Monica: So great to chat with you Kiana! Having started your career in birth work as a doula, you’ve been intimately involved in women’s health for awhile. What first sparked your interest?
Kiana: For as long as I can remember I was interested in holistic wellbeing, intimacy, sex, and women’s health. From being the roommate in college who helped people use a speculum and find their cervixes, to becoming a doula and attending births all through my 20’s – sexual health has always been something I was deeply passionate about.
I think what really put me on this path though was having children of my own, and experiencing first hand the lack of information and support that we are offered on how to heal and support our own bodies through times of change, and how to integrate our sexuality with other aspects of our life – like motherhood.
Monica: I’m so glad you brought that up! Sexuality and motherhood are not mutually exclusive, though society often treats it that way. What were your own experiences like, and how did it drive the work you do now?
Kiana: When I had my first son I was stuck in bed for weeks and couldn’t sit up straight because of the pain from the stitches. I remember thinking to myself how unprepared, even as a doula, I felt for healing during the postpartum period. Because of that experience, I started a company with my sister focused on offering integrative tools that support pelvic health. It was during that time I met my teachers Kimberly Johnson, and later Ellen Heed. Both of them were speaking the language of birth, sex, pleasure, and pelvic health in a way that was holistic, integrative, and hands-on.
I was incredibly inspired and knew it was the work I wanted to do. My clients now come to a session because they want to feel connected to their body because there was a gap in their experience and how they know they want to feel.
The work I do with Foria is exactly this, bringing conversations to the forefront that we all have behind closed doors, so these things can be normalized. Our society’s current model of sexual health is highly medical (i.e. gyno, birth) and doesn’t speak to pleasure. There really hasn’t been an approach in our culture that integrates the two – and the hands-on work I do, and the work with Foria is about approaching these conversations from the full spectrum of sexual wellness that includes the importance of pleasure, intimacy, and connection as an essential part of life.
Monica: Why do you think pleasure is often left out of the women’s health conversation, and how does that tie back into your own health and happiness?
Kiana: A lot of us don’t have a roadmap of how to get there. We didn’t have quality sex education, and we were brought up in a culture that simultaneously sexualizes and shames the female body.
We know we are capable of experiencing deep connection and pleasure with ourselves and a partner – yet there are often obstacles. Sometimes these are physical, like scar tissue and pelvic pain. Sometimes these can be emotional or biochemical. Either way, I’ve come to believe wherever you are in your journey with your body – it is essential to know it, and know it well. To feel an inner authority and learn what it is capable of – both in healing and in its ability to bring deep pleasure and wellbeing.
For myself, health to me is waking up and feeling a sense of vitality and presence. I often feel it in my nervous system; when I feel really good, it is like I have an inner reserve of energy and space for deeply connecting with those I love. I know I am feeling healthy when creativity is flowing freely, I am sleeping well, and I am eating deeply nourishing meals.
Happiness for me is the ability to play, find joy, and continually arc myself towards pleasure – not just sexually. Pleasure and joy are innately connected and using these emotions as a guiding compass – especially when I feel stress or fear – can help me make better decisions about how I spend my time and where I put my attention.
Monica: Self-awareness is definitely a practice that can come in different forms of exploration. How does yours help you stay connected with your mind and body, and help you keep life in perspective?
Kiana: As a single parent who works full time, this is a balance I am very aware of. At times I feel like what I am doing is a superhuman task; at other times, I am able to let go a bit and just trust that I will be able to get to everything I need to get to.
I am very dedicated to strategic and ongoing self-care – making sure I get at least 8 hours of sleep, taking regular Epsom salt baths, trying to keep myself well-fed, keeping a close eye on my stress levels, or calling for support when I need an extra hand.
To be honest, we live in a society that is very focused on productivity, and we’re all trying to keep up with a pace that is unsustainable in the long run. In that sense, I truly try to balance my work week with as much time with friends, play with my kids, time outside and nourish as possible.
Monica: That’s so very true – it’s incredibly important to remember that we’re all human beings, not a human doing. If you had to sum it up, what is at the core of your ‘why’?
Kiana: My purpose – if I could put it into words – feels like something along the lines of “unwinding the domestication of the human spirit, so we can all remember our deep connection to each other and with all things”.
In my work now it looks like helping women and people with vulvas connect to their bodies in a way that is restorative and nurturing for themselves and their relationships. It looks like sharing wisdom about the many cycles we experience in our life including menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause. It looks like a deep inner authority in our lives so that we can make decisions from an embodied, grounded, and wise place.
Monica: Absolutely, it’s that act of sharing that allows us to pass on wisdom through our lived experiences. If there’s one takeaway that you’d like to share to help women thrive in life, what would that be?
Kiana: Do more of what you love. Every day, ask yourself – what is it that I love, what is it that brings me great joy, and then ask yourself what can I do to offer this love and joy as a gift and an act of service to those around me.
Learn more about Foria at: https://www.foriawellness.com/.