If you have ever taken a yoga class, in person or online, you have probably heard the instructor say something along the lines of….”Now bring your Dristhi to …” some part of your physical or subtle body. For most of us lay folk, who are not fluent in Sanskrit, we can derive a contextual understanding of the term as being focus or attention. But what does Drishti really mean?
Drishti is the sanskrit term used to define a technique where the individual softly focuses and maintains the gaze on a particular point. “Where our eyes are directed our attention follows”. This technique is used in the yogic practice to direct the focus beyond the external and move the attention internally.
“It is a means through which an individual can develop a more concentrated practice and thus quite the mind.”
There are 9 Dristi points that are commonly used in asana with each posture utilizing one of these points. Here are those 9 points of focus:
- Tip of the nose (Nasagre)
- Tip of the middle finger (Hastagre)
- Tip of the thumb (Angusthamadhye)
- Upward (Urdhva Drishti)
- Navel (Nabhichakra)
- Toes (Padayoragre)
- Third eye (Bhrumadhye)
- Left Side (Parsva Drishti)
- Right Side (Parsva Drishti)
This technique that is not limited to just physical postures but can also translate as vision, point of view, intelligence or wisdom. The notion of Drishti is intrinsically related to Pratyahara (Sense Withdrawal) since in the proper practice of this technique it is necessary to detach from the majority of sensory stimuli and hone the attention onto one particular point of focus. This focused attention also complements the other yogic limb Dhyana (Concentration) as that is precisely what the practitioner is attempting to achieve. It should be noted that Drishti is not a goal rather a technique which is employed to “see” the true essence of the Self.