Born into a Sikh family, Mindy Tagliente’s spiritual curiosity led her to experiment with new-age practices and eventually become a yoga instructor. But when her friend challenged her to pray, it led to an encounter with Jesus that changed everything
My mum and dad came to England from India. They were very young, so they didn’t really bring their Sikh religious traditions with them. My dad didn’t wear a turban, we ate beef; it was pretty open and liberal growing up. But I struggled with this whole identity thing of: Who am I? I’m not really Sikh, I’m not Indian, but I’m not English either.
I’ve always believed in God. I’ve always been led by inner feelings – the gut, the spirit – whatever people want to call it. But religion and spirituality are very different things. I never felt I needed a religious context to have a relationship with God, so I never really pursued a religion.
I found yoga when I experienced a very bad back injury. It was the only practice that gave me pain relief and a sense of peace. When I decided I wasn’t going to work in the corporate world anymore, I trained as a yoga teacher and set up a yoga business, which continued for 25 years. It was more about the physical for me, but before I came to yoga, I was into meditation, new age, tarot, clairvoyance, the whole thing.
Turning to Jesus
I was at a very low point in my life. Let’s just say that I needed to forgive somebody, and that was very difficult for me because I was a very unforgiving person. A good friend [who was a Christian] said: “What’s happened to you? For the last eight years, you’ve been so different and so upset. You need to pray.” Being very obstinate, I said: “I’ll give Jesus 30 days. That’s it.” I was praying in my own way anyway, so I thought: What’s the difference if I pray to God or get Jesus involved? I went on a 30-day Jesus quest!
As those 30 days went on, miracle after miracle happened. One time, I was running and I said to Jesus: “If you are the Way and I am meant to be following you, show me a sign right now.” A voice in my head said: “Turn to the left.” I turned and there was a church with graffiti on the wall that said: ‘Jesus loves you’. You can’t ignore things like that, can you?
I looked at the picture of Jesus and almost fell to my knees. It was the man I met in my encounter!
Just after the 30 days had ended, I had an encounter with Jesus [in a dream]. At first, I didn’t recognise him because he didn’t look like the pictures we see of Jesus. He was stocky, with dark skin and a bit of an afro, and he was wearing a robe. He opened the door to this beautiful house, which I later realised was a temple. He said to me: “I have many houses and you can come into any of my houses, with or without your children.” We were dancing, having a great time and doing some healing and then my alarm went off. I suddenly woke up. I was absolutely stunned and shaken. I wanted to go back to sleep, to go back to that place. I didn’t want to leave. I started to cry uncontrollably. My husband said: “Are you OK?” I said: “I think I just met Jesus Christ.” And he went: “Oh, OK. I’m off to work now, see you later.”
That day, I was just floating. I wasn’t quite there. My then-business partner, who was an atheist, said: “Are you OK?” I told her: “I met Jesus Christ this morning.” She looked at me and said: “That’s so weird. Just this morning, on an atheist Facebook page, I saw a picture of what Jesus would really have looked like.” I looked at it and almost fell to my knees. It was the man I met in my encounter!
The first person I called was my friend who had challenged me to pray. She said: “I’ve been waiting all these years to meet Jesus, and you just do it in 30 days!” I guess he needed to bash me over the head to get my attention.
Realigning my life
I started doing ministry school and studying the Bible. As I was learning about different religions, I began to struggle with believing in one truth and then doing all this stuff that doesn’t align with it. At one point, Jesus asked me: “Why do you define yourself through yoga?” He didn’t start with: “Don’t do yoga” but, from that question, I started to pivot.
For about a year, I continued to practise yoga moves physically, but in my head, I was saying: Jesus I’m dedicating this to you. I was trying to find a way to balance them both, and it wasn’t really happening. I was saying to myself: I’m just doing a physical movement here. But you’re opening up certain channels – cracks for darkness to come in and for the enemy to work. Why open yourself up to that? Eventually I had to say: “I’m not doing this anymore.”
At the end of my encounter with Jesus, it was clear: I was going to dedicate my whole life to him, come what may. My children and husband joke about this – I was ready to give everything up, them included, to go back there and be with him for eternity! I know the truth because I experienced the truth. And so everything I do, and all my identity, is completely immersed in him.
Mindy Tagliente was speaking to Maria Rodrigues on Premier Christian Radio. Hear more of her story at premier.plus/yoga