Nicole Fonovich, owner of Phoenix-based mobile holistic healing company Nicole Anne Yoga, has always been committed to providing comfort and connection to her clients.
It turns out that “bringing the zen to you” – as her tagline suggests – without a brick-and-mortar studio has come in handy as people opt to spend more time at home.
Fonovich has been offering virtual yoga classes and sound healing and meditation services since 2017 and says that a growing number of people have gravitated to these offerings as a way to cope and feel calmer through 2020.
Fonovich and her team of holistic practitioners and yoga teachers offer free meditation and yoga classes each week via Facebook Live.
Pre-pandemic, Fonovich and her team would lead classes at schools and senior centers. Now, she says, they can actually reach more people as they’ve ramped up their virtual services.
“I feel that the training that I’ve done has been all in preparation for exactly what we’re going through right now,” she says. “The meditation has allowed me to remain focused and steady amidst the chaos around us that is happening.”
Fonovich was born with a degenerative disc disease.
“I started having back trouble at about 8 years old and it never stopped me,” she says. “I still participated in sports and every activity I possibly could.”
When she was 15, she felt a pop in her back at a swim meet. That was the indication of her first surgery. She was out of school and had a tutor come to her home for nearly a year. She did physical therapy and occupational therapy. She also discovered yoga.
“It’s kind of where physical therapy and occupational therapy leads off,” she explains. “Yoga is something you can continue for the rest of your life.”
Fonovich says she has utilized yoga as way to manage her condition and chronic pain without prescription pain medication.
“Most people with my condition would be bed-ridden, but people look at me and they’re like, ‘You’ve had surgery?’” she says. “I swear it’s because of the yoga.”
She went on to study at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe to become an advanced yoga teacher and holistic practitioner. It was there that she learned about meditation and sound healing.
“The meditations specifically allowed me to drop into this very restful state where I didn’t have any pain,” she says. “For someone who deals with chronic pain, that was magic.”
She wanted to share that magic with others, so she started her own company, which now has more than 45 teachers and practitioners under the Nicole Anne Yoga umbrella. They work with clients one-on-one virtually or in person across the country and Canada, offering every type of yoga you can imagine. And it’s not just yoga – they specialize in hypnotherapy, holistic nutrition, life coaching, reiki, neuropathic emotional therapy, polarity, spiritual coaching and more, and many of the practitioners are certified in multiple modalities.
Fonovich says that yoga and meditation are not “one and done” processes. The benefits are cumulative, she explains. She recommends practicing five times a week for eight consecutive weeks to receive the maximum benefits.
“It’s something that we want to start building into our routines,” she says.
From a physical standpoint, yoga helps increase flexibility, balance and stability and reduce blood sugar levels.
“Yoga is designed to allow your body to perform at its best,” she says.
It also helps with stress-reduction and anxiety and allows those who practice it to remain still in the midst of chaos, she adds. It releases oxytocin, serotonin and melatonin in the body.
“In a yoga pose, you’re holding it. You have to mentally convince yourself to stay in the pose,” she explains. “What that does is it trains your mind to remain comfortable when the situation around you is uncomfortable. That’s the training that’s so powerful because that’s the exact process we need right now off the mat.”
For those who have a hard time meditating, Fonovich recommends sound healing.
“It’s not about the sound. You’re not looking for a symphony or an orchestra to be playing. These sounds are actually bathing over you,” she explains. “The power of sound healing is that the vibration from these instruments basically penetrates the body because it’s made up predominantly of water. It pushes out all the toxins that we have stuck or stored inside.”
Fonovich has collected instruments from around the world to aid in her sound healing sessions – gongs from Germany, sound wings and sitars from India and chimes from France.
“Growing up, I loved music, but my parents were like, ‘You’ll never make any money in music,’” she says. “I kind of pushed that to the side, but years later I found out there was music in yoga. I could combine my two favorite things.”
Yoga, meditation and all aspects of holistic health are a great way to empower your own well-being, she says. And the best part?
“It’s free. It is the best form of mental health care we have available to us,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what socioeconomic status you’re in, everybody has access to meditation.”
Fonovich believes that her purpose is to advocate for these practices and make them more accessible.
“I’m the voice behind Nicole Anne Yoga where I go into the businesses and schools and talk about yoga and its benefits, why we need to learn these skills young and how it can help in the workplace by reducing employee sick days and boost company morale. It’s more powerful than it appears,” she says.