Drishti (yoga)

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Drishti (Sanskrit: दृष्टि; IAST:dṛṣṭi; IPA: [dr̩ʂʈi]), 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]

In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, each asana is associated with one of the 8 focused gazes, namely Angusthamadhye (thumb), Bhrumadhye (eyebrow), Nasagre (tip of nose), Hastagrahe (tips of hands), Parshva (side), Urdhva (up), Nābhicakre (navel), and Padayoragre (tips of feet) dṛṣṭi. In some other styles such as Sivananda Yoga, less use is made of dṛṣṭi, and fewer types are employed.


The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define eight limbs of yoga but do not mention dṛṣṭi. The sixth limb, dharana (concentration), however requires holding one's mind onto an inner state, subject or topic.[3] The mind can for example be fixed on a mantra, one's breath, or a part of the body such as the navel or the tip of the tongue. This is an internal concentration of attention, not a gaze.[4][5]

In the Bhagavad Gita VI.13, Krishna instructs the hero Arjuna to "hold one's body and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose".[6]

The 1737 Joga Pradīpikā uses the same two dṛṣṭi, Nāsāgre and Bhrūmadhye, requiring their use with each of the 84 asanas described in the text.[7]


Styles of modern yoga as exercise such as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga and Sivananda Yoga make differing uses of dṛṣṭi.[8][9][10]

In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga[edit]

In Parivritta Trikonasana the gaze is directed to the tips of the fingers, Hastagrahe dṛṣṭi.

Each yoga āsana is associated in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga with a particular dṛṣṭi.[8] There are eight dṛṣṭis (counting both Pārśva Dṛṣṭis, left and right sides, as one).[11][12]

Dṛṣṭi Sanskrit Gaze at Used in
Aṅguṣṭhamadhye अङ्गूष्ठमध्ये[13][14] Thumb Sūrya Namaskāra vinyasas; Ūrdhva Vṛkṣāsana, Utkaṭāsana, Vīrabhadrāsana I[15]
Bhrūmadhye भ्रूमध्ये[16][14] 'Third eye', between eyebrows Sūrya Namaskāra uses it on the inhale following Uttānāsana, during Ūrdhva Mukha Śvānāsana, and again on the inhale after Adho Mukha Svānāsana.[15][17][18]
Nāsāgre नासाग्रे[19] Tip of nose Many asanas, e.g. Sūrya Namaskāra, Samasthitiḥ,[20] Uttānāsana and Caturāṅga Daṇḍāsana; transition from Vīrabhadrāsana A to Ūrdhva Mukha Śvānāsana[15][18][21]
Hastagrahe हसतग्रहे[22] Tips of fingers, or palm of hand[23] Utthita Trikonasana, Parivritta Trikonasana[24]
Pārśva पार्श्व[25] Side (left or right) Utthita Pārśvasahita,[26] Marīcyāsana C,[27] and Marīcyāsana D[28]
Ūrdhva ऊर्घ्व[29] Upwards Upaviṣṭha Koṇāsana B[30][31] and Ubhaya Pādānguṣṭhāsana.[32][33]
Nābhicakre नाभिचक्रे[34] Navel Adho Mukha Śvānāsana[35]
Pādayoragre पाडयोरग्रे Toes Paścimottānāsana[36][37] sequence and Jānu Śīrṣāsana[38][39]

In Iyengar Yoga[edit]

Iyengar Yoga rarely speaks of dṛṣṭi, but in its instructions for some asanas tells the practitioner to look in a certain direction, for example upwards in Trikonasana and forwards in Virabhadrasana II.[9]

In Sivananda Yoga[edit]

Sivananda Yoga makes use of two dṛṣṭi, namely Nāsāgre and Bhrūmadhye, for tratak exercise (a purification) rather than in asana practice.[10] Vishnudevananda cautions that 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.[40]