If you’ve attended one of our classes at Symmetry Yoga Alameda, you’ve probably heard our teachers refer to something called “Dristhi” (pronounced “DRUSH-dee”). This term means “focused gaze” and it refers to a special Yogic way of looking at the world. This tradition was developed thousands of years ago by the ancients to help them focus intently on their meditative practices. Drishtis were valuable parts of their seated meditation sessions as well as their moving “asana” practice. In some schools of yoga (like Astanga for example) there’s a specific Drishti associated with every pose, but Drishtis are a common addition to classes of other styles too.
Using Drishtis is a great way to maintain balance during standing poses. Symmetry Yoga teachers will often advise students to look down at a spot on the floor in order to ground down with their feet more firmly. This is especially helpful in poses like Tree, where only one foot is on the earth at a time, and stability can be extra tricky!
Drishtis are a useful tool for less advanced poses too. Upward Facing Dog is a great opportunity to use the gaze to support a long, graceful arch of the neck and spine. Seated twists are enhanced by a gentle use of Drishti too, as looking over the shoulder helps stretch the trapezius muscles, and complete the rotation around the central axis of the spine.
Drishtis are also very helpful in avoiding distraction during practice. When we control the direction and intention of our gaze it becomes much easier to stay in a focused, intentional space. When the gaze wanders around the room, we can get caught up looking out the window, at other students, etc. but with a strong Drishti it’s easy to avoid those pitfalls and stay focused on your own practice and meditative intent.
The metaphor of the Drishti is a powerful tool in itself: when we keep our focus on the things that support us in succeeding, the distractions fall away and we find ourselves on a clear path to where we want to be. If you’re excited about taking a step in this direction then head over to the Symmetry Yoga Alameda schedule and pick out a class! Your future self will thank you for it!