Your Drishti, or focused gaze, is a key tool that you can use to help you through challenging yoga poses. As with many other yoga practices that we train for on our mat, being able to fix your focus – whether physically with your eyes or internally in your mind – is a skill that is incredibly useful off your mat to be able to use in the ‘real world’.
Here are some practices to help you develop your drishti.
Focus your eyes
When we control where our eyes look, we can control our attention with it. Let’s check out the example of a balance pose like Vrksasana (Tree Pose). If your eyes are wandering all over the place, your balance – and therefore your body – are likely going to follow your gaze.
Fix your gaze on something specific that doesn’t move. A spot on the wall directly ahead of you or about a metre in front on the floor. Use even deep breaths to help steady you.
Find another drishti
Fixing your eyegaze on a spot or physical object is one way to maintain focus, but there are other areas to direct your awareness to when you’re in a pose.
In Ashtanga yoga, specific poses are associated with specific drishtis. For example, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) or Bhujangasana (Cobra) you can take your gaze to the tip of your nose. Dandasana (Staff Pose) you can take your gaze towards your big toes.
In meditation when your eyes are closed, you can take your internal focus to Chiddakash, the point between the eyebrows also known as the third eye.
Candle flame gazing
Trataka, or candle meditation, is a specific technique to improve concentration where you sit in front of a candle and spend a period of time gazing with focused attention on the flame.
Set a timer for as long as you wish to practice. Place the candle about a metre in front of you, level with your eyes. If thoughts arise, treat them like clouds floating through the sky – observe them then allow them to pass, and move onto the next thought.
It’s important to remember that with any of these practices, just like the concept of Sthira/Sukha, we’re aiming to be grounded through our focus, but with a soft gaze, not a hard one that causes us to frown, strain or tense up.