The concept of yoga is constantly being reimagined, and it’s something to raise a glass to. What was once recognized as a peaceful practice clad with heart-openers and child’s poses, the Ayurvedic custom is, of course, still spiritual at its core, but it’s also deeply rooted in self-empowerment, love, and, thanks to Drunk Yoga founder, performer, and now author, Eli Walker, a little liquid courage. Working sips of merlot into yoga studios has solidified the instructor's famed yogi status, and now, with the release of Eli Walker’s new book, Drunk Yoga, you don’t need to attend class to get your namaste-with-rose on.
Eli Walker first introduced the concept of Drunk Yoga to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 2017. The idea was birthed at a bar called Grey Lady, where Walker’s boss asked her to teach him yoga. “He said, ‘Oh, you’re a yoga teacher now? You should teach me yoga. I can’t even touch my toe,'" Walker tells me in an exclusive interview with Elite Daily. “Well, he then proceeded to touch his toes and said, ‘Oh! I guess I can do it when I’m drunk.’” And thus began Walker’s mission to take the concept of performing yoga poses with a glass of wine in hand, and make it a reality.
“My goal is to teach the art of joy through self-empowerment, and in Drunk Yoga, we learn self-empowerment by empowering others,” Walker tells Elite Daily of her unique practice. “We invite our students to let their hair down and have some fun with friends — and make new ones while they’re at it. It’s all about fun, and creating a space where we can 'lift your spirit(s)' so you can uplift others through inspiring 'yoga drinking games' that I made up.”
Now, Walker is taking Drunk Yoga from the mat and putting it to paper in her debut book Drunk Yoga: 50 Wine & Yoga Poses to Lift Your Spirit(s) to take her voice, and the genius behind her trademarked practice, and share it with the masses. When I ask Walker what made her decide to transcribe her poses to ink on a page, the New York-based yoga teacher said that she was approached by an editor at Skyhorse Publishing who happened to take her class.
“She later found me on Instagram and messaged me, asking me if I’d consider sending them a pitch for the first ever ‘Drunk Yoga book,’” Walker explains. “I jumped on the opportunity and quickly put together everything she needed, and they loved my ideas and offered me the book deal right away.”
As the title suggests, the book is comprised of 50 yoga poses that Walker breaks down with step-by-step instructions and illustrations she describes as “humorous and cheeky.” Each explanation of Walker’s poses also includes a tip or two on how to balance your glass to keep your spirits alive — pun intended. Essentially, Walker’s manifesto is unlike any other how-to-yoga guidebook on the shelf, because not only does it pair the Ayurvedic practice with alcohol, it’s also layered with jokes and stories to really hone in on her overall message: that life on its own is hard enough, but yoga doesn’t have to be.
Walker is absolutely right: Yoga doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to master crow pose the first time you step onto the mat. Hell, you don’t even have to know what crow pose is to be a yogi. Social media has done a fabulous job of glamorizing yoga in general, and what it means to be someone who practices it, but keep in mind that the influencers frozen in headstands and dressed in designer leggings had to work toward that level of strength. As admirable as it may be to have that skill-set, though, yoga is so much more than its poses, and that’s the lesson Walker aspires to teach Drunk Yoga students and readers of all levels alike.
“Yoga is, at its core, a universal practice that teaches the art of cultivating joy through unification — whether that be unification of breath, body, mind, and spirit, or unification of individuals coming together in community to support our collective joy,” Walker tells me. “Drunk Yoga is about primarily the latter, and I hope this book inspires would-be yogis out there to get on a mat and try it, as well as inspire seasoned yogis to not take themselves or the practice too seriously.”
As of right now, Walker’s classes are only held in New York, but the yoga instructor tells me she's working on expanding her outreach to New Jersey and Philadelphia this winter, with plans to move into Los Angeles and Chicago in the summer of 2019. In the meantime, Drunk Yoga is now available for purchase, so you can read up on and master the moves in your own home practice.
If you find that this type of yoga speaks to your spirit(s), there are a few ground rules Walker would like you to keep in mind. For one, it's definitely a good idea to use non-breakable glasses to sip on as you maneuver through your poses. You wouldn’t want your prop to shatter, of course, as it’s obviously dangerous and, not to mention, a serious buzzkill. Walker also points out that it's important to stay hydrated, so for every sip of wine, make sure you’re accommodating with a sip of water, too.
Last but not least, and perhaps above all else, Walker suggests you keep things simple with easy movements like child's pose (aka spreading your knees as wide as the mat, resting your butt on your heels, with your arms outstretched long in front of you and your forehead to the mat), and mountain pose (standing at the top of your mat with your feet parallel, hip-width distance apart, and your wine held to heart center).
“There is so much focus and presence required to balance and breathe when sipping and stretching simultaneously," Walker tells me. "If you are solo-practicing, allow the joy to be born from the mindful exploration of awakening the senses with wine, and connecting to the body through breath and movement. (That is to say, no need to get your sweat on here — keep the poses easy and don’t push yourself. Hashtag self-care!)”