The Role of Thinking in Ashtanga Yoga Practice – A Conversation between Andy Davis and Iain Grysak

A few months ago, I engaged in an email discussion with Andy Davis, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee and an Ashtanga practitioner. We explored the subject of thinking during asana practice. Many practitioners hold the erroneous assumption that the goal of yoga and meditation practice is to stop thinking. Andy and I discussed this assumption and some of my alternative viewpoints based on reactivity: [...]

January 24th, 2020|Ashtanga Yoga|1 Comment

Reflections on the new shala and my fifth trip of practice in Mysore with Sharath Jois – by Iain Grysak

I recently completed my fifth trip of practice with Sharath Jois in Mysore, India. It’s been a few trips since I wrote an anecdotal account of my experiences in Mysore. After my preceding two trips, I didn’t have much that was new to say about Mysore or practice with Sharathji, but this trip felt different. I had the opportunity to be in the first batch of students who practiced the [...]

December 28th, 2019|Ashtanga Yoga|25 Comments

“Movement Homeopathy” in Ashtanga Yoga practice – by Iain Grysak

I recently listened to a podcast interview with movement therapist Greg Lehman. Greg's perspectives on movement, pain and pathology resonate strongly with my own, and I have shared his ideas on my Spacious Yoga facebook page numerous times. I found some interesting concepts in the interview which are applicable to my approach to Ashtanga Yoga practice. The concept of "movement homeopathy" was my favorite takeaway. The concept is that we [...]

November 7th, 2019|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Reflections on Todd Hargrove’s “A Guide To Better Movement” in the context of Ashtanga Yoga practice – by Iain Grysak

I recently read Todd Hargrove's book, "A Guide to Better Movement". I don't recall who initially recommended Hargrove's book to me, but it was after I had mentioned that I was reading and Katy Bowman's "Movement Matters" a few years ago. I bought "A Guide to Better Movement" around that time, and it has sat in my book box (regrettably, I can't keep my books displayed on a bookshelf [...]

August 30th, 2019|Uncategorized|5 Comments

The Tree of Bandha: Moving in Embodied Relationship with the Earth – by Iain Grysak

When I introduce the subjects of breath and bandha in my immersion and pranayama courses, I begin with a description of three different layers of internal feeling and experience to which we can attend and move from during practice. These three layers of our experience of posture and movement are body, breath and bandha. These layers are functionally intertwined and inseparable in their roles within the experience of the [...]

June 8th, 2019|Uncategorized|5 Comments

Wellbeing on the Edge: Learning from Mysore Style Ashtanga Yoga by Andy Davis

The following article is a transcript of a paper presented by Andy Davis, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, at the 25th national Asian Studies Development Program conference: "Wellbeing in Asian Traditions of Thought and Practice." The paper is partially based on an interview that Andy conducted with me in November 2018 while he was participating in my Mysore style classes and pranayama course. - [...]

March 14th, 2019|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Teaching vs. Preaching: Embodiment as the Gateway to Authentic Understanding and Integration – by Iain Grysak

One of my favorite fictional characters is John Oldman, from the “Man from Earth” movie series. In the second installment of the series, John is a university professor of religious studies. Having had 14 000 years of experience to hone his discernment, he makes a particularly effective and popular teacher. Some of his students discover that he 14 000 years old, a fact that he tries to keep hidden [...]

December 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|11 Comments

Nature Spirits – by Iain Grysak

Spirit emerges and evolves out of the complex web of relationships which comprise the self-organizing intelligence of nature. No entity or organism exists as an independent island. An entity exists by means of its participation in relationship with other entities within a dynamic higher order system. An entity's network of relationships with all that is "other" is part and parcel of the essence of [...]

January 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Brahmacharya: Exploring Relationship From an Animist and Systems Perspective – by Iain Grysak

The term "brahmacharya" is found in both the Sanskrit and Pali languages of ancient India. It is listed amongst Patanjali’s five yamas and the Buddha’s panchasila, both of which address the ethical or behavioural aspects of the sphere of spiritual practice. Brahmacharya is commonly interpreted as pertaining to control or restraint in the exchange of sexual energy. The specific details of this prescription of control or restraint vary from tradition [...]

A systems thinking perspective on the resolution of pain in Ashtanga Yoga practice – by Iain Grysak

"I've been studying low back pain for the last 50 years of my life and if anyone says they know where low back pain comes from, they're full of shit" - Alf Nachemson, quoted in the above video. I agree with the message of this video completely. After watching it, I felt compelled to write more about my interpretation of pain, injury, pathology [...]

