Mindful Moment: Heather Umberger, Nia & MELT Instructor

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#MindfulMoment is an opportunity to learn more about the ONE Wellness team and how mindfulness guides their practice.

I’d been aware of mindfulness as a concept for many years from my background in counseling and psychology. I began personally practicing mindfulness in 2012 and sensed its power to transform my life when I started studying the Nia technique. Nia brings us out of our “head” and into the sensations of the body, emotions, mind and spirit. For me, mindfulness means living in the NOW with an awareness of these sensations. When I’m in a mindful state, I have so many opportunities to experience magical moments that would’ve been blocked if I’d closed off or operated on autopilot. Mindfulness means tapping into a realm that is more real, powerful and joyful than living without awareness, gratitude or awe.

I was drawn to the ONE Wellness mission after meeting with ONE founder, Elizabeth, for the first time - her understanding and appreciation of mindfulness, mind-body-spirit connection and the many tools to achieve fitness, health and wellness aligned well with my own small business. ONE connected us in our deep desire to help others find their inner gifts and strengths, as well as tapping into the unique healing potentials that are ready for the taking. I followed my heart in saying yes to work with ONE Wellness and help bring Elizabeth’s vision to life, while simultaneously working to expand my own small integrative wellness business.

What makes my classes unique?

Nia is not simply a fitness class, but instead a lifestyle practice. There are many principles practiced in class that can be applied outside of the studio as we “dance through life”. When people leave Nia, they are more joyful, centered, and empowered with a positive mindset. They experience a better connection and integration with their body, making it easier to connect with others around them. Participants leave Nia class sweaty, but energized to step into their next activity. One of my goals through Nia is to help participants sense the power in their own amazing uniqueness, and connect more deeply with love, joy and pleasure in their bodies. Here are a few of the ways separating Nia from traditional forms of exercise:

Traditional Exercise
1. Painful
2. Guilt-driven
3. Single/limited movements
4. Stoic
5. Trains large muscle groups
6. Reinforces rigidity
7. Often leads to injury Zumba/CrossFit/repetitive programs
8. Weakens nervous system
9. Creates physical fitness

Nia
1. Pleasurable
2. Desire-driven
3. Fusion fitness
4. Expressive
5. Systemic movement all muscle groups
6. Creates gracefulness
7. Heals injuries/non-repetitive/integrative/mindful
8. Strengthens nervous system and neuroplasticity
9. Creates fitness of the body, mind, emotions and spirit

I also teach MELT, which is a simple self-care technique using soft balls and a soft foam roller supported by leading scientists in the neuro-fascial field. The MELT Method creates immediate results that individuals can feel in their bodies the very first time they practice. It’s different from other foam rolling as it utilizes specific techniques that stimulate our bodies to change our extracellular matrix, and then these effects cascade into the entire body. This method boasts many benefits, such as decreasing pain, improving athletic performance and recovery, decreasing the negative effects of aging and many more. Unlike many physical therapy and personal training approaches, the MELT Method avoids simply rolling over our muscles like ironing a shirt, which can cause pain, create more inflammation in the body and does not address the underlying causes of pain or negative effects of aging.

After MELT classes, people are generally in a state of awe (“OH MY”, "That is amazing”, “WOW”) with the changes they sense in their body in terms of alignment, energy, relaxation and decreased pain! They tend to sleep better that night, have improved digestion and mood as well.