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Thursday, April 12, 2012

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sophie Herbert, Social Activist, Yoga Instructor and Life Coach, Our Coverage Sponsored by Liz Barbatelli's The Laundry at Linens Limited and E. Braun & Co. in Beverly Hills

Sophie Herbert 

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At Whom You Know we embrace all aspects of living your best life and we do it with E. Braun linens laundered in the finest detergent on earth by The Laundry at Linens Limited and we would encourage you to be inspired by Sophie Herbert's visions and life examples for wellness.


Sophie Herbert’s artful life is filled to the brim. Being a social activist is her framework; television/radio/magazine appearances, teaching yoga, life coaching, documentary photography, and, especially, her determination in doing charitable work.

Sophie graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art, where she nurtured her passion for documentary photography. It was also during her time at Cooper Union that she began her disciplined and diverse study of yoga in New York, Paris, Kazakhstan, and India. Sophie spent a significant amount of time in India volunteering and furthering her yogic studies. She’s immensely grateful to still visit and work regularly with the Deenabandhu Children's Home, a small and incredibly well managed orphanage, in Chamarajanagar, Karnataka. In November of 2010, Sophie brought her friends from Yoga Gives Back (YGB) (, a grass-roots nonprofit that helps destitute women and children in India build sustainable lives, to Deenabandhu. YGB eagerly added this orphanage to their project roster and now supports over 10 children and 2 women. Sophie also became one of their global ambassadors.

As the niece and close friend of iconic American businesswoman, Martha Stewart, Sophie has the first-hand understanding of building a success from the ground up. Sophie is grateful to have been a regular contributor to the Martha Stewart Show since 2008 on subjects like yoga, cooking, and social work. (She regularly appeared and worked behind the scenes on the original show as a child and young adult.) Additionally, she writes twice a week for Whole Living Magazine’s blog (blog archive:, occasionally for Yoga City NYC, and appears monthly on SiriusXM’s the Morning Living Show (110). You can study yoga with Sophie at the Park Slope Yoga Center ( in Brooklyn, Sangha House ( in Midtown, or privately. She also teaches yoga and meditation to homeless being rehabilitated into housing as a volunteer with Pathways to Housing in Brooklyn.

In conjunction with teaching and writing about yoga on and off the mat, Sophie is in the midst of becoming a certified life coach through Manhattan’s Open Center. Interested in being coached to take your goals to the next level? Contact Sophie, as she’s currently taking clients for a reduced rate. Find out more at (link to be working soon!). 

As a descendant of famed cellist and composer Victor Herbert, Sophie is a singer/songwriter with two albums under her belt, continuing the prominent family history of music. Her first solo album, Take a Clear Look, was released in 2010 in tandem with the Rory Sylvia Band’s You Can’t Fix Her. The latter was a collaborative project on which Sophie was a lead composer. She’s currently on indefinite hiatus from music to focus on her yogic and life coaching endeavors.

Sophie is deeply grateful to live on a lovely Park Slope street where she can wake up to the sound of birds and be eye-to-eye with tree tops. As she grew up in the woods of Connecticut, nature has always been a grounding force in her life. Remaining close to nature assists Sophie in her goal to provide her clients with tools that help them remember their inherent wholeness and tap into their inner peace and calm at all times, anywhere.  We are thrilled to present Sophie Herbert as our latest Mover and Shaker!  Peachy Deegan interviewed Sophie Herbert for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What was your first charitable endeavor and how did it impact you?
Sophie Herbert: My first charitable endeavor was as an English teacher to Tibetan refugees in Dharmasala, North India in early 2005. I was 20 years old and went to India for 5 weeks on a bit of a whim. This experience re-sparked my understanding of the beautiful and immense ability we, as human beings, have to share and ignited my passion for social work. This also became the first of 9 journeys I’ve since taken to India.

What should most people know about yoga that most do not know or understand?
First, that yoga is far more than an exercise practice contained to a rubber mat. It is a holistic practice that addresses how we interact with our self and the world around us.

How should one distinguish documentary photography from the general field of photography and what do you enjoy photographing the most and why?
Documentary photography seeks to convey a real life story. Like many photographers, I love travel-related documentary photography. One subject I’m passionate about it is documenting positive work and transformation being done in underserved communities. This might be highlighting the selfless work of teachers at a school for poverty stricken blind children in India, or capturing some of the ways a woman in Bangalore’s life has been transformed by receiving micro-financing loans.

