Carlos Pomeda: Yoga History & Philosophy

Expert Interview Series with Carlos Pomeda

WATCH to learn from sought after yoga history and philosophy trainer, Carlos Pomeda. Carlos is on the Absolut Yoga teaching faculty with Michel Besnard’s annual Vinyasa Flow Teacher Training.


So hello and welcome, Lucas Rockwood here, with Absolute Yoga, and welcome to The Art of Teaching Yoga. This is a collection of interviews with some of today’s leading teachers and teacher trainers.

Today I’m joined by yoga history and philosophy teacher, Carlos Pomeda. Carlos, are there?


Yes, I am.


Okay, great. Well thanks so much for joining us. Before we get started today, let me give everyone a little bit of background about you, Carlos. Carlos was born in Madrid in Spain, and he currently resides in Austin, Texas in the U.S. He received formal, traditional training in yoga during almost 18 years as a monk, or a Swami, as it’s called in India, of the Sarasvati order. Nine of those years he spent in India at the Siddha Yoga Ashram, and he was studying and practicing under Swami Mukundananda and Gurumayi Chidvilasananda.

So Carlos combines traditional training with his academic background, which includes two masters degrees: One in Sanskrit from UC Berkley, where he was a teacher, and another one in religious studies from UCC Santa Barbara. So for this reason and because he’s a very lighthearted and inspiring teacher, yoga students are always really excited to study with Carlos.

To learn more about Carlos, you can visit his main website, which is Carlos is also part of Michelle Besnard’s teacher training faculty in Thailand, during this annual 200-hour and 500-hour courses. To learn about the 200-hour course you can visit, or else for the 500-hour program you can visit

Carlos, yoga history and philosophy are two huge subjects of study, and subjects that many of us, including myself, have only a teeny, tiny bit of knowledge about. So I’m really excited to chat with you today and wonder if you’re okay if I just jump right in with some questions.


Absolutely. Let’s go for it.


Okay, great. My first question is very simple, but I think it’s very important since students ask me all the time. In a nutshell, students are always asking me, “Is yoga a religion?” and the follow-up question that they always ask is, “And what if I’m a Christian?” or, “What if I’m Jewish or Muslim or if I come from a Buddhist background?” These are big questions, of course, but on a simple level, I think many people are really just asking is it okay for me to study yoga, even if I’m not Hindu. These are rarely the words people use, but I sort of get the hunch that that’s the real question behind a lot of this. So as a scholar and a teacher of religion, I’d love to hear your input on this issue.


Yeah, it’s a very important issue, and I also get this question a lot and a like to address it, because for many people it creates an unnecessary concern or worry. The short answer is no, it is not a religion. The way most people understand religion, conventional religion is primarily a matter of belief. It’s a belief system. You cannot call yourself a Muslim, for example, if you do not adhere to the Muslim tenants or Christina tenants and so on and so forth.

Yoga however, what is primary is not belief but practice. I often like to use this example that I have friends, for example, I grew up in Spain and so I have many friends who are Catholic, and very often I hear people telling me, “Well, I’m a Catholic but I’m a non-practicing Catholic.” You can say that, but you can’t say I’m a yogi but I’m a non-practicing yogi.




So I think that illustrates the basic difference, is that really the heart of yoga is practice. Yoga is a set of practices that you do to expand your own self-awareness, to come to a sense of who you are, of discovery and so on, and that really is independent of what your belief system is. I think it’s very fair to say that in yoga the belief follows the practice, follows the experience, not the other way around. Whereas in religion, the belief is primary and it’s a priority. So I think that’s really the main thing.

The second part is once you accept the clarity, the distinction between practice or belief system, then there doesn’t have to be a conflict between yoga and a religion. I know many people who are deeply religious, from different religious backgrounds, who still enjoy their yoga practice. My personal take on this is that it’s perfectly compatible to be a Christian and to be a yogi, to be a Jew and be yogi, to be a Muslim and be a yogi or whatever. Again, because there’s no pre-conditions for yoga. Yoga is a path of self-discovery. There’s no dogma involved.


Great, wonderful. I love that comparison you said, where you can’t be a non-practicing yogi. That’s a really great way to put it. My next question has to do with Sanskrit the language. One of my early yoga teachers was a Sanskrit scholar and he was always teaching me that the language itself, grammatically and structurally, is genius by nature. Those were his words anyway. He said that the sounds of the Sanskrit language themselves are all sacred and powerful by nature.

