Ka'alele'au

by Kumu Penny Prior

Ka'aleleau is the Hawaiian name given to a form of exercise developed by Kahu Abraham Kawai'i, also called "flying" which came into being in 1987.
I began my studies with Kahu Abraham Kawai'i in 1987.  Kahu was born and raised in Hawai'i and is recognized as a kahuna (master or expert)  in several areas.  He primarily taught self development through specialized movement, Hawaiian bodywork, navigation, life principles and geomancy to name a few.  He started teaching in Hawai'i and the US before 1987.
My earliest memory of Ka'aleleau was when we were in a training camping on the island of Lanai in  Hawai'i  on a beach.  We would rise early in the morning and do different warm up moves and then then the bird like, Tai Chi like movement.  The foot work is very important for grounding and balancing.  Kahu could watch our movement and see our strength and weaknesses and could assess what blockages we had in life. The more we moved and with some guidance that would change with time and we could feel the shift happening outside and in. Ka'aleleau also had the effect of developing rhythm , coordination, physical strength, self awareness, and awareness of surroundings and takes one out of narrow or limited thinking into a place of expansion.  It is really like a moving meditation.
At first it was a very simple repetitive motion with different foot patterns and eventually we incorporated the arms as if we were birds flying.  Eventually we could understand that we were also being prepared for movement around a massage table. It was a powerful way to help us become connected to the earth and bring our energy up through our na'au ( physical, emotional and spirit center) and outward.  It is very important to incorporate the breath, sending energy out as you exhale and bringing it to yourself as you inhale energizing all persons involved.
Sometimes we would fly for hours and that would become challenging even if we were in a beautiful beach setting.  Good posture and body alignment was essential not to cause any injury.  Of course every individual has different needs to be considered.  Over the years, simple flying developed into more complicated steps and patterns.  However, Kahu stayed with four basic patterns to prepare you for the Hawaiian bodywork.  I  remember wanting to get on to the bodywork, but also knowing that it was deep preparation for the practitioner to be really centered, focused and clear before you touch a person's body to do Hawaiian bodywork or lomi lomi.  I am  impressed at how effective it is in increasing awareness and helping you to move in a Tai Chi way around the massage table as we do in our style of bodywork.
In recent times,  people who are not aspiring to learn bodywork, also have found Ka'aleleau helpful in changing unwanted patterns so they can move forward in their lives.  Other goals of "Flying"  were also achieved by flying in formation like a flock of birds.  You can feel the support around you and as time passes, the group begins to move as one being.  You become more attuned to what is happening around you, more sensitive to others and helps develop compassion for the family and a larger picture of the world around you.  Migrating birds do this for survival and for connection and ultimately compassion.  I feel that through Ka'aleleau, old natural instincts are stirred up and these exercises can help you have better ability to navigate through your life.