Author interview: Esther Nagle – Bent Back into Shape


The subject area covered in Esthers book is very close to my heart as my dad was an alcoholic. He did towards the end of his life kick it with the help of my mum and support from the doctor. There is no doubt in my mind that dad had demons, but he, in typical man style would deny this. I adored him, he was my beautiful handsome dad. I didn’t adore his drinking and I did not judge. This is a terrible dis-ease, one which you cannot see, but which you can certainly feel the fallout from. I have certainly come to respect alcohol and admire those like Esther who have created something positive from her life lessons.

What inspired you to write this book?

I have wanted to write a book since I was a little girl; I remember making books out of sheets of paper and imagining myself to be an award winning writer, but never did anything about it until now – I never had anything I wanted to share until now!

I realised I had a story, and wisdom, to share when I was able to beat a 20+ year addiction to alcohol through Yoga teacher training. Despite attending yoga classes for years, and thinking myself very ‘good’ because of it, I was often going home from class and opening a bottle of wine, and it was certainly not helping my fragile and turbulent mental state. After a breakdown in 2013 I decided to study to be a Yoga teacher, when I learned of the many depths to Yoga that were utterly unknown to me prior to that. I realised that Yoga offers many powerful tools to aid recovery that go way beyond asana (postures) and meditation. Yoga helps us to be the very best person we can be, touching all aspects of our lives, and I wanted to share what I had learned with the world. It is my hope that this book, and any further work I do, will help people all over the world to beat their own addictions, find their happiness and joy, and live the wonderful lives that they truly deserve.

What is the title of your latest book?

Bent Back into Shape: Beating Addiction Through Yoga

How did you come up with the title?

I am sad to say that I didn’t, it was suggested to me by Hazel Cushion of Octavo Books, who originally published the book on Kindle. Hazel suggested the first part, which I immediately fell in love with, and I added the subtitle.

What is it about?

It tells the story of my addiction and recovery, and how Yoga helped me so much. I get deep and personal in the book (although not as deep and personal as the first draft was, there was a LOT of musings that I realised were for my eyes only, but essential for me to write them!). As well as telling my story, the book offers insights and practical tips to the reader to help them with their journey through life. I teach about the eight limbs of Yoga, and many concepts and practices which can be hugely beneficial for all, but very useful to anyone attempting to beat an addiction.

How did you come up with the idea?

The book evolved organically over time as I meandered through different ideas of what I wanted it to be. At first it was going to be just my story, but I got uncomfortable with that and wanted to offer people more. For a little while I was sure that I wanted to write a book that brought modern scientific knowledge with ancient wisdom, but realised that what I as actually fantasising about there was a PHd thesis! One day, perhaps, but not now! The book in its current incarnation came about almost on its own, I don’t remember having much of a plan other than I wanted to write a book that helped people understand how yoga can fight addiction.

Who would you love to read it – what kind of people and why?

People who are looking for hope that their lives can be better than it is. My story is about addiction, but it is also about how we can get out of our own way, stop believing our own bullshit and create the life we want to have. The Yoga system I teach about was not designed 1000s of years ago for addiction recovery, it was designed for spiritual growth, we all need that, addiction recovery is a happy side effect of spiritual growth. The book is helpful for anyone at the start of addiction recovery, but I have also had fantastic testimonials from people who aren’t addicts but found my story, and the yoga that I share, inspirational and motivating.

What were (or are) the challenges in bringing it to life?

I wrote the bulk of it in a week! I had been given the challenge to get the book ready to launch on kindle at the Women Economic Forum in New Delhi in May 2016. I had about 18000 words, 4 weeks and an editor who promised me she would do everything in her power to help me. So I had about a week to get that 18000 words (most of which I discovered were powerfully healing for me, but not even remotely publishable, and needed to be scrapped!) into a decent format. About half way through the week I emailed Lisa to tell her that I was really struggling, she took what I had written so far, told me to go for a walk in the sun, and sent me a wonderfully encouraging message that reassured me that I was not actually writing the worst book the world has ever seen.

I managed to get it together and it was published on May 15th, the first day of the conference, when I gave my first talk, about addiction recovery! Since then I have rewritten some of it and taken it back from the publisher and am currently discovering the many ups and downs of self publishing, ready to relaunch, and to release in paperback, on October 12, my two year sober anniversary.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your this book?

I think I could probably write this book differently every week if I allowed myself to, I am not the same person I was when I wrote, or even when I rewrote it, there could always be new insights and new things I want to share. But I am not going to do that, it could never end! I am going to start thinking about my next book soon instead!

What was the best part of bringing your book to life?

