HIAWATHA — “Living the life you love, naturally” is both the tagline for Dusty Swehla’s new business, Panda Marie, and a reflection, she said, of her own life’s journey.
“I’m very transparent about my story,’ Swehla said.
Four and a half years ago, while working as a certified nutritionist and health coach in a medical practice, Swehla entered treatment for alcohol addiction.
“I was living two different lives,” she said. “At work, I was known for my work as a nutritionist who was also like a therapist, who helped others make healthy life choices.
“But at home, my drinking problem was taking a toll on my family.”
During her treatment, which involved outpatient therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Swehla discovered different holistic therapies, including yoga and meditation, that aided her recovery.
“It’s literally like a miracle that I don’t want to drink,” she said. “I’ve been sober ever since, and life is really, really good.”
With Panda Marie, which Swehla opened in Hiawatha in November, she is bringing the alternative healing modalities that were so helpful to her to help others with their own life challenges.
Panda Marie, which is the name Swehla’s parents almost gave her when she was born, offers a variety of holistic services, including yoga, reiki, craniosacral therapy, aromatherapy and acupressure, to help people live free of the effects of alcohol and other dependencies, chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia and other life-limiting concerns.
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Swehla is one of two certified practitioners in the state offering Yoga and the 12 Steps of Recovery, or Y12SR — a practice that combines the somatic approach of yoga and the cognitive approach of a 12-step program.
She holds weekly group gatherings at Panda Marie that are open to those seeking help with any addiction.
“Everyone is here because they truly want help,” she said. “I start by reading from an AA book, and people can choose to talk or not. Following the discussion, we have a half-hour to 45-minute yoga practice, which gives time for the information to seep in and be processed.”
In addition to Y12SR, Swehla teaches a variety of group yoga classes and carries a small inventory of retail items, including teas, essential oils, CBD oil and yoga apparel.
In addition, she donates her time weekly to Area Substance Abuse Counsel’s youth residential program for teenagers with substance abuse issues.
“Everyone wants to feel better and live a good life,” she said. “My calling on this earth is to help people feel better.”
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At a Glance
l Owner: Dusty Swehla
l Business: Panda Marie
l Address: 1200 N. Center Point Rd., Unit D, Hiawatha
l Phone: (319) 651-7984
l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
l Website: NaturallyFeelingBetter.com