Katy Kopnitsky, our incredible Grant Writer and Sponsor Development Manager and dedicated Instructor, shines in our "Meet the TYP Team" blog series. Katy share's how she got involved with TYP, why yoga service is a natural way to practice yoga off the mat, and what mindfulness tools and lessons she incorporates into her daily life.
How long have you been working for TYP?
About two years.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and brought you to work with TYP?
As I was completing my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training I began to seek out additional trainings, partly because I didn’t want my journey of learning to end and partly because I knew I wanted to work outside of yoga studios and I had a sense then that I should probably train more before doing that. I attended a Trauma-Sensitive Yoga for the Criminal Justice System training with Bri, Colleen, and Mike and I had the unmistakable feeling that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am that I found that training. It quite literally changed the course of my life and career. I decided to do whatever I could to support the work they were doing. I began supporting TYP through hosting community classes and a mini-fundraising event, and some time after that had the privilege of joining TYP’s team of instructors.
What do you love the most about your work?
This is really difficult for me because there are so many things I really love about working with TYP! First and foremost, having the privilege to share practices that have improved my quality of life and have helped me reflect on how to be a better community member and citizen is a big one. Another thing that I really value about working with TYP is how supportive the community of staff and teachers are. In a field where vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue are real, it’s so important to have support. I always feel supported in this work at TYP.
What inspired you to become involved in yoga service?
The deeper my commitment to my own practice became, the clearer it became to me that yoga can transform not just lives, but communities and institutions. I started to see the intersection between yoga and justice and I wanted to be a part of that work and those conversations. In Western yoga communities sometimes there’s a tendency to look in and in and in and never look out. If we honor the union within ourselves between mind and body, we should honor the unions we have in our relationships and our communities. To me it seems like one logical way to live my practice off the mat. The pillar of “conscious relationship” that is essential to yoga service appeals to my searching nature. I never want to stop learning. There is so much about the world and other peoples’ experiences in it to open my mind and heart to. That I get to make that my work feels like an unreal gift.
What keeps you coming back to serve?
The realization that I have, typically no less than 1-2 times a day, of “holy sh*t this is my JOB.” It feels like a cliche but it is true: I love what I do. I love that my work is about connection and community. I feel so unbelievably lucky for that.
Before beginning to work in yoga service I worked in a job that I really didn’t like, and I often felt like I was just “getting by” day to day. The fact that I get to work at something that is meaningful to me is something I don’t take lightly. I’m endlessly grateful to do this work.
What do you do for self-care?
I rely really heavily on informal “mini” meditation practices for self-care. I like to do a short breath-awareness meditation before and after every class that I teach, and anytime throughout the day that I think I could use a literal “pause.” Outside of my yoga and meditation practices I greatly enjoy reading, spending time outside when I can, and doting on my two dogs, Beba and Ralph.
What has your yoga practice taught you or what tools do you use regularly in your life?
It’s taught me the invaluable lesson that I have some control and agency over how I feel. I’ve struggled to manage my own mental health and wellbeing in the past, and I still do. And I’m not saying that yoga makes me feel great all the time. But knowing that I can be okay. Holding that in my hands. It has been empowering and impactful for me.
Any inspiration to share?
Thanks to a book club hosted by TYP’s friends at Studio 34, I’m really really loving and getting a lot of inspiration from the book Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation right now. The book really nicely speaks about using contemplative practices to show up as a better community member and citizen, which I think is part of what TYP is all about.
Thank you Katy for sharing your insight and light with us all! We are so grateful for all the hard work you do everyday-writing and winning(!!) grants for our programs, developing sponsorships, and facilitating trauma-sensitive classes!