For somebody who has very little knowledge about Sanskrit or somebody who’s just learning about Sanskrit, maybe you can just give us an idea, what’s up with Sanskrit, and more importantly is it valuable and necessary to study yoga history and philosophy, without studying Sanskrit? Meaning, if you’re interested in history and philosophy, is it necessary to learn the Sanskrit to really, really understand something like the Sutras, say?


Right. Well, I think of course if anybody has the inclination and the opportunity to study Sanskrit, it just opens a door for you that wouldn’t otherwise be open, and that is the possibility of reading the text directly. That, just like in any other language, it is not the same to read as a translation than to be able to enjoy the original. If you enjoy say poetry for example, it’s so difficult to translate poetry. Let’s say you take Japanese poetry and translate it into English. There’s no way you can convey the subtlety of the original Japanese, unless you can appreciate it in that language. Same thing if you take the Sufi Poetry of Rumi, for example.

And so there is that aspect to the yoga teachings, that if you’re able to appreciate them in the original you always are going to get a deeper level of subtlety, a deeper level of understanding, there’s no question about it.

Having said that, I think that nowadays there are so many great scholars out there working in different fields of Indian philosophy and yoga tradition and so on, and there are quite a number of really good translations and really good books, secondary sources that one can draw from, without necessarily having to go through the many years of study that Sanskrit requires.

And so I would say to the second part of the question, if you can great, if you don’t, if you’re not able to then don’t sweat it out. It is perfectly possible to investigate the yoga tradition in depth through the many wonderful scholars that are out there nowadays.

Now what I would like to do is also address the first part of your question, which is about Sanskrit and what is special about Sanskrit. The very word itself, Sanskrit, actually means refined, perfected. Something that indicates that this language is different from others. There is some is something about its structure that makes it special. And while there are many aspects of Sanskrit that make it so, I also would just like to just sound a little bit of a note of caution at the other end, that it is also important, in my opinion, not to over romanticize Sanskrit either.

Because sometimes people have this notion that Sanskrit is just a spiritual language that’s only the language of yoga and so on, and I like to remind people that yes it is the language of spirituality and yoga in India, but it is also the language of medicine, it’s the language of architecture, it is the language of the Kama Sutra, it’s the language of theater, it is the language of so many subjects, because it was also a spoken language. In fact it’s still, and many people don’t know this, it’s still one of the official languages of India.

And so it’s not like everything about Sanskrit is extraordinary and different. Sanskrit is also a language, like any other, with swear words and everything else. In my opinion, what makes Sanskrit really unique is that in that tradition, the grammarians really went very, very deep into an understanding of the structure of language.

I’m struck that many of the notions that we became acquainted with about language only in the 20th century in the West, were notions that were very well known about language, already in the early grammarians. I mean, the oldest grammar we have is *** (10:23) is around 5th century BC or thereabouts.

So there’s the tremendous history of investigation of the structure of language. Of course as you know, this is a culture that developed so much subtlety and understanding of consciousness. If you understand language, you understand the structure, you understand the structure of consciousness, that has to be really, the specialty of this tradition.

So because of that, around the Sanskrit language, there developed a very sophisticated understanding of how, through the means of language, of the Sanskrit language, one could actually go back to the very sources. The source of thought, the source of understanding, the source of language itself, which is, of course, the source of our very own consciousness. That’s what makes Sanskrit very unique.

To give you an example, there’s a work on grammar, it’s probably about 5th century or so, where the author was a great grammarian, *** (11:37), was also a great yogi, and he says in the introduction to his grammar, that actually the study of grammar is a means to enlightenment. I remember reading that and thinking, geez, somebody should have told me this when I was in school, because maybe I could be enlightened by now.

But the point he is trying to make is precisely that. If you understand grammar, you understand the structure of language, which is the same thing as understanding the structure of thought, which is, of course, how we conceptualize reality. It’s how we live. It’s our day-to-day life. I think that’s what’s unique about Sanskrit.

Around that very deep understanding of language, there also developed hand-in-hand, an understanding of the power of sound, of the specific sounds of the Sanskrit syllables on our consciousness, on our perception. There’s no question the sound creates a particular experience or particular perception in ourselves. When you listen to music, for example, or when you hear a drill, when you hear different sounds, you experience different affects on your consciousness, on your awareness.

