Something that isn’t always taught in yoga classes is the concept of drishti. It’s possible to practise yoga for many years and never study drishti in any depth. If you’re wondering what drishti is or what makes it so important in your yoga practice, keep reading to discover the many benefits of this essential yogic concept.
What is Drishti?
Drishti is a Sanskrit word that means “vision” or “observation.” In yoga, it refers to the practice of choosing a specific point of focus for the eyes while carrying out the various asanas (yoga poses). When we focus on a drishti, we become more able to balance physically, calling all our wandering attention to order, similar to the spotting that dancers use to keep them from losing balance or becoming dizzy during a rapid sequence of turns.
Drishti Is Essential for Balancing Poses
With yoga, the need for focus and balance can sometimes be acute, even while practising the seemingly most basic balancing poses. A drishti can help us to summon our inner strength and train the mind and body to move beyond our everyday skills and capabilities. As well as improving mental focus and concentration, drishti can also help to improve posture and breathing.
Drishti Increases Mindfulness
Drishti also helps to keep the mind focused on the present moment and on the yoga practice itself. By focusing our attention on the immediate environment, we are able to become increasingly more present and mindful within the practice, as we turn our gaze inward. This reminds us to bring the focus and wisdom we find on the yoga mat into our daily physical lives.
What are Some Common Drishti Gazing Points?
For those newer to the practice, here are some of the most common gazing points:
- Nasagra Drishti: This involves focusing on the tip of the nose, for example, while practicing urdhva mukha svanasana (upward-facing dog pose).
- Bhrumadhya Drishti: This involves focusing the internal gaze on the space between the eyebrows (at the third eye chakra) for example, during meditation or while practicing fish pose and the forward fold asana.
- Nabhi chakra Drishti: This involves gazing at the navel (or solar plexus chakra), for example, while practising adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog pose).
- Hastagrai Drishti: This drishti involves focusing the gaze on the tops of the hands, for example, in trikonasana (triangle pose), when we gaze at the top of the hand with the arm extended toward the sky.
- Padayoragrai Drishti: This involves focusing the gaze on the toes, for example when focusing on the big toes in a seated forward bend, like paschimottanasana.
- Parsva Drishti: This drishti involves focusing the gaze to the left or right while practising any seated or reclined spinal twists.
- Angusthamadhye Drishti: This involves focusing the gaze on the thumbs, for example during surya namaskars (sun salutations), when we gaze at the thumbs while moving from mountain pose to a standing forward fold, or when practising utkatasana (chair pose).
- Urdhva Drishti: This drishti involves gazing up toward the sky, for example during virabhadrasana I (warrior I pose) and navasana (boat pose).
Study Yoga in Greater Depth and Learn More About Drishti
If you’ve never been taught about drishti before in your yoga practice, maybe you should pay a visit to the Power Yoga Co. at our yoga studio in London. We provide thorough training for students at all levels and for the yoga teachers of the future! If you dream of becoming a master at yoga, try one of our classes!