Why Drishti Is Important

“Find your Drishti!” your yoga teacher calls out. Find my what? You think; What part of the body is the Drishti? 

The Sanskrit definition of Drishti is “sight” or “focused gaze.” It is meant to help you develop your concentration and keep your attention on the pose, not on outside stimuli. It stops you from looking at what is going on around you; what your fellow yogis are wearing, the squirrel running around a tree outside the window, or how much better the person in front of you is at balancing in Tree Pose. Our attention follows wherever our eyes go, and Drishti tells us where to send our gaze for maximum focus.

Drishti In Yoga

Many yoga poses have their own point of Drishti, or area that you focus your attention on while holding it. In Ashtanga style yoga, there are nine focusing points that you can turn your attention to, depending on the pose you are in: 

  • Nasagram Drishti – The most often used Drishti, located at the space just beyond the tip of your nose. Mainly used for sitting postures. 
  • Ajna Chakra Drishti – The space between your eyebrows (like in Reverse Warrior)
  • Nabhi Chakra Drishti – Navel (like in Downward Dog)
  • Hastagre Drishti – Hand (like in Triangle)
  • Pahayoragrai Drishti – Toes (like in Seated Forward Fold)
  • Parshva Drishti – Far to the right (like in most twists)
  • Parshva Drishti – Far to the left (same as above)
  • Angushtha Ma Dyai Drishti – Thumbs (like in Upward Salute)
  • Urdhva Drishti or Antara Drishti – Up to the sky (like in Warrior I)

When practicing Drishti, it is important to keep a “soft gaze.” It means that instead of tensing up and staring so to speak, keep your eyes light and hold your point of Drishti softly as if it were a living thing and you do not want to smother it. Drishti is very useful in balancing postures when you focus on an unmoving point in front of you. Keeping your attention on something stationary helps you ground your mind and thus your body. Drishti also incorporates the inner gaze, which is used in Savasana to find points of tension and release them. Again, use a soft gaze to examine your body and see where you need to give it a little TLC. 

Drishti In Life

Drishti might be used most often in yoga, but you can use its philosophy in your everyday life too. We could all use a little more Drishti, especially when our society moves at such a rapid pace and the slightest distraction diverts our attention. We are also encouraged to practice multitasking, which has been proven to benefit absolutely nobody. 

Where is your point of Drishti in your life? What should you be giving 100% of your undivided attention to? Which direction should you be looking, and why is that place important? Perhaps you’ve become distracted by the promise of a booming career but have left your family life by the wayside. Maybe you’ve been thinking that finding your soulmate will complete your life, but you’ve forgotten to take care of #1. In any case, use the single-point focus and concentration you learn in yoga and let it guide your gaze in life. 

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