  • For privacy reasons YouTube needs your permission to be loaded. For more details, please see our Privacy Policy.
    I Accept

Some Thoughts on Alignment….

This article was originally published on my Spacious Yoga facebook page in April, 2017. In the above video, Mr. Lehman describes one important reason that I don't obsess over what I call "micro-alignment" principles in teaching yoga.There are some branches of yoga, as well as some outspoken teachers within the Ashtanga fold, who strongly insist on very rigid and dogmatic postural alignment. Some of these teachers tout [...]

April 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Geometry of Bandha

This article was originally published on my Spacious Yoga facebook page in March, 2017. Bandha naturally emerges within a person when the two polarities of the spectrum of any given aspect of our existence are in relative balance and communication with one another. If we stand in the middle of a high mountain ridge, we can clearly see what lies on either side of the ridge. Similarly, in the balanced [...]

April 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment


This article was originally published on my Spacious Yoga facebook page in September 2016. Sukha..... Bandha arises naturally within an Ashtanga practitioner when the qualities of sukha (softness, lightness, ease) and sthira (firmness, stability, strength) are both established and cultivated within the context of a dynamic relationship with one another. The commonly held belief that mula bandha arises from consciously squeezing the pelvic floor (or other muscles in that area) [...]

April 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Gunung Abang – Further Reflections on Organic Intelligence, Animism, Gaia & Relationship with the Non-human

It was clear and crisp on Saturday morning – a bit of a rarity in this year’s dry season – and perfect for a visit to Gunung Abang, the third highest mountain in Bali. I had already hiked up Abang three times this year, and like any place that I visit regularly, I felt like I had begun to develop a relationship with it. I arrived at the trailhead [...]

Becoming Animal: Using Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Meditation as Embodiment Practices for the Cultivation of Organic Intelligence

A practitioner in my Mysore program recently asked me: “If one side of a posture is more open than the other, and I feel like I can keep going deeper in the more open side, should I hold back to try to even it out with the less open side?” My response drew from what I feel is one of the most beautiful aspects of the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice. [...]

Starting Third Series (Again) – Reflections on an 11 year relationship.

I first began to practice the third series of the Ashtanga Vinyasa system in early 2005, shortly after relocating to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory of Northern Canada. I had learned the primary and intermediate series from Mark Darby in Montreal the year before, and following a period of travel and then settling in a very remote and isolated corner of the world, I was far away from anyone [...]

You Stop There, Part II – Reflections on my second trip in Mysore with Sharath Jois

I recently completed my second three month trip practicing with Sharath Jois at the KPJAYI in Mysore. Last year I wrote two blog posts about my first trip, “A New Chapter” and “You Stop There”. These articles expressed my perspective of the experience of starting over as a beginner with Sharath, after having had a daily Ashtanga practice for 12 years, having completed the 4th series with my previous [...]

Perceiving and Being Perceived – The Reciprocal Relationship with the Non-Human World

Given the amount of time in my life that I have spent hiking and hanging out in bear habitat, I consider myself lucky to have almost completely avoided any form of contact or encounter with bears. I’ve only once seen a bear while out walking, and that was a fleeting encounter as the bear ignored me and continued along its way – which is how the majority of human-bear [...]

Thoughts on Deepening an Authentic Yoga Practice

Authentic yoga practice is an exploration in relationship. One who is practicing yoga as sadhana (rather than yoga as entertainment) has a relationship with their teacher, a relationship with the practice method or tradition, and most importantly a relationship with the self. Ultimately, the real work of yoga is to deepen and strengthen these relationships. A solid and stable relationship with the teacher and with the tradition of practice [...]

“You Stop There” Lessons from Sharath Jois and Reflections on the Mysore Method

I recently returned from my first three month trip to practice with Sharath Jois in Mysore. I am not a newcomer to the Ashtanga system – I completed the 4th series with my previous teacher Rolf Naujokat earlier in 2014, and have maintained a daily Ashtanga practice for nearly 12 years. I knew that when I went to Mysore for the first time, none of this would matter. When [...]

A New Chapter: Reflections From Mysore 6 Weeks In

I don’t often publicly express opinions or viewpoints until I have fully digested and integrated the experiences that lead to their formation. I realize that this has become increasingly rare in today’s world of social media where we can impulsively broadcast all of our experiences and opinions instantly. It is not uncommon for photos, quotations and reactions from a certain experience to be uploaded to thousands of people on [...]

Join the Newsletter

Stay informed on Iain’s teaching schedule and new articles. Quarterly updates – unsubscribe at anytime.

Spacious Yoga