By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein
DO NOT tell me to “just relax”. Hearing this only stresses me out and infuriates me. But, when I arrived at the spa instructing me to ‘Just Calm Down’, I actually felt…well, calm. And that was even before experiencing the ever-relaxing and culturally infused Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage, offered exclusively at the Flatiron district spa, just calm down.
Stepping into Just Calm Down Spa is like taking a leap back into your childhood. Or the Anthropologie catalog. Take your pick. The rich hued drapery set against brick walls and velvet furniture make you feel like you’re in the set of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is the perfect spa to indulge in ‘pedicures for 2’ under a canopy of tapestries, relaxing on comfy sofas with your best friend. Its fanciful ambiance makes just calm down a nice alternative to the modern yet sterile feel of a typical Manhattan spa. I also couldn’t help but smile when reading the cleverly named list of treatments: ‘A Pumpkin for your Thoughts’, the ‘Lemonade Stand’, the ‘Marriage of Figaro’, the ‘Wrap Artist’, and the ‘Grape Gatsby’, to name a few. If you’re in need of a ‘theme gift’ idea, their list of services is definitely something to check out.
Since many East Coasters trek the requisite bajillion hours to Hawaii only after saying “I do”, the Lomi Lomi massage is a great way to bring a “peace of Hawaii” back to your NY apartment. . Although I was offered an extensive list of songs to choose from to listen to during my treatment, I opted for a full Hawaiian experience and ambiance instead. Feeling as though I was lying in a beachside hut at sunset, listening to the waves crashing and a luau off in the distance, I drifted off to sleep minutes after my massage therapist, Kawai Anakalea, began the treatment.
This unique healing massage is derived from the ancient Polynesians and more specifically the master healers of Hawaii. When I asked Kawai what made this treatment different from a typical deep tissue massage, she explained how she brings her Hawaiian ancestry and training into practice when performing Lomi Lomi. The Hawaiians look at things in terms of energy flow, following the idea that an idea or belief can block energy flow as much as muscle tension can. The Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage helps release the blockages while at the same time give the energy new direction. It is not just a physical experience. It also facilitates healing on the mental, emotional, and spiritual levels as well. Through the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage, stress and tension are relieved, blood and lymph flow are assisted, and the elimination of wastes and toxins stimulated.
A traditional Lomi Lomi Massage commences with stillness between the practitioner and client, often with the practitioner’s hands gently resting on the clients back. In this stillness the practitioner will quietly say a blessing or prayer asking for whatever healing is needed to take place during the massage. According to Huna philosophy, energy gets blocked in the joints. Gentle stretches of the body and gentle rotations of the joints are also incorporated in this massage to release the tensions and assist in the flow of energy. Having just landed after a long international flight, my body was one big ball of tension. Kawai used her elbows more than her hands to release this tension and keep the energy flowing. As with other massages, I was sore the next day, but once the initial sensitivity passed, I felt great.
Lomi Lomi is a highly effective deep tissue massage that left me feeling relaxed, my muscles feeling elongated and my knots untangled. And I could definitely tell that Kawai was spiritually present when she’s working. She’s more than just your average masseuse; she’s a healer as well.