“Yoga: A Vehicle for Change” – with Kate Kuss

In the second Yoga Week episode, Kate Kuss, a yoga teacher and founder of Soul and Steady, discusses her path to yoga, using yoga to manage change and challenging times, and more.  

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In this episode, Dr. Fox welcomes his former yoga teacher, Kate Kuss, who explains how she got into yoga and became a teacher, what she has learned from the practice, and using yoga to change who we are mentally, physically, and spiritually.  

Kuss explains that yoga “found me at a time when I really needed someone or something to connect to.” She took her first yoga class in her early 20s, but found that she “couldn’t get past the incense, the chanting, the ‘ohm’-ing.” A few years later, she took a Bikram yoga class, but says “at that time in my life, staring at myself sweating profusely with mirrors everywhere was just not the right look.” Later, she took a marketing job. She explains that “I was doing really cool things, but I just hated the work environment,” so she started taking yoga classes during lunch at the corporate gym, which she found helped her relieve anger.  

Once she was invested in yoga, Kuss found herself bringing her in-laws to a yoga class in Baton Rouge, LA. However, she found that the instruction for beginners was lacking, and was upset that this led her in-laws to feel like yoga wasn’t for them. She says “yoga is for everyone, but you need to find the right place, the right teacher, and the right time.” This is what inspired her to become a yoga teacher.  

Teaching Yoga and Training Teachers  

In teaching yoga, Kuss explains that “my hope every time I teach is for my students to walk away feeling embodied, grounded, like they can handle whatever changes and challenges are happening.” She explains that yoga requires both an understanding of the physical requirements and the philosophy. Kuss believes that “what helps a good teacher become a great teacher is when they do their own work to understand their place in the world… it’s not just about learning the sequence [or the] technique…where’s the heart? Where’s the soul?” She tells the teachers she trains that “what should come out of your mouth is your experience.”  

Kuss also has a unique approach to music in her yoga classes. As a “huge fan of classic rock and blues,” she incorporates these genres into her classes, because they “make me come alive.” Kuss explains that music should be “communicating with the body,” and tells new teachers that “if you don’t know the music, don’t play it.”  

Yoga and Change 

Kuss describes yoga as “more than just movement. It’s a journey, an exploration, an experience.” She believes that yoga is a daily practice, a lifestyle, and a philosophy. Kuss also explains that yoga helps practitioners learn how to celebrate challenges and to grow and evolve. She says “when I started practicing yoga, I saw the change in my attitude” regarding her job in particular. She stopped hating her job, but notes that “the job didn’t change. I changed.” Kuss explains that “we get so attached to our labels,” meaning our job titles, relationships, or where we live, “so you don’t see how you could live a different life.” She says that because it is inevitable, yogis celebrate change.