Where should you look while in a yoga pose? Should we look at our reflection in the mirror and admire our hair or look at nothing and plan our grocery list? According to current yoga understanding, it is advised to gaze at a single point during the entire pose! This one-pointed focus, or point of gaze, is called a drishti. Drishti, in the Indian language of Sanskrit, literally means vision or gaze.
Ashtanga Yoga Master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois introduced the drishti technique.
In this technique, Ashtanga students are taught to direct their gaze, drishti, to one of nine specific points.
Tip of the nose (Nasagre)
Sideways to the right (Parsva drishti)
See 4, to the left
Upward (Urdhva drishti)
Toes, or (Padayoragre)
The third eye (Bhrumadhye)
There are two types of drishtis with the same goal.
1.Ashtanga: The word and practice of Ashtanga, relates to the eight limbs of yoga. First, the drishti functions to control attention (), the 6th limb of yoga. It helps to further direct The pranic (energetic) body. Left unchecked we become scattered and unbalanced in our lives. Second, it relates the concept of withdrawing ones senses () the 5th limb of yoga. It also relates to the 7th level of Yoga because it prepares the practioner to enter meditation after they have gained full control over their focus.
2.Bhakti: to invoke a loving emotion toward Krishna, one of God’s forms, in order to transform the world.
How Drishti works
The Yoga drishti works by combining two elements to create true vision. As you stare intentionally at a point you are able to stop your normal habits of relating to things, places and people that you see in a very ego centered manner that we are usually not even aware of. It is like putting a magnifying glass on our thoughts and dissolving false thoughts that would otherwise hi-jack our mind.
It combines viveka (discrimination between true and false view) and vairagya (detachment from objects and the ego identification with these objects). This basic misidentification is called avidya (ignorance), and its counterpart, vidya, is our true identity.
3 Tips when Using Drishti
1. Gaze softly and focus on the quality of inner essence versus outer appearance. This also helps you remember to relax and deeply breathe.
2. Gaze at a comfortable point instead of forcing your body into a physically uncomfortable position. You can always modify from a gaze at the sky to a point a couple feet in front of you.
3. Know that you have the option to switch between gazing inward or at an outward point depending on your current state of your thoughts. If closing your eyes causes you to daydream, than opening your eyes will help you to concentrate.
Drishti with Pose Examples
Balancing poses: like (Tree Pose).
Using Drishti helps you become stable and balanced matching the qualitaties of this balancing pose.
Common Pose: (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), we use Nabhichakra.
This helps you focus on your navel chakra center, increasing energy and focus.
Seated forward bends,: Here you can gaze at the big toes.
This adds more energy and a grounding effect to the pose.
By using the drishti with the pose in your yoga practice, you gain many more benefits!