Lomilomi has its roots in lua, Hawaiian martial arts. Ancient warriors needed to know how to mend bones in the field. A lua master’s final training includes ho‘onoho iwi, or “resitting the bones,” says Naluai. “When you relax the muscles and attachments to joints, you can reset bones easily.”
Often, the therapeutic benefits of lomilomi begin before a practitioner lays hands on a client. Hawaiian healers commence each treatment with a prayer. “Sometimes Aunty Mahi would just pray with someone and the ailment would fall away,” says Naluai. As fabulous as this sounds, even Western medicine acknowledges that shifts in a person’s attitude can make all the difference in his or her ability to heal.
During one of the evening sessions in Waiehu, Poepoe motioned towards a very sick woman, a local realtor who was dying of liver failure. “Talk to her when you’re ready to move upcountry,” Poepoe told Naluai, who looked askance. The young massage therapist lived in Kihei at the time; she had no intention of relocating upcountry — nor did the realtor look like she would live long enough to make another sale. Soon after, Poepoe herself passed away, and Naluai decided to open her own healing center. When she went looking for the right location, Poepoe’s words proved prophetic. The realtor, now fully recovered, sold Naluai a special parcel of land up in the forest above Makawao town.
Ho‘omana Spa is tucked into a curve along Pi‘iholo Road. It’s a far trek from just about anywhere on the island, but those who make the journey are well rewarded. Naluai brings ancient wisdom into a contemporary luxury-spa setting. The grounds are lushly landscaped with fragrant flowers and medicinal plants. The elegant treatment rooms feel cozy, like a bedroom in your favorite aunty’s house. Couples can retreat into the bathhouse, where they can sink into two deep marble tubs filled with warm water and aromatic herbs.
On one occasion a man visiting from Barcelona approached the few steps up to the door at Ho‘omana with trepidation; for years his injured knee had forced him to walk crablike up stairs. To his astonishment, the pain disappeared as he climbed the spa’s stairs. He asked Naluai, “What happened? How did you do that?” She replied that she had simply cleared the energy surrounding the spa.