Eli grew up in rural Wisconsin and set flight for Manhattan when she received a scholarship to attend New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Graduating with a BFA in Acting (Cum Laude), and training from the Lee Strasberg Institute, Experimental Theatre Wing and Stonestreet Studios, as well as improv training at UCB and storytelling at the Magnet, she tackled the acting industry equipped with skill and confidence. But, it wasn’t long before Eli’s passion and unique talent for using performance as a tool to cultivate awareness of the physical and spiritual body led her to the art of yoga. Yoga inspired her to use movement, breath and meditation to fearlessly work, play and dream in all realms of truth, and inspire others to do the same.
Eli completed her 500 hr. RYT in Manhattan, and received additional training in Iyengar, Reiki, Reflexology and Vipassana meditation in India during a 6-month solo-backpacking trip across the country, prompted by a sudden infatuation and desperate need to understand where “free will” and “divine orchestration” converge. Her spiritual quest ended with a visit to Thailand, where she fell through a roof (long story) and severely injured her back, leaving her immobile for several weeks on the island of Koh Tao.
Upon her return to New York City, her injuries led her to Katonah Yoga, an esoteric practice developed by Nevine Michaan, which combines Hatha, Sacred Geometry and Taoist philosophy that teaches students to explore a relationship to the physical body using imagination to discover one's center through circumference. This practice was a game-changer for Eli, as it helped her not only to heal her body, but also to spiritually come to terms with the phenomena of what it means to be in a human body, which, until then, had been the catalyst for many sleepless nights. The language and practice of Katonah Yoga helped her develop a more powerful and conscious relationship to time and space, her responsibility as an autonomous being to set up the conditions for her own happiness and well-being, and the invisible universal forces that map it all together.
Drawing from all of these experiences, Eli developed techniques to weave together her knack for storytelling and performance with her expanse of yogic knowledge to empower her students and audiences to be the hero of their life's own epic journey, eventually giving birth to Divine Your Story™ in 2017.
In the same year, Eli took her passion for integrating theater and yoga one step further in order to make the art of joy even more accessible to the masses, by creating her internationally acclaimed (albeit subversive) company, Drunk Yoga™.
The story? Drunk Yoga stemmed from a casual conversation at a bar when a friend joked that he needed yoga because he was entirely inflexible. But when he went to demonstrate this, he bent over and touched his toes! “Oh, I guess I can do it when I’m drunk," he said. Laughing, Eli replied, “Let’s do Drunk Yoga!”
It may have felt like a joke in the moment, but the idea simmered. Because Eli’s friend, let’s call him “Joe Bro,” would’ve never considered trying yoga before that conversation, as so much of a typical yoga class comes loaded with expectations for a certain kind of body, background, flexibility, socioeconomic status, perfection and spiritual hypocrisy.
Eli wanted to release the baggage that comes with mainstream yoga and bring it all back to the root: joy. It was time to create a space for yogis and non-yogis alike to experience the pure pleasure of yoga with some laughter, freedom from perfectionism and a little wine thrown in for good measure—or any other communal ritual that brings people together in celebration—like your morning coffee, your birthday party, or an office holiday party…the options are limitless!
Currently, Eli happily divides her time between Manhattan and Bali as she continues to expand Drunk Yoga™ as CEO, and develop Divine Your Story™ by finding new and creative ways to bring the art of cultivating personal joy with yoga and performance through teaching, writing, and public speaking.