How to get better at yoga with the 9 Drishti

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If you’re wondering how you can get better at yoga, learning the ‘Drishti’ is a good place to start. 

What is Drishti?

The word Drishti comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘gaze’ or ‘sight’. In yoga we use this term to refer to where we are looking during a yoga pose or meditation. Learning the Drishti will help you know what you should be doing with your eyeballs in a posture. (Hint- looking at your neighbor in comparison or looking at the clock is not a drishti.)

“where attention goes, energy flows”

Controlling your gaze in a yoga pose helps strengthen focus, builds discipline, reduces comparison, and helps you balance. Have you heard the saying “where attention goes, energy flows”? That is the basic concept of a Drishti. You are bringing attention to a specific space in order to reap more benefits from your yoga posture.

The nine Drishtis:

1 – Tip of the nose – Nasagra Drishti

2 – Up to space – Urdva Drishti

3 – Third Eye (Ajna Chakra) – Brumadya Drishti (can be practiced with eyes open or closed)

4 – Tip of the middle finger – Hastagra Drishti

5 – Tip of the thumb – Angushta Drishti

6 – Right Side – Parshva Drishti

7 – Left Side – Parshva Drishti

8 – Navel (Manipura Chakra) – Nabi Drishti

9 – Tip of the big toe – Padagra Drishti


Common poses & their drishti’s

  • Downward Facing Dog- Nose or naval
  • Warrior 2- Hands (typically the front hand)
  • Dancer/ Standing Bow/ Lord of the Dance Pose- Hand going forward
  • Balancing half-moon- hands (thumbs) or to the sky
  • Seated forward bend- toes
  • Boat pose- up to space
  • All twisting postures- to the left or right depending on which way / how you’re twisting
  • Meditation- third eye 
 
In general, our drishti follows the stretch. In a backbend, we look to our third eye to let the head roll back. In a twist, we look to the side that most helps our back keep straight alignment. Practice drishti with a soft gaze. Relax your eyes and the muscles in your face. Drishti shouldn’t be uncomfortable, and you shouldn’t overthink it. Eventually it will come naturally to your practice, and some days might be more focused than others. That’s okay! 
 

But what about the mirrors?

Mirrors may change your drishti or point of focus. For example, in standing bow (a one legged balancing posture), I often am still looking over the hand going forward, but I’m looking at my middle finger in the mirror to help me balance. Or in eagle pose, Garudasana, the drishti is the thumbs, but in a room with mirrors you might look at your thumbs, or your hands in the mirror.

Mirrors in a yoga room are meant to help you find your best alignment, but sometimes if you’re in the back row someone might set up in front of you. This is a great time to practice your drishtis without the mirror, or to practice some poses with your eyes closed (third eye drishti).

Sometimes you might choose a point of focus in the room to help you balance- a weird spot on the wall, your mat, etc. which is not technically a drishti, but it is helping you maintain your posture and (hopefully) your breath. Try to choose a spot that is not moving. If you focus on another person, and they fall out of a pose, you might fall out too.

Let us know if you start playing with Drishti in your own practice, or would like a workshop!

Now book a class to start practicing!

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