So that’s what makes Sanskrit really unique, that they were able to map how different sounds affect your perception. And on that basis, during the tantric period, there’s a whole field that developed, what is called the Mantra Sastra, or we could say the technology of Mantra, which is a field that puts together these combinations of sounds, such that using those sounds you can bring your awareness to a much deeper level, and eventually to the very source of all sound, which is the very source of all consciousness, that infinite space of pure awareness, of pure being at the core of who we are. That’s what I think is really remarkable, because to my knowledge, I don’t know of any other culture that has developed that degree of sophistication, that degree of understanding of sound, and also that sophisticated technology, if you will, as you find is Mantra, in the practice of Mantra. So it really is a fascinating field of study, and that’s quite unique, in my opinion.


Great. Most yoga teachers get some exposure to sacred texts of yoga. The two big ones are the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, and lots of teachers in class, maybe they’ll recite a verse or two from the Sutras or the Gita, but honestly, at the end of the day, most of us yoga teachers, we don’t really have much of a clue in terms of what’s really happening with these texts.

When I was in India for example, I spent about two months trying to memorize the Sutras with a teacher, who was wonderful, but honestly I walked away not really feeling like anything happened. Clearly, these are powerful texts, these sacred yoga scriptures, but for people like me who come from a very Western background, maybe kind of disconnected to some of this stuff, is there a way for people like me to access these texts and experience some of the power, some of the teachings that we know are there, when maybe the classic way of learning isn’t working?


Right, right. The first thing I would say is that when it comes to something like this, I always say that the scriptures keep you humble. For example, there are many of these texts I have been studying, practicing, working with for 36 years, and still every single time that I read, that I contemplate, that I practice, I’m discovering something new.

So I would tell, first of all, don’t feel bad if you feel, “Oh my God, I don’t know anything,” because the nature of this topic is like that. There’s always a new parameter that opens up for you. There’s always this expansion of your horizons, which is one of the things I love about being able to study and contemplate and practice from these texts of yoga. You always have the sense of expansion, of new discovery, of excitement, it’s always there. There’s always something new. So I don’t think that personally, speaking for myself, that one can say, well I know this, just because I worked with it for so many years.

So in other words, wherever you are in your study process, there’s always going to be something new to discover. If you accept that, then you can be content at whatever level you are, because wherever you are, that’s exactly what is appropriate for you.

And so I think first of all, if one takes up this attitude, then it’s just a matter of approaching the text in a way that is systematic and that allows you time to digest them. My personal advice is first of all, begin with an overview. In fact, whenever I teach I always like to start with an overview, because I find that at least if you have the big picture, then it is much easier to fit anything else new that comes your way, you know where it fits. You know you have sort of a basic scheme of the development of yoga over time. And also because as you mentioned, the two texts that are most studied so far are the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, and this is a function only of the fact that when Hatha yoga begun to be more popular in the West, we really didn’t know as much in those days. I’m talking about the 60s, the 70s, as we know now about the history and the evolution of the tradition.

So I think this is still a remnant of the early teacher training programs, where the most popular text were those two, but of course now we know so much more and we know that there’s so many other texts. So this is my first advice, is become familiar with the big picture. It doesn’t take long. I mean, I do some courses where we can do an overview in two, three hours, and then with that now you have this frame of reference.

And then my advice is once you have that overview, as you get a sense of what text speaks to you, which text inspires you, what text you want to discover more about, just spend time with it. Of course, like everything else, if you have the opportunity to study with somebody who’s been there, somebody who’s really worked with the text, who has practiced it, because it’s not enough to just know sort of a *** (18:31) theoretic basis, you also have to have the insight that comes from practice. So if you have a chance to study with somebody like that, then that’s a great entry point.

And then after that, take it a little bit at a time. That is my advice. It’s not the type of text that you read in one setting or you read over a week. It’s the type of thing that I would take, say one Sutra, one little aphorism or one verse and contemplate it. Contemplate it, turn it over in your head again and again and again. Allow it to reveal itself to me. If you approach it with humility, a text will always reveal new layers of meaning to you. It’s amazing how that happens. For that, I see it sort of like paying your dues. If you pay your dues, in terms of giving it time, the reward you will get will be tremendous, because you’ll be flooded with these ah-ha moments, with insights, with understanding, with inspiration.

