Yoga Drishti is a Sanskrit word that means view or sight. It is a directed focus or gaze performed during the practice of meditation or an asana (pose). This technique helps develop concentration and better focus on the world overall.
It is essential to use a proper sight with our asanas because, without it, we can lose our concentration and balance. Consider the pose of a Half Moon, if we look at our feet instead of just beyond, our eyes have a way of pulling us, and we are more likely to lose our balance and topple over.
Drishti stems from the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga method and has been taught to the many practitioners who follow this and other types of yoga. Learning how to control your gaze is a way of controlling your attention; and with each asana that you practice, you can choose one from the nine specific points.
- Upward-Facing Dog – Nasagrai Drishti (gaze at the nose tip)
- Fish Pose – Naitrayohmadya or Broomadhya Drishti (gaze at the third eye)
- Downward-Facing Dog – Nabi Chakra Drishti (gaze at the navel)
- Triangle Pose – Hastagrai Drishti (gaze at the hand)
- Seated Forward Bend – Pahayoragrai Drishti (gaze at the big toes)
- Seated Spinal Twists – Parsva Drishti (gaze as far as you can in the direction of the twist)
- Sideways – Parsva Drishti (same as spinal twists)
- First Movement Of Sun Salutation And Chair Pose – Angusta Ma Dyai Drishti (gaze up at the thumbs)
- Warrior Pose I – Urdhva Drishti (gaze into infinity)
By gazing into one of the Drishti points, it helps aid in your concentration and movement and helps orientate your prana (energy flow). To accomplish this type of view, focus your eyes and attention on one unmoving spot in the distance in front of you (depending on each specific point). Lock your gaze to help you keep your balance. Make sure to steady your breath.
Outside Of Asanas
Drishti has another meaning, a point of view, which is used outside of the asanas we practice. It can also serve as a metaphor for focussing our consciousness toward a vision of oneness. As a Yogi, we seek to view an inner reality that is not normally visible to us on the spectrum of light. Usually, our vision is limited to what our brains let us see. By using the Drishti technique, we see unity in life, and we are no longer limited to our views.
Drishti is also used outside of the Ashtanga Vinyasa tradition. A cleansing technique called the technique of Trataka, or candle gazing, is where the eyes are held open until tears form. It has two purposes:
- The first is to wash the eyes with tears
- The second, to teach the student to resist the unconscious urge to blink.
It is important to note that when practicing the technique of Drishti, you must not use a hard gaze on your intended target, but rather a soft gaze. Never gaze so hard that you tense your body and create stiffness in your neck or shoulders as you may cause yourself an injury.
Until you become more familiar with this type of gaze, feel free to try Bahya (external) gazing points when practicing your asanas. Remember though that they require a soft gaze as well.
As with many parts of yoga, practice helps greatly in accomplishing your goals. Although this gazing technique can help you greatly with your yoga practice, use it as a tool to eliminate the false visions we so often perceive to be the truth in life and learn to set your vision free.