Drishti - Direction of the Gaze in Yoga.

During Yoga classes you may often have heard your teacher give you indications on where to look in the different positions; upwards, towards the navel, to the fingers of your hand … This is what is called Drishti in technical terms. In fact, Drishti in Sanskrit can be literally translated as “what is looked at” and is identified, in Yoga practice, with the direction of the practitioner’s gaze.

Drishti is very important in a correct Yoga practice since attention and breath flows are closely connected with the direction of the gaze. In fact, especially in some styles of yoga such as Ashtanga, in every posture and during the movement between one posture and another there is a specific point to look at. The gaze not only helps to find balance but after a few years of practice it gives a relaxing effect to the body and mind (keep in mind that the approach with drishti must be gradual because especially at the beginning, it requires a certain effort. which can cause headaches).

As we have said, the term Drishti in Sanskrit can mean in a broad sense “to concentrate the gaze”, however also specifying the need to add one’s intention and vigilant attention in looking in a certain direction.

When in a forward bend we look at our big toes, we are not only fixing our gaze but we are setting ourselves a goal: to get to stretch ourselves to the maximum of our potential. Precisely for this reason, focusing attention on the direction of our gaze also has a symbolic meaning: it is equivalent to choosing a goal that is important to us and focusing on it. We visualize the goal and prepare ourselves physically and mentally to achieve it.

Why is important to set the gaze.

By regulating the gaze, the mind is ordered. This concept is the basis of the exercises of Dharana (concentration) in which the gaze becomes “the mind’s eye turned to one’s interior” (as B.K.S. Iyengar says in “Lights on Pranayama”).
In fact, the practice of drishti is also useful in times of indecision and inner turmoil. To be sure of ourselves and full of energy it is important to have a goal, a goal towards which to direct your attention. No matter if long or short term, the goal must be clear and visible and our daily reality must be constantly nourished by the scent of this “arrival point”. We allow our mind to focus only on what is really necessary for us and we abandon any alternative path that causes useless waste of energy.

The 9 Drishti

In the practice of Ashtanga each movement is combined with one of the nine Drishti of yoga:

1) Nāsāgrai: the tip of the nose, center of the Nadi Ida and Pingala.

2) Bhrūmadhya: the third eye, in the center the three eyebrows (Ajna Chakra).

3) Nābhicakra: the navel.

4) Hastagrai: the hand.

5) Pādayoragrai: the big toes.

6) and 7) Pārśva: to the side, right or left.

8) Aṅguṣṭha madhyai: the thumbs.Ūrdhva or Antara: upwards.

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