Kara Garrod can still remember clearly the first time she ever stepped foot on a yoga mat. Through pregnancies, and while raising kids, even during marathon training — a race that Garrod toed the line for as a marquee way to celebrate her impending 40th birthday — she would somehow always find her way back to that place.
Now, after earning her certification to teach and wayfaring classes all around Greater Cincinnati for a few years, she has a studio to call her own – in her hometown, no less, where there’s deep family roots for serving others.
Kindred Flow Yoga + Wellness opened in mid-April above Half Day Café at the corner of Wyoming Avenue and Springfield Pike. It was a project that came together rather quickly, she said.
Garrod toured the space, formerly built out for offices, in February. Weeks later, renovations were complete, and she was teaching her first class in the renovated 705-square-foot studio.
“I really believe in synchronicity,” Garrod said. “Last fall, when I decided to go with yoga full-time, I didn’t anticipate starting a yoga studio. Then this space just happened. It felt right and it all came together.”
Garrod only considered Wyoming when deciding to open the practice. A third-generation Wyomingite, her grandfather, John Benken Sr., was one of the area’s first EMTs, and her dad, John Benken Jr., served as Wyoming’s fire chief in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.
Garrod, who grew up on West Charlotte Avenue, even attended her first yoga class in 2008 in town at The Edge, which was located on Springfield Pike near LaRosa’s before it shuttered. Shortly after that initial class, she found out she was pregnant with her oldest, but she continued to find her way to the mat before becoming certified a decade later, in 2018.
She has more than 800 teaching hours under her belt; locally, prior to Kindred Flow’s debut, she taught at the Wyoming Fine Arts Center, the YMCA and Beyond the Barre.
“This feels like a really good way to give back to my community,” she said. “When my kids were young, I didn’t have a consistent practice, but I felt more like myself every time I landed on the mat. I felt like I could a better person, a better partner, a better mom.”
Kindred Flow, however, is not a solo effort. Garrod and five other teachers — Lindsey Bonadonna, Lorraine Horine, Jessica Johnson, Katie Lawrence and Tiffany West — offer a variety of classes most days of the week, including mat Pilates, vinyasa flow, and a gentle yoga class.
Classes are tailored for all ages and all abilities.
“What I love most is all the teachers are trained to teach as if there’s a beginner in the room, in order to make the poses very accessible,” Garrod said. “As teachers, we’re all similarly aligned, but we all have different styles and different strengths we can offer.”
Garrod will add select kids yoga camps this summer — including one with a Harry Potter theme — with plans to roll out broader offerings for those younger patrons this fall.
Garrod said the class schedule, too, will ebb and flow based on community need. Kindred Flow could offer anything from happy hour classes, chair yoga, partner classes, prenatal and parent/child classes. More information and a current schedule listing is available at www.facebook.com/kindredflowyoga.
Above all, she wants the space to be welcoming. A place with a truly Wyoming feel.
“We want everyone to feel like family,” she said. “A place where, when you land on your mat, you can give yourself an opportunity to respond instead of react. It was important before Covid, and it’s even more important now. One of my catch phrases, at the end of class I’ll say, ‘You did it. You tended to your needs today so you can better tend to the needs of those around you.’ I truly believe that.”