It’s day five of mysore practice, and the little lessons just keep on coming. Yes, I’ve been given a few more poses (all the wide-legged forward folds today…lots of “where do I put my arms again?” moments), but there are learning opportunities to be had outside of the asanas as well.
I had heard the term “drishti” before, but the concept seems to be emphasized more in Ashtanga than in other yoga practices. Drishti is simply a gazing point, something on which to fix your attention during an asana. For example, in Triangle Pose, the drishti is the upper hand; in forward bends, it usually the big toes. All said, Ashtanga yoga uses nine specific drishtis, all of which correspond to particular poses.
Since learning more about them a mere five days ago, I’ve found that the asana doesn’t feel complete until I’ve fixed my attention on the appropriate drishti. And more than complete the pose, using a drishti really allows me to hone in on my own practice, as opposed to gawking at the much more accomplished Ashtangis around me. I think we’ve all been guilty at one time or another or sneaking a peek at our neighbors, either to check out their pose or their yoga attire (I admit it: I dig yoga clothes). But working towards a drishti allows you to recenter and to focus on what you’re trying to accomplish. Plus, it’s more difficult to be satisfied with your block-supported wide-legged forward fold when the gal next to you is doing the full splits. Or maybe that’s inspiring? I don’t know. Either way, the practice of using drishtis has personalized my practice, helping me to come back to me.
Interested in learning more about drishtis? Check out this article from Yoga Journal.