Featured Teacher: Paula Padma Carino


September 2018

Paula Padma Carino

Interview by Sara McElwain

paula-carino-headshot2Paula Padma Carino has been teaching at IYI since 1999. She is a psychotherapist, writer, and musician. www.paulacarino.com

What is your definition of Yoga?

Starting from Patanjali’s description of Yoga—“The Seer abides in Itself, resting in Its own True Nature”—I personally conceive of Yoga as any practice that brings us to that state of union, that dissolution between individual self and the Big Self.

What do you love about Yoga?

I love that by following any of the Yogic paths, you can actually make strides to get to that state of union—or close, anyway! I love that the Raja Yoga path encompasses an ethical code and a set of tangible practices that everyone can follow and adapt. So, it’s practical and considers one’s place in the social world, but with this ultimately transcendent goal of realization.

Why do you teach Yoga?

I can’t even put into words how much Yoga—and particularly Integral Yoga—has brought to my life, starting with my very first class at IYI, in 1991. It’s been a steady anchor throughout the years and has given me peace, connection, spiritual joy, discipline, and physical vitality. To be able to give even a fraction of that back to the community—to honor and spread the teachings—means so much to me.  When I decided to do IYI TT, it didn’t even feel like a “decision” so much as an inevitability.

What are the particular areas of Yoga you are teaching in now or in which you have created your own, special offerings? 

While I no longer teach for a living, my personal Yoga practice and my teacher training inform much of what I do as a psychotherapist. Any person seeking therapy is seeking peace and liberation from limiting conditioning, and that’s what Yoga is all about. I have worked with many clients who are healing from profound trauma, and much of what is considered “gold standard” trauma treatment is somatically based; it overlaps seamlessly with Yogic training. I have also instructed chair Yoga and meditation classes at mental health clinics, and it’s always a joy to see someone who has never meditated before connect with his or her inner peace for the first time.

What do you hope students will receive from you as a teacher, and what do you hope students will get out of your classes?

I hope my students feel welcome, safe, respected, and enlivened in class and free to ask questions at any point. I make an effort to stay immersed in the Integral “way” by doing sadhana, taking classes at IYI regularly, and going to retreats at Yogaville at least once a year in the hope that I can realize Sri Swami Satchidananda’s vision of the “easeful, peaceful, useful” life and pass that on to students wordlessly. I try to emphasize the meditative aspects of the IYI class because that is what’s so special about IYI.

Do you have a favorite book or Yoga mat or product that you like, something you sincerely enjoy and wish to share with the teacher sangha?

Oh, boy, there are a million, but right now I love my cool Ganesha T-shirt, Mark Stephens’s Yoga Adjustments book, and Chip Hartranft’s translation of and commentary on the Sutras, one of the best I’ve ever read. (All are available at the IYI shop.)

Ongoing classes at IYI: Mondays, 9:15 a.m.