We had the good fortune of connecting with Kimberly Farris and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kimberly, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I started my yoga practice back in the early 2000’s during graduate school. I wanted to find an alternative to working out in the gym and a friend recommended hot yoga. I was the only person of color in the room among the other students and the teacher for almost all classes. Finding a welcoming and diverse yoga studio was extremely rare. There were many times that I felt invisible with very little interaction from anyone, but I continued because I experienced physical and mental health benefits from the practice. Having lived in many states and seeking out yoga studios, I found the same to be true regarding the demographics of the classes as well as establishing a connection with teachers or students. I’d say I started seeing more people of color over the last 5-6 years. I came to understand just how important representation mattered. There is such a difference in energy when we look around and see ourselves teaching and practicing.
Recognizing what my yoga practice has done for me, I knew it was something that I wanted to share with other people that looked like me, specifically women of color. I have a public health/science background, working in chronic disease prevention, specifically diabetes prevention, management, and education. Studies show that Black/African Americans, Latino/Hispanics, and other minority groups are at greater risk for many of the chronic conditions.
Additionally, over the years, I’ve studied the impact of stress, racism, and discrimination on women, specifically Black women over the course of their lives, starting from a very young age through adulthood. The impact over time is almost insurmountable. As a Black woman, many hats are worn — caregiver, parent, sibling, working professional, spouse/partner, etc. and many times, we rarely take care of ourselves because we are taking care of everyone else. Also, with the social justice uprisings over the last couple of years, I wanted to provide a safe space, a community where Black women/women of color can come, leave their hats at the door, take off their superhero capes and take some time to care for themselves.
For me, yoga is holistic healing. The practice is a time to use how we want. My goal is to show how the principles and guidelines of yoga, and movement encourage us to live a meaningful and purposeful life. In this space, we can breathe together, move together, and rest together. We must take care of ourselves. My idea, Kymistri Wellness, was created out of my own life experience and has given me a powerful testimony to share and to remind and encourage women like me that putting yourself first is not selfish.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
By day, I’m a Health Scientist and I’ve been in the field for over 20 years. I oversee research and evaluation activities to determine the outcomes of agencies and organizations providing diabetes management, prevention, and education services through National-, State- and community-based organizations. My professional path is full of twists and turns. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, a Master of Social Work degree, a Master of Public Health degree, and a PhD in Social Work. By day, I’m a Health Scientist and I’ve been in the field for over 20 years. I oversee research and evaluation activities to determine the outcomes of agencies and organizations providing diabetes management, prevention, and education services through National-, State- and community-based organizations.
I’ve seen years of scientific research that shows how people of color are more susceptible to chronic conditions like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. When combined with years of racism, discrimination, and social injustices, quality of life for us is significantly affected. My interests also always included considering the role of holistic approaches as a part of traditional services. Yoga improves overall well-being, is widely practiced for health and relaxation, while also providing strength building benefits. Yoga supports both mental and physical endurance for people at any age and physical ability level.
During the early days of the pandemic lockdown, I incorporated meditation into my daily activities as well as my yoga practice. At the time, no one knew how long we’d be there. Once things started opening back up again, I made up my mind that I wouldn’t delay any personal or professional life goals and enrolled in yoga teacher training last April 2021, completing it in July 2021. I’ve been teaching ever since in a studio, as well as private and semi-private sessions, my own group classes, and team retreats.
As part of our teacher training, we were asked to present who we wanted to reach and why. My why goes back to growing up as a woman of color, which comes with a set of challenges that often gets carried into adulthood. What the world is witnessing today through the power of smartphones and social media: microaggressions, gaslighting behaviors, racially motivated crimes, is an almost everyday occurrence for countless people, especially women like me. This type of intense chronic stress emotionally, physically, and mentally impacts and affects almost every aspect of our lives.
I created Kymistri Wellness for women of color to have a space to feel seen, heard, and supported; to release all the things that weigh us down: the feelings, the burdens, and the stress so we can be our authentic selves. So many of us have unknowingly placed ourselves in the hustle culture and are literally working ourselves to death with very little reward.
Yoga gives us a way to actively push back and stand up to the institutions that require us to be on all the time and emphatically say no. We must rest not only to let our bodies rest but also our mind and our spirit. This requires the opportunity to recharge on our own terms. No is a complete sentence. One that liberates and frees us from society’s expectations. With all that we give, we deserve joy, peace, self-love, and rest. Kymistri Wellness is a community of empowerment created to provide beautiful opportunities for connection and healing. Kymistri Wellness is my way of giving back to my community. There’s no better feeling than to see women like me rest, recharge, and discover or rediscover their power.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Places to Eat/Drink: Eclipse di Luna (Dunwoody), Pure Taqueria (Inman Park), Six Feet Under (Midtown), Slutty Vegan, Nina & Rafi
Hang out: Kat’s Cafe (Midtown), Basement at The PoBoy Shop (Decatur/Emory), The Beverly, The Battery
Places to visit: Botanical Garden, Ponce City Market, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Georgia Aquarium, High Museum of Art
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My biggest supporter is my mom who has always encouraged me to live out my calling and dreams. I’d also like to send a shoutout to my best friend, Dr. Kai Stewart, for the continuous encouragement and support, serving as a cheerleader throughout this journey from just an idea to now, a growing community.
I also have a community of friends that are always ready to support, from taking part in promotional and testimonial videos, to showing up at pop-up events, to taking individual and group classes. Thank you to my tribe: Malikah Berry-Rogers, Dr. Michelle Owens-Gary, Adrianne Butts, Natosha McCrary, Jennifer Murphy Morgan, Monica Murphy, Cagney Morns, Dr. Gia Grants Rutledge, Erin Bernard, Courtney Willis, Dr. JaMuir Robinson, Marva Walker, and Shontel Kealoha. This tribe knew of my idea when it was just a dream. They also encouraged me to keep moving forward,
Finally, I’d also like to thank Joshua Baker and Lori Kirkland of Insight Media House for their dedication to my promotional videos and other media. They were truly invested into bringing my reason, my why to life.
kymistriwellness.setmore.com – To book individual and group yoga and meditation services
Natosha McCrary of Amour De Soul Photography