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The Healing Cocoon Podcast

Divine Orchestration Versus Free Will with Drunk Yoga Founder Eli Walker

Where happy hour and mindful movement mingle


Posted by:
Jacobie Gray

In this episode of the podcast, we interview Eli Walker, founder of Drunk Yoga®. After earning her BFA in Acting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Art and nearly a decade of experience training and teaching yoga across the globe, Eli developed a knack for making the wellness experience interactive and fun. In 2017, she wove together her lifelong passions of storytelling and mindful movement to establish her first claim to fame: Drunk Yoga®—“intoxicating” the traditional yogic convention by infusing it with the social ritual of a happy hour. Her passion is to teach leaders how to create authentic communities, cultivate deeper connections, and inspire belonging…and rewrite some rules along the way.

Spill the Tea

Leading up to the success of her now internationally-acclaimed business, Drunk Yoga®, Eli journeyed through health issues, overworking, and traumatic relationships. Her journey to healing came in waves, but some specific pinpoints stick out in her mind. 

One such time was in college, when she got very sick and was hospitalized from what was ultimately attributed to overworking. Eli is a goer and a producer. At only 19, she had been working a day job and a night job, averaging about three hours of sleep per night. She struggled to get well, often seeing more setbacks than progress with the use of traditional medicines. 

Then one day, a kind professor asked her if she had heard of white tea. He went out of his way to deliver some to her dorm. Learning about the properties of white tea—high in antioxidants and low in caffeine—it was like a tiny catalyst to a wellness journey she didn’t know existed. Slowly, she started to feel better, incorporating yoga, better food and tea, into her regimine. Sleep was still evasive, but her trajectory was at least upwards now.

Eli vs. India

Cut to five years later and wanting to swap a bad relationship for an adventure and self-exploration, Eli took her backpack and her burnout on a one-way flight to India. 

India was intentional. It was where she wanted to learn about herself and about intuition and how to let it be her guide. Her purpose in coming to India was the spiritual journey of self-healing. And she did that, soaking in all the rich spiritual culture India had to offer, like Reiki training and astrology. But at some point her questions outnumbered her answers and she needed a break. Cue, Thailand.

Thailand vs. Eli

Eli’s purpose in Thailand fell on the opposite end of the spectrum. This time, she was not there for self-reflection and growth. She wanted to scuba dive, drink beer, and have some fun.

And scuba dive, she did, which unexpectedly led to a friendship with the family of her scuba diving instructor because she accidentally fell through their roof! Like, a 12-feet-onto-concrete kind of fall which left her house bound, in their house. She was seriously injured, cracked ribs and a torn shoulder, and had to push back her plan to fly home by two months. On this forced extension in Thailand, unable to do much but patiently recover, she found herself back in a place of spiritual curiosity, pondering the questions she thought she had left behind in India. 

Not mutually exclusive

Eli was having a hard time reconciling the tension between divine orchestration and free will, a concept she’d wrestled with for years, and didn’t feel like she could go back to NYC until she understood how much control she had over her own life experience. Her questions built on themselves, “If everything is left to divine order, then what am I doing anything for if it doesn’t matter? What’s the point? But free will feels like too much pressure…what do I know?” She was having an existential crisis in Thailand. 

At a juice bar one day she shared her dilemma with a fellow, turning out to be a scientist, who offered her a perspective on her struggle with free will and divine order. He said, “Divine order and free will exist at the same time, but also they both don’t exist because they are constructs of the mind.” She said at that moment she got it. She realized there was nothing to figure out. It was a truth that finally embodied itself in her and since then she has been on a much more joyful, lighter track. She feels free to explore all things otherworldly, mindfulness and wellness, introspection, and her relationship to the universe, at peace knowing that both facets exist at the same time and the intersection is in our observation of it. We are the narrators.

Learn more about Eli at and find her on social media at @eliwalkerstories and @drunkyoga.

For the full interview with Eli, listen via the link on this page,, or find us on Instagram @thehealingcocoonpodcast.