KATYA STEPANOV

Hometown? I was born in Minsk, Belarus and immigrated to NJ with my family when I was very young. Raised in Fair Lawn, NJ and grown in Pittsburgh, PA.

Favorite music artist or band? Very very difficult for me to answer, as I am OBSESSED with music of practically every genre. I have a favorite of the moment because some of the greats deserve a spot of their own on a special "Best of All Time" list (i.e. Billie Holiday, Tribe Called Quest, The Beatles, TuPac). Currently, my favorites are Lucius, Laura Mvula, Lianne La Havas, Oddisee, Deca, Saba, Hiatus Koyote, Allen Stone, Blackalicious, D'Angelo, Sylvan Esso, Lady Lamb the Beekeper, and Allen French...just to name a few.

Dream vacation? If I asked myself what my real DREAM vacation would be, then I dream of taking an entire year out of my life to travel across the world. I would begin by buying an old bus and revamping the interior so that I could live in it and travel across America without renting hotels of any kind. I'd go from National Park to National Park, stopping to interview the residents of different types of towns and cities. I'd write music along the way. Next, I would pack all my belongings in a travel-pack and begin my international travel beginning in the Philippines, and up through Southeast Asia. I would go from South to North, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, ending in Vladivostok, which is a Russian town on the eastern coast, where my great grandmother and great grandfather met (he was building the Trans-Siberian railroad) and I would take that railroad west, so that I could go through Belarus to Eastern Europe through to the Mediterranean, ending in Spain. The final leg of the trip would be a tour of Egypt, and Africa. I'd return from Capetown to NYC, and then plan the next trip.

Favorite post yoga snack? I love a great smoothie after yoga. Ice, nutrients, fruit...yes and more yes.

A quote you love? "The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science."

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." -- Albert Einstein

Personal mantra? I join with you. I open myself to love without expectation. I give love to you without condition. I honor and respect that love and will do everything in my power not to harm it. I will find the strength I need in order to be this loving. I join with myself. I open myself to love without expectation. I give love to myself without condition. I honor and respect my love and will do everything in my power not to harm it. And I will find the strength I need in order to be this loving.

How did you get into yoga? Yoga was the first practice which forced my to confront the noise in my own mind. It was the most beautiful gift from ancient wisdom, which opened the door to my understanding of perspective, choice, kindness and strength. I was first introduced as a warm-up class every single morning when I attended CMU's School of Drama, before we began acting. The teachers there believed that yoga was the best warm up for both the body and the mind. I agreed, and fell in love after the first year. I began practicing while at university, and then decided to deepen my knowledge and attended an intensive 30-day training in Nicaragua. The rest is history and namaste <3

Favorite time of day to get your practice in? I fluctuate between needing an early morning and an evening practice, depending on the level of creative work I need to focus on in the morning hours. Sometimes, I wake and do a full primary Ashtanga sequence if I really need to work out some latent stress or feelings. Other times, all I need is some gentle restorative stretching and the full practice comes in the evening before bed. I believe it's all about listening to your body, so my favorite time of day is whenever my body is yearning for some movement and care!

What's your favorite part of Y7? I love the candle-lit element of Y7. There is something so special about darkness, about quieting the visual sense in order to increase the sensitivity and volume on our inner life and help cultivate stillness and self-focus. There are less distractions and more risks taken. I appreciate the space which the candles create and the intimacy and focus the flames generate in the room.