Definition - What does Drishti mean?
Drishti is the yogic practice of focussed gaze, used as a means of developing concentration. It can help to enhance focus during asana, pranayama or meditation, and aids in the withdrawal of the senses for a heightened sense of self-awareness. The term drishti is Sanskrit for “eyesight” or “vision,” and the practice is believed to help cultivate insight and inner wisdom through the third eye.
Although drishti relates to the fifth of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), it is not explicitly mentioned in the Yoga Sutras. An early reference to the practice occurs in the Bhagavad Gita, in which Krishna instructs Arjuna to "hold one's body and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose."
Drishti can also be referred to as dristi, drshti, or dristhi.
Yogapedia explains Drishti
Gaze is vital to concentration since when the eyes move, the mind and attention follow. It is easy to become caught up in distractions when looking around a room, so the practice of drishti enables the practitioner to engage in a one-pointed focus.
Control of attention is a fundamental principle of yoga and meditation practice, as a means of stilling the fluctuations of the mind.
Drishti was popularized with the introduction of Ashtanga yoga, in which there is a gazing point for every asana. The practice can also be found in several other styles such as Vinyasa, Iyengar and Sivananda yoga, and it is central to trataka, a form of meditation in which the gaze is held on a candle flame.
Within asana practice, there are nine different categorizations of drishti:
- Nasagrai drishti: the nose tip (standing forward fold)
- Bhrumadhye drishti: the ajna chakra, or between the eyebrows (fish pose)
- Nabi chakra drishti: the navel (downward-facing dog pose)
- Angusthamadhye: the thumb (upward salute pose)
- Hastagrai drishti: the hands (triangle pose)
- Parsva drishti: the right side (Bharadvaja's twist pose)
- Parsva drishti: the left side (All twist poses)
- Padayoragrai drishti: the toes (seated forward bend)
- Urdhva drishti: upward (warrior one pose)
Practicing drishti not only helps to improve concentration and alignment during asana practice, but it can also heighten mental clarity off the mat. Drishti can be interpreted as a philosophical concept, relating to an individual's point-of-view, intelligence and wisdom. As such, drishti involves conscious seeing, through which the individual looks past the screen of prejudiced beliefs to understand the nature of the true self. In this sense, drishti can help practitioners to connect with higher levels of consciousness.
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