The Sanskrit name for gaze, a technique often taught during a yoga class when holding a pose or asana. When using your drishti in a posture, it serves as a focal point for you to concentrate on. It can serve as a 3rd pillar of strength in high plank, it can steady your trembling base leg in a standing pose. While this visual technique can help us to focus our energy physically, it also ties in our mental focus. When you are truly focusing on your breath and gaze in a yoga practice, all the noise, worry, and distraction in your head just fall away.
It takes practice and commitment. To incorporate dirshti into each posture requires a more advanced practice. Starting with the breath is a great foundation, and layering on the drishti in poses you are more steady and comfortable in, is a great way to incorporate both forms of focus into your yoga practice.
As a yoga teacher, my classes are led in the breath-posture-cue format. I encourage my students to tune in to their breath and their bodies linking 1 breath to 1 movement.
Inhale tadasana, exhale forward fold, inhale halfway lift, exhale chatturanga.
While I know my students hear the breath cues, I often remind them to return to the breath if we hold a pose longer, or are in downward facing dog taking a few breaths before a big transition. Once you are able to tune into your breath, it serves as a powerful tool to deepen your focus and your practice. It will allow you to breath into postures and send breath to areas of tension you may be holding on to in your body.
Once you are tuned into your inhales and exhales, you can start to layer on the drishti. Find a spot on the wall, your mat, or the ceiling depending on the pose, and gaze there. For example, in tree pose (Vrkasana) as your standing leg is holding up your entire body it may start to tremble. You can neutralize this by steadying your gaze on a point in front of you that is not moving. Driving your focus on this spot will start to slow down any racing thoughts (I’m going to fall!) steady your body into the pose. Once you understand how powerful gaze is for your practice, you can start to incorporate it into more postures.
We have all heard the saying ‘live in the moment’ before, but how do we actually do this in our day to day lives? Yoga is an outlet to practice using focus, and slowly you can bring this focus into tasks like you eating a meal, drinking coffee, or sitting with a friend in conversation. Just as you decide to commit 60+ minutes to your yoga practice, when you decide to take on a task focus on it and make the most of what you doing. It takes practice, but when you find your focus new levels can be reached in all areas of your life.
How do you incorporate focus on and off your mat? Leave a note below…we can all learn from each other.