing the breath and vital energy flowing through the joints also offered relief.

Applying herbal oils or salves on the skin helped to soothe tight muscles and improve circulation of blood and lymph fluids from the extremities and back to the heart. The use of hot stones on the body also aided in the spread of pain relief wherever it was applied. Stretching movements and Yoga have been documented as being very helpful in relief of inflammatory symptoms.

Food choices are also important in avoiding inflammatory impacts on our bodies. Nutritional supplements and herbs may help to offset the severity of the attacks.

Professionals may use needles to puncture the skin in special points across the body, especially around the joints. Chiropractic adjustments were effective in keeping joints open and functioning properly. Medical massage methods were also very helpful in relieving neuropathy, especially in combination with one or more of the above mentioned modalities.


Neuropathy may be present in cases of auto-inflammatory conditions. Neuropathy is related to symptoms of pain, stiffness, numbness, tingling, weakness or paralysis. When related to an internal organ, the neuropathy is a signal that organ damage has occurred.

I believe that neuropathy is the primary reason for a patient to seek medical or integrative health care. My studies have revealed that biomedical care is needed in some cases of neuropathy, but the integrative approach is most effective in the management of auto-inflammatory neuropathy.