Though there are many aspects of, and definitions for Yoga, I have always loved the simplicity of the one most of my yoga teachers have offered: a conscious union of body and mind, creating more harmony in our being. When I became introduced to the work of Ancient Lomi Lomi (also known as Ke Ala Hoku — Pathway to the Stars), I was surprised to find that most of the work was not at all about bodywork, but about the awakening of our own cellular consciousness. One method used to explore the Great Mystery inside of our bodies is called ‘Ho’omanamana’. In the words of my teacher, Kahu Abraham Kawai’i, Ho’omanamana is “stretching as awareness of physical, psychological and energetic body and its' connection to breath. Ho’omanamana is taking old, ancient or unused energies and converting them in to contributing functions.”
As I dived into this powerful work, I came to view Ho’omanamana very much like a form of Ancient Yoga. Consciously making gentle circular, or stretching movements throughout the joints, muscles, liquids and connective tissues of the body, I discovered an experience of deep interconnection between tissues, breath, awareness, emotions, memories, thoughts and expanded consciousness. Beginning stages of Ho’omanamana allow us to begin to listen deeply to the many layers of our being by paying particular attention to breath and sensation as we move.
As a dancer, used to pushing my body to (and past) its’ limits, I was fascinated by the gentleness of the practice and it’s encouragement to honor the early boundaries of my range of motion. The slow movements felt deeply comfortable to me and I would wake up early to give myself plenty of time for the practice. For over three years, I practiced Ho’omanamana for a minimum of 3 hours each morning. To my surprise, I found it to be full of emotion. Anger, sadness and fear would emerge unexpectedly as I moved towards different positions. I spent much of that time in tears, as layers of sadness, trapped in my tissues, came rising to the surface. Most of the time, I had no idea why I was crying, but felt great relief emotionally as well as more and more freedom in my body. After each session, I felt as if I had more ‘space’ to breathe, think, feel and move. As it evolves, Ho’omanamana begins to include practices to develop strength, deeper flexibility and build Mana (life force energy).
Like Yoga, this Ancient body of work approaches the moving body as a foundation for awareness to arise and for consciousness to flow more freely through all of us, structure included. In the paradigm of Ancient Lomi Lomi, the body is recognized as a huge part of the subconscious mind, holding within it, every experience we were unable to ‘metabolize’ consciously. As we are able to ‘let go’ and be guided by the wisdom of our sensations, we are shown various pathways, through the complexity of our being, which result in deep healing. In this way, Ho’omanamana is like an ‘adaptogen’ — an herb which responds uniquely to each person’s particular needs. One persons’ trajectory of healing from a car accident or a broken arm, will be very different from anothers’. As we start listening on a cellular level, we realize that our own unique pathway of healing is already here, waiting for our open attention. Our cellular consciousness knows how deeply to breathe, which positions to hold, how quickly to move in any given moment, what emotions may need to be released, what awarenesses need to be uncovered, etc.
Listening and following, in this Ancient practice, gave me a potent and grounded pathway to access all aspects of my system, and promote a profound, and ever-deepening, sense of well-being. I have found Ho’omanaamana to be, Like Yoga, a union of the vast dimensions of our being, allowing us to approach Life with more wholeness. Mahalo to Kahu and all who came before him, for bringing this profound work to the modern world.
Published with Living Aloha Magazine, Maui, September 2016.