Inhale and exhale into Warrior II with your Drishti at the middle finger of your front hand. Wait, what? What’s a Drishti? If you attend my classes, you will often hear me tell students where their Drishti should be, but what is that? And why is it important?
First let’s start with the beginning:
DRISHTI – Is a focused gaze. It is used to create a concentrated focal point or intention. It also relates to the fifth limb of yoga; pratyahara.
Each yoga asana (pose) has a particular Drishti – sometimes it depends on the actual style of yoga that you are practicing where your Drishti would be and is mostly used in Ashtanga, (and of course there are always modifications due to body limitations) but for the most part teachers follow the same guidelines. Below I’ve listed an easy cheat sheet for where and when to use the correct Drishti.
Thumb Drishti (Angusthamadhye) – This Drishti is where your focus is only on the thumbs. With the exhale the Drishti should find itself locked onto the thumb until the next flow. Poses: Extended Mountain, Chair Pose (Utkatasana).
Third Eye Drishti (Bhrūmadhye) – Focus is on the third eye, or in between the eye brows. Poses: Forward Fold (Uttanasana) & Upward Facing Dog.
Tip of the Nose Drishti (Nāsāgre) – Focus is at the tip of the nose. This takes time to get used to, and your eyes should feel like they are halfway closed. Poses: Chaturanga Dandasana, Downward Facing Dog.
Tips of the Toes Drishti (Pādayoragre) – Focus is at the toes, typically I use my big toe. Poses: Janu Sirsasana, Seated Forward Fold (Pashimottanasana)
Left or Right Drishti (Pārśva) – Focus is on either side of the body depending on the pose. Poses: Maricyasana C & D
Sky Drishti (Urdhva) – Focus is upward to the sky, universe, and ceiling. Poses: Ubhaya Padangushtasana (Both Big Toe Pose)
Navel Drishti (Nābhicakre) – Focus is at the Navel or the center of the belly. Poses: Standing Splits
So why is Drishti important?
I’m only speaking for my own practice and experience, but I find it distracting to stare into a mirror (one reason why I always face away from them) or into someone else’s ass. Using a Drishti or a really concentrated gaze allows you to let go of the outer elements and check into the pose and into yourself. The actual asana practice of yoga is a beautiful thing because it allows us to leave our bodies and shift inward by physically using breath and movement. If you take away your sight to follow lights, other peoples’ bodies, mirrors, etc., you can genuinely start to experience the life force within you, and start to progress from the inside out. Try it next time you are in a class or at home. Use your Drishti and your breath to lead you from one pose to another and see if you feel better about the whole practice and not just a couple of poses you are great at. Remember yoga is about living and breathing the practice. It’s not something that’s just done on the mat; it is forever evolving and changing with the surroundings of your life. If you can make one aspect of your practice easier to check into, wouldn’t you want to?
Love & Light,