By Faye Martins
In Yoga classes, we often hear instructions about where to focus our drishti or gaze while doing postures (asanas). A Yoga practitioner or a new Yoga teacher might wonder how the focus of our drishti impacts our levels of power and concentration when we are practicing Yoga asanas. When our gaze is not focused in any particular direction or point, our level of concentration may be diminished. As a practitioner’s level of concentration is diminished, so is the ability to hold the pose and derive the most benefit from it.
It is frequently the experience of many Yoga students and teachers that where our gaze goes, so does our mind. If we are practicing a balancing posture such as Tree Pose or Eagle Pose, an unfocused gaze and a wandering mind will negatively impact our ability to successfully hold the posture. If you have ever played tennis or golf, the effect is similar in these athletic endeavors. The tennis ball usually goes where you are looking, even if you intend for it to go elsewhere! The trajectory of a golf ball will also follow the arc of your gaze.
In order to maintain your levels of power, concentration and the internal integrity of the Yoga postures, incorporating the practice of focusing your drishti on a prescribed point will amplify your level of concentration and your ability to unwaveringly hold the posture. Let’s take the example of Warrior III Pose. This pose is also known as Flying Warrior. To practice this posture, a student usually links together Warrior I and Warrior II. From Warrior II, he or she leans over the front foot, lifting the other foot off the floor while extending his or her arms out over the end of the front of the mat and perpendicular to the floor. Of course, balancing on one foot for any length of time is challenging.
If a Yoga student focuses his or her gaze approximately six inches in front of the standing leg on a spot on the floor, and holds his or her gaze steady on this spot while practicing the posture, the Yoga student’s ability to concentrate, focus and balance on one foot will be greatly enhanced. Many asanas offer optimal benefits if the poses are held for three to five breaths. Sometimes the poses are held for even longer periods of time. Practicing the recommended drishti or gaze while engaging in asana practice will increase your levels of power and concentration as well as your ability to stay in the postures for an ample enough amount of time to gain the benefits of the asana.
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