The Model Yogini

Beliefnet catches up with Christy Turlington.

BY: Interview by Anne Simpkinson

Christy Turlington

Those on whom the hot klieg lights of celebrity fall longer than Warhol's 15 minutes often burn out in scandalous or embarrassing ways. Not so for 32-year-old Christy Turlington, whose transition from international supermodel--working and partying with the likes of Naomi Campbell, Elle McPherson, Linda Evangelista, and Claudia Schiffer--to businesswoman and anti-smoking advocate is earning high praise from the press. As "W" wrote, she has "put the fabulousness of modeling behind her with grace, power, and intelligence."

Turlington, who began her modeling career at 13 and gave up the catwalk 11 years later in 1994, credits much of her centeredness to her yoga practice. The ancient spiritual practice, she says, not only nourishes her personally but has also opened up business opportunities. In the past two years, she launched Sundari (which means "beautiful woman" in Hindi), a natural skin-care line based on Ayurvedic principles, and created, in partnership with Puma, a line of "contemplative sport/lifestyle wear." She is also currently writing a book on yoga as a lifestyle.

Turlington spoke with Beliefnet about growing up Catholic, taking up yoga, attending New York University at 29 to earn a BA in comparative religions and philosophy, and working to educate young men and women about the dangers of smoking.

Growing up Catholic Discovering Yoga Selling Ayurveda Battling Cigarette Addiction
Returning to religious roots

Growing Up Catholic

When did you first become interested in spiritual matters?

I think I've always been interested in spiritual things. As a child, the conversations that I liked to have with my friends--or with anyone, for that matter--were always about religion. Other people's interpretations of where they would go after they died, what their real values were, or what the principles they believed in were, always fascinated me--you know, the big questions.

Did you have a strong religious background or upbringing?

I grew up Catholic. My mother is from El Salvador, so my family on her side is Roman Catholic. My father is Protestant, and while he was spiritual, he wasn't much of a churchgoing person. I think it's fairly common for families to be brought up in the mother's religion. We were all--my sisters and I--baptized Catholic, went to catechism classes, received Communion, and went to church fairly regularly until we were 12-ish.

When I lived in Miami, a lot of my friends were either Jewish or Baptist. I would often accompany them to temple or to church. The more I saw, the more fascinated I became. I always looked to the common threads among belief systems rather than to the things that separated them.

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