focus your gaze

in asana and meditation, the point of focus for your gaze is known as your drishti (dṛṣṭi or दृष्टि). it is important to choose a steady view-point for your eyes as this has a direct effect on your mind. developing a focused gaze is important in working to let go of distractions, withdraw the senses (pratyahara), and hone concentration (dharana).

some yogic traditions place great emphasis on a drishti from the start, teaching specific gaze points as part of each asana itself. in other styles, the gaze is left as a free-variable and often given less distinction. adding the element of focused gaze to a yoga practice can give the experience a valuable extra dimension.

here are a few simple ways to prepare the body to incorporate a focused view:

gentle eye exercises

sit comfortably with a tall spine and neutral head position. close your eyes and listen to your breath for several moments. when you feel ready, open your eyes and look straight forward. keeping your outer body just as it is, slowly turn your eyeballs to look to the left. be mindful that the rest of the head stays to center, and hold this for a few breaths. on an exhale, very gently turn the gaze back to center. after another few moments, repeat this on the other side, turning just the eyes to gaze to the right. after a few breaths, use an exhale to very gently turn the gaze back to center. when you feel ready, inhale and move your eye focus upward to look at the ceiling or sky, keeping the head facing forward and neutral. when you are ready to release, slowly bring the gaze back to center. stay here for several breaths. finally, on an exhale release the gaze down to the floor without moving the rest of the head. hold here. then, use an inhale to slowly lift the gaze back to center. close your eyes and let them rest for several breaths.

dandasana

dandasana toe focus

sit in dandasana (staff pose) with the legs extended straight in front of you. ground the entirety of each leg as you lengthen the spine. use your hands pressing at your sides to aid in lifting the chest. once you are settled in the pose, bring your gaze to rest at your toes. let go of thoughts or judgments that may arise, and keep your eyes focused. let the focus remain on your toes as the rest of your periphery view softens. stay here for several breaths. when you are ready to come out, blink a few times, lift your gaze, and relax.

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