Then in addition to that, you try to put things in practice, whatever meditation method is taught, you practice it. Whatever contemplation is taught, you practice it. As you spend time with the teachings and with the text, it becomes yours in a way that nothing and nobody can take away from you, nothing can remove. To me, that’s when it really starts paying off.

I really believe that it’s not so much — the field of yoga is not so much a matter of learning a lot about philosophy. You don’t need to know that much, but what you need to do is go as deep as you can in whatever you know. I think that’s the main difference. I often speak about how you can expand laterally, in the sense of learning more in this way and that way in this tradition, in that tradition, and that’s fine. But to me, the real progress comes from the vertical expansion, where you actually go deep into something, and all you need is one area, the one phrase, the one sutra, the one verse. If you keep going deeper, deeper, deeper, deeper, you can actually find everything you need to know right there.


Wow, that’s great. That definitely makes it a lot more approachable. Maybe when a new yoga teacher is looking at all these classic yoga texts and getting overwhelmed, I love that advice to just focus in on what excites you and what interests you and see how deep you can go with that.


Right, right.


Well great. My next question continues along with this sort of spiritual paradox that I feel a lot of yoga teachers are in. To set up the question, I’ll just give you a brief story. I have an Irish friend named Liam, and we were in a yoga class together and some senior yoga students were doing some Vedic chants after class and my friend Liam leaned over to me and he whispered, “These guys are all lapsed Catholics, and it’s weird.”

I had never really thought about it before, but he was right. I’m a lapsed Catholic, he was a lapsed Catholic, and at least two-thirds of the room was filled with other Westerners. They weren’t all Catholics, but they were mostly from Judeo Christian background, predominantly. To be honest, we were probably making a mess of the Vedic chants, and I just kind of had this strange moment where I thought to myself, “Is this just spiritual tourism?” and I’d never used that phrase before. It just kind of hit into my head, and I had a weird moment there.

The more I looked deeper, I found that many of the most prominent Western teachers, teaching Eastern religion, originally came from Judeo Christian backgrounds. So a lot of the prominent authors and teachers and professors of Eastern religion, they seem to come from a Judeo Christian background.

So this is a big question, but the question that comes to me from all this is what is this about Eastern spirituality, that all these Western people are getting drawn to, and why are so many Westerners attracted to the East, when so many of them like me, come from an equally rich and religious traditions that we’ve somehow abandoned? I guess the question is, is it the newness, the exoticness? Or is it something else?


Right. I used to wonder about this also, particularly when Hatha Yoga started to become more popular in the West and it started growing and very often it was growing in the context of the fitness movement and so on. I was a little bit sort of looking at it from the side, okay is this is the new fad, the latest fad? How long is this going to last?

But now over the years, I’ve come to see it is not a fad, it is not spiritual tourism, it is not something transient. The more I travel the world, like I’m sure also you had the same experience, meeting people from different cultures, yoga is now a worldwide phenomenon, it’s not an Eastern thing anymore, and as you meet people from different backgrounds and you talk to them and you get to know them, you realize these are very serious people, serious in the sense that they are very committed to the practice. It’s not just some quick flash in the pan of something new and they move on. No, you have people who are sticking to the yoga practice year after year after year, because it fills their life with meaning, among other things. It’s not only the immediate benefits of your asanas or your pranayama or your meditation, but it’s more than that. It’s the sense of connectedness with a deeper dimension of life.

And so I think the answer to that part of the question, whether it is a new phenomenon, I think by now it is very clear that it is not, and in fact yoga is here to stay everywhere, all over the world you see the same thing.

At the same time, I think that because of course the country of origin of the yoga tradition is India, as yoga begins to travel in the West, the predominant ideologies are the middle Eastern ideology, of Christianity, of Islam, of Judaism, and so therefore it is really not an accident then that so many people who get attracted to the yoga tradition comes from those backgrounds, because that’s where the people were coming from.

But if you look for example now, let’s say if you look at mainland China, Shanghai for example, where Hatha yoga is becoming so popular, those people come from an entirely different background. If you look at Africa for example, where in some countries also you see this movement, Hatha Yoga becoming so popular, again, people come from all sorts of different backgrounds there. You have mixed ethnicities and so on.

