Posted by: Dania Corrigan Category: MY YOGA BODY Post Date: 21.02.2021

Drishti – the yogic technique to focus

For how long can you stay in Virabhadrasana II or Uttita Trikonasana? Do you know that if you gaze your eyes into one point and succeed to fix long enough time your gaze, you can stay in the pose for longer? Drishti is exactly this technique when you manage to concentrate in one object or one thought and every others distractive objects or thought you can restrict.

Drishti in asanas

In balancing poses such as Vrksasana, Garudasana, Virabhadrasana II and III, Natarajasana and Padangusthasana (toe stand), is very important to find your balance. Almost everything in yoga is relative to finding your balance and this is the main point – yoga means union between body and mind, which we can achieve if we find the balance in life.

We can start with doing the technique drishti in asanas when we practise yoga. By focusing our gaze into one point we can better and improve the pose, we can also increase the time we stand into the pose. There are nine possible drishtis: the tip of the nose, the toes, the fingertips, the thumb, the navel, between the eyebrows (third eye), up to the sky, to the right, and to the left. Each pose requires one of these specific focal attention points.

For example, when we stay in Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog), the drishti is the navel. Thus, we release the neck and help us to do correctly the pose. In Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II), the drishti is your fingertips of the forward hand, which reminds you to keep your head facing forward. In standing pose on one leg like Vrksasana (tree pose) is very helpful to find one point in front of you to manage keeping your balance. This could be one stain on the wall or the point between your eyebrows.

Drishti in mind

In our mind drishti is a process of elimination. For example when you go to party and there are a lot of people, but you are looking for one concrete person – your friend. Usually you don’t see firstly him. This is a process: you should walk around, look and seek for your friend, so you eliminate a group of people and the place where your friend is not. Actually you reach your friend by eliminating the people and the places.

Focusing is related to awareness of the environment and then purify it from all the objects until you see your friend. And keep your eye on it, without paying attention to other objects or people.

When people are distracted constantly by different thoughts and you can’t stay focusing on one object for a long time, it’s highly possible to develop variety of symptoms. Nowadays people call it “burnout syndrome”. Through the day we are thinking about so many things and our thoughts are plenteous. Unfortunately most of the thoughts are not beautiful and careless. We have the ability to concentrate on the bad thoughts and develop one bad thought into much more similar bad thoughts.

Drishti is very important to remind us to stay in the present moment and be aware what we are doing, where we are. Our thoughts are flying through different directions, like flies they land on one object to another, moment after moment, throughout the whole day.

When we practise drishti in poses or simply by staying at home or outside and just keep our gaze on one object, without thinking about something else, we develop the ability to stay focus unconsciously. It becomes a part of our lives. Thus, we become better in our job and relationships.

Bahya drishti is when our focus is oriented in the external environment. An antara drishti is when the gazing point is internally oriented. It helps us to practice the 5th limb of yoga – Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses).

Drishti in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is considered for the oldest known text on the subject of yoga. Patanjali describes yoga as an eightfold path, consisting of eight mind-body disciplines to be mastered. The fifth limb of this system is called Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses. Pratyahara is the preliminary step to meditation, or the yoga practitioner must learn how to withdraw his senses from the external world and drawing the attention inward. By doing this you should reduce the disturbances in the mind known as vritti, which interferes the peace of mind, that is needed for concentration and meditation.

Here practicing drishti is very helpful method to withdraw the senses. By focusing into one point or one thought you actually withdrawing your attention from many objects into one concrete. It is beneficial for our health to train withdrawal of the senses, because we live in time when our senses are constantly stimulating. From television, radio, social media, newspapers, books, magazines – we are daily exposed to loud noises, bright colors, plenty of information and dramatic scenes.

Pratyahara is hard to accomplish. Can you imagine to stay calm and peaceful when the child is screaming or the boss is complaining? You can do it but firstly you have to practice drishti – the technique of focusing and concentrate.

Pratyahara prepares the mind for meditation and helps us to avoid the environment disturbances.

The sixth limb of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is called Dharana, which means focussed concentration.

Dharana is entwined with drishti, vision, both outer and inner. As you gaze steadily and intently, using specific direction of eyes, you develop concentration over a period of time.

When you are able to remain focused and concentrated, you can achieve Dhyana, or the 8th limb of Yoga. This deeper concentration of the mind is the instrument of self-knowledge where you can separate illusion from reality, and eventually, reach the ultimate goal of yoga: Samadhi (bliss, or union with the source).

Don’t force yourself to look at one point. Focusing has to be natural and soft, without efforts. Drishti is a soft gaze, where your eyes are resting gently on one spot.

Extreme focus, such as while playing an instrument, has been connected with meditation. Psychologists call this a “flow state”. In both meditation and “flow”, your brain waves change from beta – associated with thinking and conversing – to mostly alpha and theta – associated with relaxation and creative problem solving.

The benefits of the yogic gazing technique called drishti are many. At first we calm down the nervous system, then we control the bad thoughts. Our heart rate slows and the mind becomes clear. By focusing and fixation of one object, thought or spot, we learn to separate the illusion from the reality. Thus, we become more aware and able to let go from the things that don’t serve us anymore.

Share this post

Leave a Reply