The Only Way Out Is In: A Review of Prem Carlisi’s Book on Ayurveda, Ashtanga and Tantra

Prem Carlisi in a seated yoga position

‘Be non-serious. I’m not saying not to be sincere. Be sincere, but not serious.’

The Only Way Out Is In Prem Carlisi’s book.Image credit:

You’ll find an incredibly sweet man. You’ll find a playful man. You’ll find a slightly egoic – but aren’t we all – man. You’ll find lightness. You’ll find funny bits and you’ll find some uplifting thoughts to help you move forward into the world. Just what the doctor ordered. And all this from one of the world’s premier Ashtangis, who’s truly lived the practices since the beginning of his wild journey in the US. What a treat.

If you plan to get on the mat with Prem at the Ashtanga Yoga Bali Research Center - his Mysore-dedicated shala outside of Ubud, Bali – this book is simply a must. Practicing since the seventies, and now in his sixties and fit as a fiddle, Prem is an absolute testament to the life-giving qualities of Ashtanga, Ayurveda and Tantra. He’s a leader in the field and he’s instructed superstars like Chris Martin, Gwyneth Paltrow, Pierce Brosnan and even some of us here at so we flow.... Come on. We had to.

Prem Carlisi practicing rooftop yoga in the PunjabImage credit:

‘My sincere wish in writing this book’ Prem writes, ‘Is to stir you to the depths of your being, encouraging you to go further into your divine self’. Whilst we weren’t too stirred up, the book does introduce us to an arsenal of valuable tools, and it does usher you towards a deeper inquiry. But it must be said, for those well into their journey, the book is more a read for pleasure than for next-level information or a paradigm shift.

He might have written two books, one rip-roaring flow through sex, drugs and orifice cleaning – which is hilarious - and another that delves more carefully into the practices. As it stands, The Only Way Out Is In tries to do both, which makes it light on the latter but we wouldn’t forego the joyride of the former.

Prem Carlisi captured by Viktor Bentley at the AYBRC shala.
Image credit:

‘Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reasoning and your own common sense.’

Prem will put one of his long, friendly arms around your shoulder and talk about the infinite space between stars and human dissolving-and-reassembly machines. He’ll keep you buoyant with meditations on mysterious pyramid codes and algae, and he’ll have you wondering whether he believes in the inevitability of change, or the constancy of doshas. But we give him some leeway. And so will you. It’s Prem. And Prem even says, ‘It’s important for you to know that spiritual texts are full of conjecture and hearsay.’ Prem, we hear you. ‘Test it all out in your own laboratory and see for yourself’, he says. Our philosophy entirely.

Incredibly loveable wordplay is a constant motif of the book. Be prepared to surf the INNERWEB, get welcomed into the BUDDHAHOOD, and learn that there’s no place like OM. He’s got a real propensity for this wordic witticism. We actually can’t get enough of it.

Prem Carlisi throwing shapes Titthibhasana at a temple in Mysore, India.Image credit:

Because he’s a walking, talking, writing advert for his practices (a-sixty-something-going-on-twenty-something) it’s hard to keep in mind that he’s of another generation. Yet the old-school cracks at the difficulties of dealing with women can’t help but remind us. It’s not quite Anchorman, but it’s not Dr Nira Cain-N’Degeocello either.

Prem Carlisi by Viktor Bentley. In the shala at Ashtanga Yoga Bali Research Centre.Image credit:

Ultimately, this is a book by a very knowledgeable, experienced and fun yogi who’s added life to his years and years to his life. We can all learn from inspiring and time-served leaders, like Prem. Good men who embody and wholeheartedly believe in the value of the world they’ve cultured. Whatever stage of the yogic journey you’re at, it’s a useful barometer into the life of someone who’s been there, done it and ripped the arms off the t-shirt.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Prem. We can’t wait for the next limb.

Pattabhi Jois assists Prem Carlisi in the 3rd series. The pose is Raj Kapotasana.Image credit:


Read some more

The Only Way Out Is In: a modern day yogi’s commentary on the synergy of Ayurveda, Ashtanga Yoga and Tantra by Anthony ‘Prem’ Carlisi

Eat, Taste, Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living by Yarema, Rhoda and Brannegan

Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing by Dr Vasant Lad

The Book of Secrets by Osho

Yoga Mala by Pattabhi Jois

The Divan of Hafiz by Hafiz

The Ashtanga Yoga Bali Research Center Annual Conference 2019

Prem Carlisi meditatingImage credit:

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