So I don’t think we can now attribute the attraction of yoga only to some sort of lapsed Catholic or something like that, although I have to say for many of us, there’s no question that if we went searching somewhere else, for example I was raised a Catholic, if I went searching somewhere else it was because, number one, when I was a teenager and I started questioning and thinking for myself, the theology itself that I was being taught, it just didn’t pan out intellectually. It didn’t pass the test of my own logic, my own common sense. And so that led me to search alternative ways of understanding life and understanding the purpose of what am I doing here and so on and so forth, and that’s how I came across Indian philosophy and I started finding something that intellectually, first of all, was very satisfying to me.

But deeper than that, I think there’s something that’s universal, and it’s that every human being, whether you are religious or not, every human being has this deeply seeded need for spirituality. It’s the sense that there’s something we have forgotten, even if we are not aware of what it is, but there’s something else, there’s something bigger to life, that there’s something larger than our day-to-day experience, that there’s something there beyond the surface of reality. For many people, it is the search for spirituality, pure and simple, that they find fulfilled through yoga. There’s no question that yoga allows you to do that. Yoga gives you a sense of connectedness to the very root of life, the very root of your consciousness, the very root of your being. And what you discover there is a very real sense of connectedness to everything and everybody else.

I’m not talking of ideology anymore or the need to believe in something. I’m talking about experience. That’s what yoga gives you. Yoga gives you a transformation of your perception, where you feel at home in the universe, where you feel connected to everybody else, where you feel connected to life itself, with a capital L. That’s a big pressure.

So whatever your background, I think there is a very deeply rooted need that yoga does fulfill, and of course if people approach yoga just for the physical benefits or whatever, that’s fine, too. But for anybody who has a deeper learning, yoga has so much more to offer. In my opinion, that’s a lot of the reason why yoga is not only growing so fast but also taking deep roots, not just as a superficial phenomenon, a transitory thing, but something that is here to stay.


Great. We kind of touched on this earlier, but I know your interest and your teachings, they reach far beyond the Sutras and the Gita, so without getting into too much detail, can you give some of our students an idea of some of the other yoga texts that you’re excited about and that might excite some other students to do some investigation and some study and some reading?


Oh, absolutely. The main tradition that gets me really inspired is the Tantra, the Tantric tradition. For one thing, I feel that unfortunately, Tantra is still very misunderstood. I mean, most people associate Tantra with sex, which is really a complete mischaracterization of what Tantra is all about, the teaching. What I find is that the Tantric tradition, because it is the most modern in terms of its historical development, is the one that has the most to offer for our contemporary world.

Because the essence of Tantra is that every single aspect of our daily life, every single aspect, there’s no exaggeration here, every single aspect of our daily life contains the potential of accessing a higher consciousness. That’s the premise of Tantra. And that’s where then Tantra really shines. It offers so many different approaches to practice. So you have now meditation in Tantra is not just something you do with your eyes closed formally, in a quiet place, it’s also that but it’s so much more. You have all these techniques for the expansion of consciousness that you can apply in all sorts of situations.

For that reason, I feel that it gives you a much healthier was of relating to life. It’s not like Tantra is a call to sensuality and pleasure seeking and all of that, very often it’s mischaracterized that way, it’s not like that. But on the other hand, Tantra has nothing against enjoying life. In fact, the value of life should be also in finding whatever enjoyment it offers, provided that that enjoyment serves you to become more free inside, to become more expanded inside. Not more dependent on external things.

And so I think Tantra can give us a very healthy way of relating to life, and within that there’s a tradition called Kashmir Shaivism, which is becoming more and more popular all the time, and that’s the area that I practice the most and that’s the area that gives most meaning to my practice and that’s also the area that I’m working on. In fact, I’m just right now putting the final touches on a book that is going to be called The Tantric Yoga of Recognition, which is an example. It’s a text from this tradition, it’s an 11th century text, and it’s so exquisite. In simply 20 aphorisms, it contains a whole philosophy of life and a whole system of practice, unlike anything else you can find anywhere else.

The most amazing thing about it is that it uses processes and faculties that we already use all the time in our life. In other words, anybody can do it. In fact, the author said that he was creating this as a new and easy approach to yoga practice. So that’s one of the things that really, really excites me, because I think this is such a gift for the modern world, that anybody, whatever your situation, whether you are a mom taking care of your kids at home, taking care of your home and so on, whether you are a professional working, whether you are retired, whether you are a student, whatever your situation, whatever your level of expertise, there is something in that text for you.

