Featured Story, Yoga

Kathryn Budig, yoga star and podcast host, shares some wisdom (and a recipe)

Photo courtesy of Kathryn Budig
You may have seen Kathryn Budig on the cover of Yoga Journal once or four times. Maybe you’ve taken one of her 176 classes available on YogaGlo, or perhaps you’ve read one of her two books, or her work with Women’s Health magazine. You might have even heard her talk yoga, sports and equality in the podcast Free Cookies, co-hosted with her wife Kate Fagan, an ESPN reporter.

Budig is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher who is passionate about cooking delicious healthy meals; loves to write about all things life, yoga, health, wellness and love; enjoys an oat milk latte after a glass of room-temperature water first thing in the morning; and is a refreshingly authentic woman unafraid to forge a new path for herself, especially if it means following her heart.

Budig earned dual degrees in English and drama from the University of Virginia, which is also where her relationship with yoga began. It started out as a workout option, until she discovered Ashtanga, and fell in love with both her teacher and the practice.

Yoga became the highlight of her week. It was her opportunity to play and experiment with what her body was capable of doing. Pushing herself further and further, she transitioned into a vigorous two-and-a-half-hour daily Ashtanga practice with vinyasa on the weekends, and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue theater. Instead of a career in acting, she found herself in the competitive L.A. yoga world.

After completing her 200-hour teacher training through YogaWorks, she continued with her vigorous practice and started filming classes for online content with YogaGlo, teaching workshops all over the world, writing for the wellness website MindBodyGreen, contributing to Yoga Journal and working as a yoga editor for Women’s Health. In 2012 she also published Women’s Health’s Big Book of Yoga.

While exciting, this fast-paced lifestyle and advanced yoga practice started to lead to injuries and burn-out.

In my recent interview with Budig, she confided that she’s working on making some big shifts in her life. Though her yoga practice has changed dramatically over the last decade, the one constant has been her faith in how it helps people. She has never doubted yoga’s ability to heal, to transport her mentally and to help her body and soul feel good.

“I have learned to practice what my body appreciates,” Budig told me.

After a difficult divorce followed by a new love, Budig is willing to let change flow through her life, which includes incorporating more food in her career. You can follow her yogic and culinary exploits on her Instagram, @kathrynbudig, where she shares new and flavorful recipes she’s trying.

Photo courtesy of Kathryn Budig

A Mini Q&A with Kathryn Budig

What advice would you give to a yoga newbie?
You are only a beginner once. Enjoy the wonder and beauty that comes with it!

What advice would you offer a yoga teacher?
Learn as much as you can, keep practicing, try all sorts of styles, allow yourself to be truly authentic to who you are and know what your message is.

What advice do you have for people who are struggling to find the courage to follow their heart/gut?
Look at the big picture and decide what kind of change has to happen. Ask yourself what you are willing to sacrifice in order to be happy or unhappy. Remember that nothing is permanent and that change is likely not going to be easy. You also need to decide what is going to suck more: going through the challenge or staying with things as they are.

Comfort Food

Photo courtesy of Kathryn Budig

Zucchini Lentil Bolognese Lasagna

  • 2 large zucchini, cut into thin ribbons
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 fresno or red chili pepper, minced*
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a bit for drizzling
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 can of organic brown lentils (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk (the white part)
  • 6 oz Kite Hill Ricotta (or regular ricotta)
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Table salt for the zucchini sweating
  • 1 Tablespoon ghee or organic butter (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Layer your zucchini ribbons onto sheets of paper towels. Sprinkle salt on each ribbon and let sit for roughly 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce. The zucchini will start to “sweat.” Blot off the excess moisture, flip them, re-sprinkle salt and repeat the process. This may seem unnecessary, but it will prevent your lasagna from being soggy. Trust me. Zucchini needs its sauna time.

Place your onions into the food processor and blitz it into tiny pieces. Place the onions into a separate bowl, and then repeat the blitzing with your carrots and celery. Warm your olive oil over medium heat in a large, deep sauté pan. Toss in your onions and sprinkle generously with sea salt and a smattering of black pepper. Sauté for five minutes, then add carrots, celery and chili pepper. Sauté for another five to seven minutes.

Add your red wine to the mix and stir well. Let the mixture simmer for roughly three minutes. Mix in tomato paste, coconut milk, and lentils. Taste for additional seasoning (I tend to be generous with the sea salt). Let this pile of goodness cook down for another five to 10 minutes, and then remove from the heat. If it seems too watery, let it simmer a bit longer or kick up the heat. If using ghee or butter, melt and stir into the mix.

Place enough sauce into the base of a square casserole dish to lightly coat the entire base. Cover with one layer of zucchini noodles, placed side-by-side. Crumble a third of your cheese on top of the noodles and add another thin layer of sauce to cover the zucchini. Repeat this two more times (you’ll most likely have three layers of zucchini) and top the final layer of zucchini with sauce and a good drizzle of olive oil and sea salt. Save the ricotta for the top.

Bake covered for 20 minutes and remove the lid for 10 more, or until the zucchini have golden speckles and you’ve got some good bubbling.

Remember this isn’t traditional lasagna, so be dainty when you cut into your pieces and transfer to individual plates. I recommend using a large spatula.

*If you don’t like spicy, you can skip. If you can’t find a good chili pepper, you can always use dried red chili pepper flakes, or a spicy olive oil like Lucini’s Fiery Chili Extra Virgin Olive Oil (in which case, do 1/4 cup regular oil and 1/4 cup spicy).

**If you can’t find Kite Hill Ricotta, and you prefer a dairy-free cheese, blend 1 cup soaked cashews, 1/4 cup veggie broth, 1/4 cup coconut milk, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and a good pinch of sea salt. Adjust your liquids to find a ricotta-like consistency

Elissa Cirignotta is a writer, teacher, world traveler and change-maker. When she’s not teaching or practicing yoga in Des Moines, Portland, Oregon or Sicily, you can find her growing plants, planning trips and writing stories. She founded Happy Mindful People to provide kids, teens, educators and parents with the tools and support they need to inspire healthy personal changes and find more joy in the day to day. For more info visit This article was originally published in YogaIowa magazine in October 2018.


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