Written & Photographed by A Wild Dove
We often read about the benefits of yoga to help us destress, find our centers, connect with mindful living. There’s also been a lot of research that supports how helpful it is for children to prevent ADHD, anger and anxiety. But what about pre-teens and teenagers? Those whose hormones are through the roof, those who are at “that age” and discovering themselves at the cross section between childhood and adulthood? Sophie Kos, 16, questioned that too.
A New York native, she started practicing yoga when she was 11 years old to help with anxiety disorders and learning disabilities. “I was taken out of school by my parents to heal from very severe dyslexia and anxiety,” says Sophie. “I was not in a great place and I was barely doing any type of movement at all. I was about to be put on medication but my parents decided to hire a private yoga instructor.” Sophie’s mother and father (designer Jay Kos) hired a woman named Katrina Foy, who Sophie started working with weekly. While she was challenged in the beginning, after a few months her passion for yoga and movement came through. Fast forward five years, and Sophie is a certified full-time instructor. With her parents’ blessing, she dropped out of school and earned her 200 hour certification from Ishtar Yoga and is currently working on her 300 hour certification. She is specializing in helping teens like herself use yoga toward through everyday battles of life. We sat down with this rockstar teenager to talk about her path, her family and how she hopes to help others like herself -
Wow, so you’re 16 and teaching yoga. Amazing.
Can you describe how yoga has helped shaped the path to where you are now?
Over the years I have suffered from a lot of anxiety and learning challenges and was always trying to escape what I felt. But yoga teaches you to focus inward and listen to whatever feelings may be coming up then to create some space between them and then you go from there. I decided to start this teen yoga class because I know that yoga can be very beneficial to teens since it is a time where there is so much stress from school, hormones, and more. It’s so easy to lose your individuality in our very “by the book society” that we so easily get stuck just moving through the motions. So I wanted to create a space where we can really focus inward on what you need and what your intentions are.
So true. And why do you think you resonated so much with yoga? Did you try other things in the past that you enjoyed or didn't enjoy?
I think what really resonated with me was how individualized the yoga practice can be. There is really no right or wrong way to do yoga or what your yoga practice needs to look like or feel like. I have always had a very hard time feeling comfortable in my body and yoga has really helped me with that as well. I have always loved fitness and working out and still do. I have tried almost everything - pilates, barre, cardio classes, running, cycling, boxing. I love a lot of these things as well, as long as I balance them out with yoga.
For me yoga has been something that I can do when I am feeling overly stressed, anxious, down or even if I can’t sleep. I think it has made me less of a nervous person as well. One of the major things is that I feel like it has made me way more in touch with my body and what I’m feeling. I also feel that I listen to pain or symptoms in my body with a lot more respect than I used to. I used to push myself at the gym way past my limit and now when I feel something I know to stop or take a step back.
It’s incredible how self-aware you are, more than most adults! So when you have time, what are some of your favorite things to do besides yoga?
I love to go to other fitness classes at The Circuit of Change and The Class is a recent discovery. I love to take bike rides on the Hudson River with my mom, family dinners when my dad cooks, family walks around the West Village on the weekends...I love fashion, putting on essential oils, playing with my dog.
Family time is so special. Speaking of which, how have your parents played a role through your journey?
My parents have played a huge role in my journey by allowing me to drop out of high school and always supporting the decisions that I make. They helped me get internship and introduced me to people in the fashion/fitness industry to help me get jobs and network. And just always giving me great advice and protecting me. I seriously couldn’t and wouldn’t be in the place I am in without them.
AWW. LOVE THAT! OK NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF. WHAT WOULD YOUR HIP HOP NAME BE?
PERFECT.. AND WHAT'S YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL?
A black panther.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC?
I love a lot of different kind of music but my favorite is Alternative and Rap...some of my favorite artists are Florence and the Machine, Coldplay, Sia, Frank Ocean, Jay Z, Kygo, Regina Spektor, Eminem.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE APP ?
Mind Body - I love working out and trying new classes so it helps me book different workout classes and try new things.
LASTLY, WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE YOGA POSE?
Pigeon pose with a bolster.