Why your DRISHTI in Yoga practice so important
What does Drishti even mean? We’ve heard the word in class, read it in articles. But can you define it?
It is this. Drishti is a point of focus where one rests one’s gaze during asana and meditation practice.
There’s a saying, “Where focus goes, energy flows.”
Try this experiment. Sit quietly and comfortably and intently focus your gaze on your stomach. Do you not instantly feel your energy going to your stomach?
When we do our asana yoga practice we can sometimes be distracted by thoughts, noises, peripheral movement, etc. That distant siren outside, the stomach gurgle of the person next to you, can sound like a rushing freight train in the quiet of the studio, pulling you off-center. Using Drishti causes you to draw the outward-looking mind and senses inward. Our asana practice now becomes our meditation practice.
Not every school of yoga teaches using Drishti in your practice. Ashtanga yoga does, especially in the Mysore class. In Mysore Ashtanga, everyone in the room is practicing together, but separately. This sounds confusing, but what do we mean by that? Each Yogi does the Ashtanga series at their own pace. This results in each person quickly finding themselves in a different place in the sequence. Using Drishti helps keep each practitioner focused on their own practice. Alone. Together. This also allows the teacher to spend a focused Drishti moment correcting the needs of each student as they arise for the individual. Here are some Drishti points, accompanied by a pose corresponding to each.
- Nasagrai Drishti - the space just beyond the tip of the nose. This is the primary Drishti, used in seated postures.
- Nhrumadhya Drishti - the space between the eyebrows (ex. Purvottanasana)
- Nabi Chakra Drishti - navel center (ex. Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Hastagrai Drishti - hand (ex. Trikonasana)
- Pahayoragrai Drishti - toes (ex. Savangasana)
- Parshva Drishti - far to the right (ex. Supta Padangusthasana)
- Parshva Drishti - far to the left (ex. Marichyasana C)
- Angushtha Ma Dyai Drishti - thumbs (beginning of Suryanamaskara)
- Urdhva Drishti or Antara Drishti - up to the sky (Virabhadrasana A)
Using Drishti helps to keep one’s alignment in check during one’s practice, especially for the neck and spine. This is most important when you’re doing a downward-facing dog posture (adho mukha svanasana). Your gaze is at your navel, helping you to remember to keep your head down and release your neck.
Drishti comes to play in your meditation practice as well. Try focusing your attention on the tip of your nose when you next find your mind drifting.
Wishing you a better-focused practice through engaging Drishti.