Drishti and Dharana

Gaze (Sanskrit, Drishti) and Concentration (Sanskrit, Dharana).

Each yoga posture, or asana, has a drishti. Your drishti can range from numerous points of focus: down the bridge of your nose, navel, finger nail, non-moving point in front of you, etc. etc. Choosing a drishti aides in alignment.

For example, in Downward-facing Dog (adho mukha svanasana), your heart melts towards your thighs; therefore, gaze works towards the navel. For the most part, beginners start by gazing at their toes or between their feet. Drishti aides alignment in this posture by giving the yogi a direction in which to focus.

Challenge your drishti and your balance, close your eyes! Intense.

Drishti also helps with concentration (dharana); for both asana and meditationDharana is one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. Simply, it means to concentrate with out interruption from internal or external disruptions. This is helpful in an asana practice because without drishti and dharana the mind chatter runs wild  (What did she just say? My muscles are starting to shake, when can we release? Boy, it’s getting hot in here! Remember to pick up milk on the way home. Hmm, wonder when I will be able to walk the dog. Did I fold the clothes in the dryer?). Seriously, I’ve been there! So, what do you do? Come back to your breath – long inhales, slow and steady exhales. Find your drishti with soft eyes and dharana will follow.

Okay, you do all of this…. what’s the point? Yoga means to ‘yoke’ or union. Union of opposites to create balance; union with our divine selves. This union is obtained by the Eight Limbed Yogic Path:

  1. Yamas (moral restraints)
  2. Niyamas (observances)
  3. Asanas (postures)
  4. Pranayama (breath)
  5. Pratyahara (turning inward)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (union with Self via mediation)

Don’t worry, the 8 limbs are coming in a blog post near you! 😉

Taking yoga off the mat.
My favorite part! You spend an hour breathing and moving with complete focus. You roll up your mat and toss it in the car. What happens next is important… did you take those principles with you? Or did you leave them on your mat? Hmm… What happens when you get cut off in traffic or become frustrated at work? Come back to your breath, focus, and concentration will follow. When we lose focus, we become frustrated, then our body and mind become stressed. Thumbs down to that! Have compassion for yourself, these things take practice and patience. You always have a choice to react differently.