In a yoga practice the Sanskrit word 'drishti' refers to our gaze or focus and can also mean a vision, a point of view, intelligence and wisdom. Applying drishti in a the physical poses can make the difference between finding balance and wobbling or falling over but it's benefit reaches far beyond the mat. Whether you're new to yoga or have been practicing for years, learning to apply a steady drishti can benefit our lives both on and off the mat
Drishti helps us to focus on a single, steady point during balancing postures that can help to balance us physically. If our gaze is wandering all over or settles on something that is moving, we will not achieve our goal. Off the mat, if we do not know what we're working towards in life, we lose sight of our goal, or if the goal keeps shifting we will not find stability or progress in the direction of our dreams.
STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE:
In challenging poses like half moon, a steady gaze to the earth can help us balance, though once we feel stable we are encouraged to challenge ourselves and shift the gaze to the top hand. If you're safe and stable with the downward focus point, you may feel uncomfortable shifting the gaze and be afraid of falling out of the pose. Practicing this uncomfortable shift helps us off the mat as it encourages us to challenge ourselves even if there's a chance we could fail. It encourages us to shift from our comfort zone to pursue something we're reaching for, even though it may feel uncomfortable and difficult.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE:
Often in life we get fixed in our ways and in our ideas of how things are. The yoga mat is a great place to shift our perspective by turning the world upside down in a forward fold or downward facing dog. Off the mat this encourages us to dare to look at things from a point of view.
DON'T LOOK BACK:
In a crow pose, if you look back at your feet it's likely that you'll land on your head with a bump. In this pose we learn how important keeping our gaze just in front of us is so that we can move forwards into it. Off the mat, if we focus only on the past and things that are behind us, we are unable to find lightness in the moment or move forwards in life.
STAY IN YOUR LANE:
Sometimes in a yoga class, whether you're new or familiar with the practice, there is temptation to glance at other yogis in the room and compare. This can start a mental whirlwind of either self-defeating or egotistical thoughts about your own abilities compared to others. This is an opportunity to practice staying in your lane. Yoga is not about being 'good at' or 'bad at' poses, and comparisons in yoga (and in life) do us and others a disservice. It's important that we keep focused and humble. Drishti in this instance encourages us to ditch the comparisons and focus on ourselves and our own path.
When we feel bored our gaze and our focus can wander. In yoga this can happen when a class is slower than you had wanted, or the study for the day is on a pose that you've become complacent in. This is an opportunity to use the steady drishti and focus on the moment to find contentment or joy in the little things in life. This helps off the mat to maintain focus whatever the task, as the big achievements in life happen through the (sometimes slightly boring) work done consistently every day.
Our thoughts like to wander, as does our gaze. Use drishti on the mat to practice to still the gaze and be present in the moment, resisting and retraining the wandering mind. Off the mat, allow this practice to help you connect more deeply with the people you interact with daily, focusing on them and the moment rather than running an unassociated internal dialogue.