Published on February 27th, 2017 | by Catherine Tingey0
Drishti, The Yoga Gaze
Drishti, The Yoga Gaze
Where our attention goes, our energy flows.
When students are first learning yoga poses, they often ask me, ‘where am I supposed to be looking?’ This is a great question and one of the many reasons I absolutely love teaching beginners.
Drishti, means focused gaze in Sanskrit. On the surface, it refers to the direction of our visual attention in a yoga pose, but there is a deeper meaning as well. The ability to see clearly is a prized asset in yoga, and considered a byproduct of a consistent yoga practice.
On a subtle level, drishti can symbolize seeing past exterior obstacles and surfaces to truth, as well as the beauty within others, and a higher power.
For simplicity, we’ll focus on the 9 concrete drishtis used in yoga asana (poses).
- 3rd eye (in between eyebrows)
- tip of the nose
- palm of the hand
- upwards to the sky
In each yoga pose, there is a corresponding gazing point. Isn’t that cool? These are not often emphasized in public classes but when learning yoga privately, I like to break down a physical pose into 2 components.
- Physical- where are my limbs in space?
- Energetic- where is my attention/gaze?
There is no better way to experience the power of drishti than in balancing postures!
Let’s take Tree Pose for example. While in Tree Pose, try closing one eye. If you’re feeling daring, try closing both. Notice how quickly your balance is affected.
The next time you’re in a group class, try focusing your gaze on the person in front of you, who is likely moving. And then direct your drishti to the tip of your nose or a fixed point on the floor, preferably in a downward slope.
Recently I attended a class and forgot a hair tie. Practicing a basic Vinyasa flow turned into a balancing challenge when I could no longer see in front of me. It’s experiences like this that make me realize the importance of seeing through beginner’s eyes, and inspire me to write many of my articles.
Drishti, the yoga gaze is a multi-layered concept that we only superficially employ in asana-based practice.
If you are interested in learning more about how to use drishti the yoga gaze in your own yoga practice, consider hiring a certified private yoga instructor!