And so along those lines, there’s also a couple other texts from that tradition that I particularly love very much, which already I have translated and I’m in the process of adding the commentary and practical guidance on how to use them, and I’m planning to be bringing those out little by little.

And those are the main ones, but I have to say, I also love the old classics as well. We were talking earlier about the Yoga Sutra, the Gita, there’s so much there, that even though I love the Tantric philosophy and it’s my favorite really, I also love those older classics as well.


Great, well I definitely look forward to reading some of your new work, for sure. Most yoga teachers that I speak to, they have this sort of dramatic story of transformation. This ah-ha moment in their life, when they make a big shift and start moving in a completely different direction. It’s something that I’m fascinated with and I’m always asking teachers, so I’d love to hear if you had an ah-ha moment like that, where your life kind of shifted direction and sort of were thrown down this yoga path, or perhaps it happened more subtly for you.


Right. It’s very interesting that we were just talking about Tantra, and according to Tantra this is something that it sooner or later happens in everybody’s life, as a result of your evolution. Everybody gets to the point when they are ready for an awakening, an awakening occurs, and sometimes it’s more subtle, like you say, sometimes it’s more dramatic.

In my own case, I think it was sort of like a two-step process, where I had a smaller ah-ha that then led to a really big ah-ha. The first one I remember vividly, when one day I was sitting in my room and all of a sudden there was sort of a slight shift in my awareness. It was almost as if I started now observing myself from a higher place. And at this point, it becomes very clear to me that I am not my body. This may seem very obvious to many people, but to me it wasn’t obvious in those days at all, because I never thought of this. Well of course I am my body, and yet with the shift in my perception I realized I was something else, some essence, inhabiting this body and that I can move this body at will, just as if I’m in a car I can drive the car and take it in any direction I want. But I am not the car; I’m something else. That was the experience I had.

And this was around the same time period that I was telling you earlier that I started questioning and searching, and it was around this time that I remember I saw an advertisement for meditation. And even though I had no idea really what that meant and what it was and how you did it, I felt an inner pull. Literally I remember the thought in my mind, “I have to do this.” It was when I started meditating that the big ah-ha came, because when I received initiation from my guru, the experience that I had was such a sublime one. I mean, it was a very profound experience, and it would take me a very long time to go over all the details. But the gist of it was that I experienced as my attention went deep into my own being, I experienced that my essence is the same essence as yours, as that of everybody else. It’s the same essence as the universe. It’s what we might call universal being. Maybe some other people would call it God, some other people would call it the absolute. Whatever the name you use, it’s pure being, it’s pure awareness.

It felt like diving in an ocean, an infinite ocean which felt as coming back home. I was not thinking at that point, because this is an experience that was way beyond the mind, way deeper than the mind. I had left the mind behind. I was deeper into my own being.

And it was also the understanding, not only is this like coming home, it was also the understanding, without thoughts, but the understanding that this is what all life is. This is what we all are. And how could I have forgotten? It was like, how could I have forgotten? Yes, this is it, because that also is a condition of fullness, it’s a condition of love, it’s a condition of bliss, there’s nothing missing there and there’s no time, there’s no limit. That’s pure being. That’s who you really are.

And of course as I started coming out of this meditation and coming out and again my mind began to move and I became aware of my body and my mind sitting there in meditation, that’s when I realized this is it, this is what I need to establish myself in. This is the purpose of life. This is why we’re all born. To find out who we really are. To go back to this nature, again, that we have forgotten. That was the major ah-ha.

Of course this is the gift that my guru had given me in that initiation, and that’s what turned my life around. After that, I realized that whatever else I do in life, this is my number one purpose, this is my number one task. And it also of course gives me tremendous joy to be able to share it with everybody else who’s interested in the same search.


Wow, well that’s an amazing story. I do have to ask, I know you spent 18 years as a monk or a Swami, as it’s called in India, and to most people like me that’s just so foreign and in some ways, to be honest, it’s a bit scary. So I’m sure the reality is much different, but maybe if you can give us just a taste of what those years were like for you, and maybe perhaps just a couple of the most rewarding things you walked away with. Perhaps the moment you were just described happened during those years, I’m not sure.


