The Chin Twins Lift Each Other Up On & Off the Mat
Relationship goals: yogis & sisters Cristen Barker & Kimberly Hise
Kimmy and Crissy have always shared a special connection. Besides the fact that they’re identical twins, the pair have been best friends their whole lives, connecting over a shared love of ballet, then yoga and, later, motherhood. Their bond, just like their epic joint yoga Instagram account, @chintwins, is so solid that even geography can’t mess with it (Crissy lives in New York and Kimmy, Alabama). Eager to know more, we asked them to chat with us about their rock-solid relationship.
You both did ballet when you were growing up. How did you each get into yoga? Did it happen at the same time or did one of you inspire the other?
We grew up dancing in the Mobile Ballet company in Alabama, taking jazz, tap and ballet. After moving to South Florida we were introduced to Bikram yoga. We both fell in love with the practice and continued to explore different styles of yoga for the rest of our teens. We felt at home with the movement and stretching—it was like dancing, but for ourselves, not for an audience. Both bring you into the moment by connecting breath to movement. Yoga continued to be a part of our lives as we went through college and started modeling in Europe. As our lives changed, our practice stayed with us through our marriages and pregnancies. When our youngest children started school we both decided to complete our RYT 200-hour teacher training—one in New York and the other in Alabama.
As identical twins who both did ballet and then yoga, how did you go about finding your own distinct identities?
Our parents raised us without the pressure of being identical and having to share everything, and at the same time they didn’t separate us to make sure we had our own identities. It was natural to always be together and share every childhood memory and friend, but we also felt free to go off and try our own things. We can share experiences and find our own interpretations at the same time. Our journeys with yoga have been side-by-side, but we each have had unique experiences and personal growth along the way.
Did you ever feel jealous of the other’s practice? That they were advancing faster or could achieve a particular pose? If so, how did you overcome it?
Our relationship since birth has been to lift each other up and be there for each other. I remember seeing my sister fall as a toddler and crying right along with her. Her pain is mine and my joy is hers. We’re inspired by each other’s practices—if there is pose that she can do better than me, it just pushes me to try it because I know that if she can do it, I can too. The world is competitive enough. We know that we are always on the same team and that together we are greater than when we are apart. We don’t allow jealousy into our relationship—the small differences that we do have just inspire us to try harder and to consider another view on something. Yoga is such a personal journey, it can never really be compared to what someone else is experiencing. That’s what makes it so universal.
What’s it like running a business and keeping up a joint Instagram when you live in different states?
We both have full, busy lives on opposite ends of the country, running businesses and teaching, but our main priority is raising our families. Our Instagram account @chintwins has been an amazing way to stay connected and to share our journey with each other and so many others. We love managing our account together and taking turns posting. If one of us is busy working or picking up kids from school, the other one fills in. We each have different strengths, and we know each other so well that we know when to step in and when to step back for one another to get the job done. The best part of this social media adventure is planning our photo shoots with Nigel. We get to use our experience in fashion from our modeling days and merge it with yoga and dance. The images we create are a family affair, and we love sharing them with the world.
“The world is competitive enough. We know that we are always on the same team and that together we are greater than when we are apart.”
How has yoga affected your relationship with each other?
Our relationship with yoga parallels our relationship with each other. Our practice has changed and grown with us just like our sisterly connection. From the beginnings of a physical practice to diving deeper into the philosophy of yoga to becoming teachers, our practice has evolved as we have gone through the different stages of life. We were in each other’s weddings and have shared the journey of motherhood. Like a sister, our yoga mats have always been there for us to return to, maybe to sweat and let out stress, play with our children or just sit alone and be still. Practicing and teaching yoga together have given us even more ways to connect as sisters.
What lessons are you taking away from yoga and teaching to your kids?
As a parent the lesson of letting go has been the greatest gift. It’s okay to not be in complete control all the time and to not have all the answers. The act of surrendering to the universe or a greater power is the best gift we can give our children. They are not ours to hold onto forever. We hope to show them what balance looks like by the way we take care of ourselves and by the way we take care of each other and our planet. We hope that our children see our connection to our bodies, minds and sprits and one day understand that all that they need is within themselves.
What’s something that people might be surprised to learn about you two?
Our great grandmother came from China as a young girl and had an arranged marriage in San Francisco. She took a train to Mobile, Alabama with her new husband, and neither of them spoke a word of English. Rose Chin was the first Chinese woman in the state of Alabama and gave birth to the first Chinese baby in the state. Our family stayed in the deep south for four generations, starting and growing a successful laundry business.
Keep up with the sisters on Instagram @chintwins.