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Christy Turlington and Religion

Christy Turlington was born to a Catholic mother from El Salvador and a Protestant American father in California on January 2, 1989.

In the late '80s and early '90s, Turlington became one of the band of "Supermodels" that included Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista. In a successful career that has spanned more than 20 years, Turlington became one of the few models to appear on over 300 magazine covers.

Today, Turlington has retired from the catwalk, though she still appears regularly in magazines. A highly-regarded professional model and businesswoman, Turlington is married to actor-director Edward Burns, with whom she has a daughter named Grace.

Christy Turlington remains a practicing Catholic, but her primary spritual focus for more than 15 years has been the practice of Yoga.

She has parlayed this interest into several business ventures, including developing an Ayurvedic-based cosmetic line, creating her own yoga clothing line, and working as a Yoga Journal contributing editor.

In 2002, she published Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice, becoming the first major celebrity to write a book about yoga and its meaning in her life.

Beliefs and Practices of Christy Turlington

In a recent interview with Beliefnet.com, Christy Turlington said she has been interested in religion and spirituality for as long as she can remember. She told the website that even as a child, "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."

Turlington and her siblings had a traditional Catholic upbringing in California - she was baptized, she participated in communion, she attended catechism classes. When she moved to Miami, her friends included Jews and Baptists, whom she sometimes accompanied to temple or church. She says this experience of other religions was fascinating to her and "I always looked to the common threads among belief systems rather than to the things that separated them."

Religion continues to fascinate her. At the age of 29, Turlington attended New York University to earn a BA degree in Eastern religion and philosophy.

At the age of 18, Christy Turlington began the practice of Yoga after being impressed by "the discipline and the respect and the quietude" she observed in a Yoga-practicing friend. She began with Kundalini Yoga, but now practices Ashtanga, or "Eight-Limbed" Yoga. She explains Ashtanga as "almost like meditation in motion in that you use Hatha Yoga postures done in a specific sequence." Noting that the word Yoga means "union," Turlington explains that she regards Yoga as "a spiritual practice that has incredible physical benefits... a lifestyle, a way of living that connects me to me."

Turlington remains a practicing Catholic, and does not see her devotion to Yoga as incompatible with Catholicism. She notes that her Catholic priest practices Yoga, and that while Hinduism was the first religion to adopt Yoga, "Yoga transcends Hinduism." She admits that many things are most powerful in their original context, citing religious texts in Sanskrit or Greek as an example. But she says, "I think that some things are so powerful that even when they are filtered, they are still powerful."

Turlington is involved in several charities and volunteer organizations. A former smoker herself, she is best-known for her "Smoking is Ugly" campaign with the U.S. Center for Disease Control, which she founded after her father died of lung cancer. She says the Public Service Announcement that came together was "very much a personal story, a testimonial, and it's very emotional."

She hoped to be able to use her notereity as a model to make a difference, and she says she is extremely gratified to be frequently approached by people who say they quit smoking after seeing her ad.

Christy Turlington also donates money to the American Foundation for El Salvador, an organization for the poor in the small Central American country that was her mother's homeland, and participates in volunteer organizations including Target Breast Cancer and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

More on Christy Turlington

  • The Model Yogini - BeliefNet interview with Christy Turlington
  • Mahanuala - Turlington's yoga wear line
  • Smoking is Ugly - Christy's anti-smoking campaign
  • Gallery of magazine scans