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Confessions of a Christian Yogi: How I Balance Faith and Career
This topic has been weighing heavily on my heart for the past few months. It’s different from most of my blog posts, as I won’t be offering up any “tips or suggestions” for you. Instead, I’m offering up a look inside what I’ve personally been struggling with: to nurture my Christian faith and value system as a wellness influencer in New York City. As much as I love how this industry promotes healthy living, I’m afraid I’ve been toeing the line into things that are against my core beliefs.
Let me preface that if you are a spiritual person, this post is not by any means meant to shame you. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life or that the things that give you purpose are wrong. What I’m trying to bring to light and come to grips with, is that there are certain spiritual practices that have become so mainstream in this industry. And as a Christian woman, I find myself conflicted to engage in things that the Bible explicitly warns against.
“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” ~ James 1:26
I can’t tell you the number of events I’ve been to where tarot card readings and psychics were present. Or how many times I’ve been asked about my rising sign or if I’ve had my astrology chart read. Many times, I’ve indulged in these conversations. I’ve downloaded apps that tell me the difference between my sun, moon and rising signs. I’ve even let a psychic give me a reading (albeit a 30-second one) in order for me to walk away with a swag bag of branded goodies. I convinced myself that it’s harmless. That I know what my beliefs are grounded in and that it doesn’t mean anything.
But is it really that harmless?
“Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the LORD your God.” ~ Leviticus 19:31
Navigating the Conflict
I’m not actively seeking spiritual guidance from anyone other than Jesus, but I wonder how many of you knew this about me? There’s an image that wellness bloggers, especially bloggers who do yoga, have on Instagram and it tends to veer on the more “woo woo” side of things. You may have seen the crystals on my desk (which I personally think are nothing more than pretty rocks), or have read my posts on meditation and thought I was on a journey to find my “higher self.” In reality, that couldn’t be further from who I really am.
I’ll admit, I struggle to bring up my religious background whenever I’m in a setting where people are openly talking about spirituality. I don’t ever want to come across as judgmental or close-minded, but sometimes the deeper I go into the wellness world the more I feel as if I have to keep my religion to myself. I’ve even caught myself typing out “the Universe” instead of “God” in some of my Instagram posts in fear that the latter wouldn’t be inclusive enough for the 20,000 people who follow me. I’ve always ended up typing out “God,” but the fact that I even had a moment of questioning it scares me.
Whenever I find a friend who is religious, they almost always preface to me that they “aren’t super religious.” As if being super religious is a bad thing and that I may think they’re a crazy person. Isn’t is sad that religion has fallen so out of favor with our generation that some of us feel the need to hide or belittle the importance it plays in our lives?
Finding Peace in Integrity
Last night, after having a very real conversation with a friend of mine who is Jewish, I finally hit a breaking point. It was the first time in a long time that I really questioned the image I’m portraying to people. I want to live a life that glorifies God openly, not keeps Him within the privacy of my own home. Now, I’m not saying that I have hidden my Christian faith. If you’ve been following me for a while you probably already know this is my belief system. I’ve posted Bible verses and have talked about the impact God has had on my life, but it’s not at the forefront of what I do. I’m certainly not perfect and this is something I’m still learning to balance. I want to continue walking on the right path and know that I have even more of a responsibility as an “influencer” to portray the right kind of values that He would want me to.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” ~ Galatians 5:22-23
Choosing not to conform is tough. It would probably be easier to engage in many of these trends and share it with you all on Instagram. But I know that as a Christian we’re supposed to live a life heavily influenced by Christ, not by the world. So here I am, trying daily to find the balance between self-love and love for my Savior.
As someone who practices yoga and meditation, it means I have to keep my intentions in check. I know God looks at my heart but I also know there’s a responsibility to align my actions with beliefs. There was a brief moment where I thought I would be pursuing meditation teacher training, but after finding out each training was heavily rooted in Buddhism and Hinduism I took a step back. Although that may work for others (and even other Christians!) there was something about it that just didn’t sit right with me. And that’s okay.
I’ve found what has helped me navigate these wellness and spiritual trends is to ask myself if it aligns with what I truly believe in. This applies to the brands I choose to partner with, what I decide to post and what activities I partake in. Every time I post, I try to ask myself what He would think of it. Am I doing it for the “likes”? Or is it to reach and inspire even one individual who may need it most? If you’re an influencer or professional in the wellness industry, I’d love to know—is this something you struggle with as well?
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for listening to me pour my heart out. I hope it gives you a more meaningful look into who I am and the foundation of my journey. And if you’re also trying to balance your faith and career path, I want you to know that I’m right here with you.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~ Phillipians 4:13
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Reprinted with permission from Headstands and Heels.
Melanie Torres is a Digital Strategist turned Wellness Entrepreneur, certified yoga instructor (RYT 200), dog mama, and content creator based in NYC. Melanie hopes to inspire other young professionals to follow their dreams and cultivate a healthy, balanced lifestyle filled with less stress, more self-love and lots of cute shoes. Send her a note at firstname.lastname@example.org