The part that people seem to like most are when I am at my most raw and open about myself, my failings and my journey. I think we can identify with someone who honestly holds themselves and their mistakes, and the lessons they learned, up for us to share, we will not identify with all their story, but there will usually be elements that we can think, oh yes, I get that. I am glad I didn’t just write a yoga book. While there is obviously a place for these, and I will probably write one in the future, I enjoy sharing my story and knowing that I can inspire others to see that they can improve their lives

What did you learn from writing your book?

I learned that I can achieve anything when I put my mind to it, a lesson I wish I could remember when the imposter syndrome and the ‘you can’t do THAT’ gremlins strike!

I also learned that I do have a message that needs to be shared and it is important to share it with confidence and openness

What advice do you have for other writers?

WRITE!! Don’t listen to the inner critic – the inner critic WISHES he or she could write, but can’t so they snipe at you for trying to write! Give your inner critic a really comedy critic voice, give it a name, imagine it in a different room shouting through the door, whatever works for you, and ignore them!

Don’t expect your first draft to be your book, trust me, if you are writing something close to you, you won’t want it to be your book. Use the first draft as a way to organise your thoughts and clear any clutter that might be blockig you (I needed to write all the unpublishable stuff down or the book would not have been about to get out)

Be proud of yourself, Don’t worry about what others might or might not say, you did it, be proud!

What is your inspirational message for the world?

You have all the resources you need in yourself to heal, recover and create an amazing life filled with joy, inner peace and contentment. Yoga can help you achieve this

What else have you done with your book? (e.g. Turned it into a course)

Nothing yet, but book number two is going to be a 12 week programme that I am going to run live as well, this will be based on many of the ideas raised in the book (the first run of the course, and the one that I will be using as the basis for the book, will be launching in November. I will be writing the book along side the course, using feedback and input from course members to shape both the next iteration of the course, and the book (please contact me if you would like any further information about the course).

What opportunities has your book created for you?

I was a webinar guest on Soberistas, I am going to be teaching a workshop at the Addaction conference in November, and have been a guest on The SHAIR podcast and The Way Out podcast (I love talking, and am always looking for more podcast opportunities! I am currently hoping that Russell Brand will pick me to be a guest on his podcast, so I can discuss yoga, spirituality and addiction recovery with him!

What books have influenced your life the most?

Gosh, that’s hard!

Apart from the Step by Step course I followed for my training, the book that has had the biggest impact on my recently has been Gabor Mate’s “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” This is such a powerful book, it helped me to understand myself so much deeper, to understand what was happening in my when I was in the grip of addiction, and to know why I was able to break free of it. I had many revelations while reading that book, it is littered with notes, and cross references to Yoga!   Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom, is another favourite of mine that I have read recently, it is such a fantastic insight into how to live a good, happy, noble life (and death). When I got to the end I was crying to hard that the muscles in my face hurt, but I couldn’t stop smiling, feeling that I had experienced something so beautiful and profound that my life was never going to be quite the same again!

Thinking back to books of your childhood, what were your favourite books and why?

Narnia was my second home! I loved the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, absolutely adored it. My brother and I used to play Narnia lots, he was Peter, I was Susan (although when I was playing it on my own, I think Peter was more like my “boyfriend”, he was very heroic, I liked that!) I also loved Enid Blyton books, particularly the ones with magic in, and the Grimm fairy tales (I had a beautifully illustrated set of book, that really showed the darkness of the stories, I loved that!)

What book(s) are you reading now?

Abundance Now by Lisa Nicholls. I am not a huge fan of the American ‘motivational speaker’ but there is something I really love about Lisa Nicholls; although she is very polished and has honed what she does to an artform, there is something I can really identify with in her story (I too am a broke single mum!) and I find her really inspirational. Her book is really easy to read but offer much food for thought.

What do you do for fun?

Dance (once I finish this I am going to get up and dance for a few minutes before moving on to my next task!), enjoy the company of my lovely children, family and friends, walk in the hills, read, talk, fantasise about Russell Brand and Robert Downey Jr coming to my next talk J,.

Where can we find out more about you?


Esther Nagle is the author of Bent Back into Shape: Beating Addiction Through Yoga, international public speaker, and teacher. She helps people take control of their life by beating addiction through Yoga. Esther beat her own addiction to alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes through Yoga when she trained to be a teacher, studying the teachings of Swami Gitanada at the Om Studio in Cardiff

Esther is mum to 3 boys, the youngest of whom she unschools. She loves that she is a better role model to them all now and that her youngest doesn’t remember her ever drinking.

Book details

  • Title: Bent Back into Shape: Beating Addiction Through Yoga
  • Series:
  • Author: Esther Nagle
  • Genre: Self-Help / Substance Abuse & Addictions / Alcohol
  • Format: paperback and Kindle
  • Length: 190 pages
  • Publication date: 12 October 2016
  • Publisher:  ME J
  • Regular price: £7.73

What events do you have coming up?

Online launch and two year sober celebration


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