No, it was before that. But yeah, actually my experience is that if your lifestyle and your life is whatever is appropriate to your situation, then it is not only not scary, it’s wonderful. So for example, for me now, being a *** (40:20) person is the perfect situation for me in my current moment in my life and in my process of study and practice and evolution.

But at the same time, when I was a monk, I wouldn’t change that for anything either. Those were fantastic years of my life, and if I had to do it all over I would do it exactly the same. My experience of being a monk was that it’s a lifestyle that allows you to dedicate yourself 100% heart and soul, to the pursuit of your practice of your yoga.

Where I found that really a great move, whereas most people tend to think of being a Swami, they tend to think more in terms of the negative, sort of the things you don’t do or you cannot do, you’re not allowed to do. My experience of being a Swami wasn’t like that. My experience of being a Swami was more here I have the opportunity to dedicate every single moment of my life to the pursuit of my interest, of my vital quest.

There are quite a number of things that I’ve taken from those years. I mean, as I look back, every day, really no exaggeration, every single day I look back and I’m grateful. I’m grateful for everything that I have received from my teachers. I’m grateful for having had the community of other amazing human beings, the men and women that were my flow, monks and nuns that I shared my practice with, that’s quite a privilege, to know people like that in your life. You have such purity of dedication and devotion. More than that, also, the opportunity of sharing that same process of discovery, the same practice, with thousands and thousands and thousands of people all over the world, where I felt I was constantly inspired by people. I see that as a gift that I’ve taken from that life, whereas for example they would look at me as a monk and they would be, “Oh, he’s a monk.” I would look at them and I would be in awe of what wonderful people they were, taking care of their family, leading a decent life, and at the same time pursuing their yoga, pursuing their spiritual practice.

And so for me, that was quite a gift, to be able to share my life with such extraordinary people, and that’s the gift that I still feel every single day. One of the reasons why I love what I do, is that it’s so amazingly transforming. To be able to travel from country to country and realize that there’s thousands and thousands of decent, wonderful, amazing human beings out there, that you don’t hear about them on the news but they’re really making a difference in the world. I have to say, it’s given me a lot of faith. It has given me a lot of hope for the future of the planet, that even though we are only bombarded with negative news, there’s so much good out there.


Well great. My last question is, if you could start all over again as a new yoga student, before your time as a monk, before your first ah-ha moment or your formal studies in religion, before traveling and teaching, if you could start all over again is there anything you would do differently?


I thought about this many times, and maybe it’s a lack of imagination on my part but I cannot think of anything that I would do different. I think growing internally is also an organic process. It’s just like the way we grow biological. It’s an organic process. Would I have done anything different to grow biologically? I don’t think so. And similarly, I feel that spiritually, the way everything worked out for me, I came across the tradition of Hatha Yoga, the tradition of meditation, I started practicing on my own, then I had the great fortune of meeting a great, enlightened *** (44:35) who helped me so much in my own practice. I’ve had the fortune of enjoying, as I was telling you earlier, amazing community of people out there and I still feel that I’m in that same process of discovery, of working on the same goals and doing my practices, continuing my study. It all seems very organic to me. So looking back, I wouldn’t do anything differently.


Wow, well great. I want to thank you so much for joining us today, Carlos, and for sharing your insights and your experience. The history and philosophy of yoga is a really intimidating topic for most students and most teachers, to be honest, so it’s really refreshing to have kind of a down-to-earth discussion here, and I know that our students will really appreciate this as well.


Yeah, and I hope, if I can just add a little thing there, I hope people don’t feel intimidated, because very often when we use the word philosophy, it has this sort of dry sound to it, something imposing, but actually it’s not how it is. I like to call it yoga wisdom. When you dive into the wisdom of yoga, however deeply you want to go, whatever your level is, as I said earlier, it’s very accessible and there’s something there for everybody. So I hope people will not feel intimidated. Quite the contrary. Yoga holds for us an open invitation, and it has that reward of endless discovery.


I love that, yoga wisdom. So great. If you want to learn more about Carlos, please visit his main website, which is Carlos is also a part of Michelle Besnard’s teacher training courses in Thailand. The 200-hour course website is, and the 500-hour course is

So again, this is Lucas Rockwood with Absolute Yoga, and this has been one of our featured interviews in The Art of Teaching Yoga Series, and thanks so much for joining us, Carlos, and goodbye for now.