Drishti (yoga)

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Parshva Drishti in Pashasana by Caroline Klebl

Drishti (IPA: [ dɽʂʈi ]; Sanskrit: दृष्टि; IAST:dṛṣṭi), or focused gaze, is a means for developing concentrated intention. It relates to the fifth limb of yoga (pratyahara) concerning sense withdrawal,[1] as well as the sixth limb dharana relating to concentration.[2]

Description[edit]

Each yoga āsana is associated with a particular dṛṣṭi.[3] There are nine dṛṣṭis (when you count both Pārśva Dṛṣṭi's, left and right sides, as one).:[4][3]

Angusthamadhye[edit]

For Aṅguṣṭhamadhye dṛṣṭi (IPA: [ ɐɳɡuʂʈʰɐmɐdʰjeː ]; Sanskrit: अङ्गूष्ठमध्ये ; meaning "to the middle of the thumb"[5][6][madhye] the practitioner looks to the thumb.

Examples of asanas which employ Aṅguṣṭhamadhyai as their dṛṣṭi can be found in the Sūrya Namaskāra vinyasas; Ūrdhva Vṛkṣāsana, Utkaṭāsana, and Vīrabhadrāsana I use Aṅguṣṭhamadhye as their dṛṣṭi.[7]

Bhrumadhye[edit]

The Bhrūmadhye dṛṣṭi (IPA: [ bʰɽuːmɐdʰjeː ]; Sanskrit: भ्रूमध्ये; meaning "to the middle of the eyebrows/brow"[8][6][madhye]) has the gaze set at the "third eye", which is right between the eyebrows. In order to do this, the eyes are closed half way. This purportedly stimulates the olfactory and optic nerves, consequently awakening the autonomic and central nervous systems. It sooths the cranial nerves and aids concentration, and helps awaken kundalini sakihi. It is advised that caution be taken as prolonged or incorrect practice may cause problems for the eye muscles or nervous system. Initial practice is often done for only minutes at a time, but is gradually increased to up to ten minute intervals. [9]

An example of a vinyasa which includes the Bhrūmadhye dṛṣṭi in its practice is Sūrya Namaskāraˌ wherein the Bhrūmadhye dṛṣṭi is used on the inhale following Uttānāsana, during Ūrdhva Mukha Śvānāsana, and again on the inhale following Adho Mukha Svānāsana (before the final Uttānāsana in the vinyasa).[7][10][11]

Nasagre[edit]

The Nāsāgre dṛṣṭi (IPA: [ nɐːsɐːɡɽeː ]; Sanskrit: नासाग्रे; meaning "to the tip of the nose"[12][-gra][e Loc.]) has the eyes fixed on the tip of the nose. Purportedly strengthens the eye muscles. [13]

In Sūrya Namaskāra, Samasthitiḥ,[14] Uttānāsana and Caturāṅga Daṇḍāsana all employ the Nāsāgra dṛṣṭi, as does the transition from Vīrabhadrāsana A to Ūrdhva Mukha Śvānāsana. .[7][11][15] These are only some of the asanas and vinyasas in which this dṛṣṭi is used.

Hastagrahe[edit]

The Hastagrahe dṛṣṭi (IPA: [ ɦɐstɐɡrɐɦeː ]; Sanskrit: हसतग्रहे; generally meaning "the taking of the hand" or "the putting of the hand to", or (in the context of dṛṣṭi) "to the tips of the hand"[16][-gra][Loc. e]) invoulves looking at the (usually extended) tips or palm[17] of the hand.

Utthita Trikonasana, and its twisted partner Parivrta Trikonasana are two examples of asanas which use Hastagraha dṛṣṭi.[18][19]

Parshva[edit]

Pārśva dṛṣṭi (IPA: [ pɐːɽɕʋɐ ];Sanskrit: पार्श्व; meaning "the side"[20]) involves looking to the left or right side.

The asanas Utthita Pārśvasahita,[21] Marīcyāsana C,[22] and Marīcyāsana D[23] all entail Pārśva dṛṣṭi.

Urdhva[edit]

Ūrdhva dṛṣṭi (IPA: [ uːɽdʰʋɐ ]; Sanskrit: ऊर्घ्व; meaning "above" or "rising"[24]) has the eyes pointing upwards, to the sky.

Some asanas which use Ūrdhva dṛṣṭi are Upaviṣṭha Koṇāsana B[25][26] and Ubhaya Pādānguṣṭhāsana.[27][28]

Nābhicakre[edit]

The navel is the center of focus for the Nābhicakre dṛṣṭi (IPA: [ nɐːbʰitɕ͡ɐkɽeː ]; Sanskrit: नाभिचक्रे; meaning "to the (magical) navel-circle"; the first part of this compound word is "Nābhi" meaning "naval", the second part "cakra" which has come into use in English as chakra.[29][-e Loc.]).

Adho-Mukha-Śvānāsana is an asana that uses the Nābhicakra dṛṣṭi.[30]

Padayoragre[edit]

Pādayoragre dṛṣṭi (IPA: [ pɐːdɐjoːɽɐɡɽe ]; Sanskrit: पाडयोरग्रे; meaning "to the tips of the feet"[-gra][-e Loc.][pāda][-ayo: n./m. Dual Loc.]) is gazing to the toes.

A host of asanas from the Paścimottānāsana[31][32] sequence and Jānu Śīrṣāsana[33][34] sequence all employ the Pādayoragre dṛṣṭi.

Theory[edit]

The source of dṛṣṭis in yoga is limbs five and six from the eight limbs of yoga. The fifth limb of yoga pratyahara concerns sense withdrawal. To avoid the delusion and suffering caused by preoccupation with sense objects as described in the Maitri Upanishad, sense withdrawal is practiced in order to help the practitioner become "centered". According to tantric philosophy, keeping "centered" madhya will eventually suspend the mind and prana, allowing recognition of bhairava, or device consciousness.[1]

The sixth limb of yoga dharana (concentration), includes maintaining dṛṣṭi during yoga practice in order to ensure dhyana meditation will occur.[2]

Variation Between Styles[edit]

There may be differences between different styles regarding how dṛṣṭi is practiced and which are used for specific asanas, however dṛṣṭi is a primary part of at least the Ashtanga Yoga,[1] Hatha Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Raja Yoga traditions.[35]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]