The Power of Drishti
by Claire Berghorst
Quite rightly so, we give a lot of attention to the breath in our practice. We also spend a lot of time looking at our postures and trying to ‘perfect’ them. What about our drishti though? Drishti refers to your looking place or point of focus.
In Ashtanga yoga we refer to Tristana, which means the union of breath, posture and drishti. As we practice we are working towards achieving an even balance between these 3 elements. Why is the drishti so important? Well, if we are looking around the room, we allow our mind to wander, but when we focus the gaze we focus the mind. This is after all a mind body practice.
At a purely physical level focusing on your drishti will transform your postures. When you look down, the shoulders can round and drop, the spine softens. When you lift your chin and look forward you immediately improve your posture by lengthening your spine. Each posture has a specific drishti, which enhances the pose.
Focusing on your drishi can also open up more challenging postures and transitions within your practice. For example, when teaching the Ashtanga jump through, I always instruct students to look forward to ‘where they are going’. Simple, but we can’t move forward when we are looking back.
Whilst it is challenging to focus on breath, drishti and posture at the same time, this is what we are working towards. I find that some days it helps if I focus a little more on one of the elements. Just gently reminding myself and drawing my awareness back as it wanders.
“Practice and all is coming” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
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