You already know that Christy Turlington Burns is a world famous supermodel. But what you may not know is that the mother of two (Grace, 8, and Finn, 5) and yoga enthusiast also directed No Woman, No Cry, a documentary that features the stories of at-risk pregnant women in Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the United States. The film’s success led to the creation of her advocacy organization in early 2010, Every Mother Counts, which is dedicated to increasing education and support for maternal and child health (everymothercounts.org). Here, Turlington Burns talks about her most recent accomplishment (all 26.2 miles of it), the challenges of being a working mom and why headstands help her think.
Q: You’ve been practicing yoga for 25 years. How do you incorporate the practice into your daily life?
A: If I only have five minutes to do a posture, I do a headstand. It literally changes the way you think because it brings so much blood into your brain, and it helps relieve the pressure that is normally on your vital organs. If I’m feeling sluggish, this is the pose that gives me the most energy. I’ve had a steady asana practice of many different kinds of yoga, but I consider my daily practice to be seva, which is a yoga of service.
Q: What are you hoping to accomplish with your advocacy organization, Every Mother Counts?
A: I see our organization as a way to get everyday people involved. The conversation around the topic of maternal and child health has been a very insulated community conversation for many years. I hope that Every Mother Counts (EMC) will invite and initiate a more public dialogue to help resolve these issues.
Q: Your decision to run your first marathon was connected to EMC. Why did you choose to participate?
A: I’ve been an on and off runner for many years and I had “run a marathon” on my bucket list. As my life got busier and I became a mom, I thought, there’s no way that I’ll ever have the time to train, and have a yoga practice, and do all the other things I like to do. But I had an opportunity to run the New York City Marathon for EMC and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to use the race as a way to raise awareness for the organization.
Q: How was training for a marathon different from practicing yoga?
A: It was fun to have a specific event to train for. I haven’t had that kind of objective before, and with such a tight timeline (I trained in about 11 weeks). I was a smoker in my teens and early 20s, so it’s never lost on me how incredible it is to have the capacity to breathe and the physical strength to have that kind of endurance, when my health could have gone in a different direction.