How does your Aunt Martha inspire you?
Wow – this is a big question as she inspires me in so many ways. She’s an exceptional human being. Her passion for learning is unbelievable – she really lives beyond her motto that you can learn something new everyday. Her work ethic and zeal for innovating is unparalleled. Likewise, I believe women in my generation have greater opportunities because of people like Martha and her hard-working women contemporaries, who charged through social barriers with strength and vision. Lastly, Martha is a genuine doer. She and other women in my family taught me the importance of charging ahead by taking action and embracing failure when necessary. She also planted the seed for my love of travel. I’m very grateful for this.

How do you inspire your Aunt Martha?
Hmmmm… I think Martha appreciates the fact I’m forging my own path by pursuing my passions. She appreciates and supports my yoga teaching and social work. I’m grateful that she sponsors a child at the Deenabandhu Trust.

We have reviewed New York Polyphony and think they are fantastic; do you musically collaborate with your brother Chris?
We haven’t since we were very young, which is fine by me. As Chris is not only family but also one of my best friends, not collaborating is an even better idea!

We also love Connecticut and Peachy also grew up there; how would you compare and contrast Connecticut and Manhattan and what do you love most about Connecticut and why?
As I love nature, my favorite thing about Connecticut is having access to that. The fact I live near Prospect Park in Brooklyn makes up for some of the longing to be outdoors. I also love that it’s so easy to visit Connecticut from the city. New York is my favorite city in the world. It’s like the world’s largest playground that I miss when I’m away. I love the diversity of people, things to do, eat, learn, and see. It’s an amazing city.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
I’ve been blessed with many great mentors in my life who have helped me not only better value everything I have and am capable of, but also the cumulative power of small positive gestures.
Living in India profoundly sorted my priorities. One of the catalysts for most of the social work I’ve been fortunate to do was meeting a small girl at a Mother Teresa house for physically and mentally handicapped children in a suburb of Mumbai in 2005. Two amazing Danish girls, who I met at a movie theater, brought me to this home for about 20 children.
It was incredibly challenging to accept that many of these children were crippled for life. What made it harder, was the fact that many of their conditions might have been prevented had proper vaccines and medical care been administered. One image will always stick in my mind: one little girl had just one arm—no legs—just one arm. Her smile, however, was one of the most genuine and complete I have ever seen in my life, and her eyes so present they struck my innermost being.
There I was, recently complaining of an upset stomach with so much luck on my side and this child, missing three limbs, didn’t display one ounce of self-pity. That moment truly resonated within me. It left me so full of gratitude for all I have and all I can do, and it made me realize that so little can do so much. To think, for example, I can waive a cup of NYC coffee and instead use that $1.50 to vaccinate a child against polio or tuberculosis. In hindsight, I know that moment was a turning point for me, and I will always feel so indebted to that little girl and to the Danish girls who so kindly brought me to the Mother Teresa House.

What are you proudest of and why?
I’m proud of my teachers/mentors.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I’d like to contribute to more TV shows on subjects like wellbeing and social work. I’d like to share my knowledge of yoga more with children in America. One day, it would be cool to write a book.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
Not many! I don’t think are many in the yoga/life coaching world. It’s honor to do what I do.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
Central Park.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?

What is your favorite drink?
Coffee! I’ll take a fine glass of red wine, too.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
Hanging out with Cindy Adams at a random event for Kazakhstan (where I used to live) and ending up in her column.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Saravana Bhavan is my stomping ground. I also love Blue Hill and Karuma Zushi.

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
Tough question – I recently reread The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Great book.

Who would you like to be for a day and why?
A taxi cab driver. I think it’d be fascinating.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?
A dosa at my favorite South Indian (Saravana Bhavan) restaurant because it would be amusing and quite random.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Rollerblading up and down the West Side Highway

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Walking around!

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?
Kahlil Gibran because he was so brilliant and full of passion. I’d like to know what he was like as a person.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
Again – so many to choose from! Perhaps Cirque du Soleil in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s.

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
I try to honor the power of small positive gestures and share that message as much as possible.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Underrated - the fact that we are all inherently whole.
Overrated – the excessive focus on physical image and gossip.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
New York Notes-I really liked the one on New York Polyphony! It was informative and highlights great stuff.

Have you drank The Peachy Deegan yet and if not, why not?
No! Where do I get one?

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
Feel free to contact me about yoga, social work, or life coaching.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Please feel free to visit

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