Post By: Vishwanath Iyer Published on: December 24, 2016 Reading time: 4 minutes
Dṛṣṭi is that aspect of āsana which ensures increased awareness of the practitioner by making him focus on a single point when performing any āsana.
Background: Our desires start from gaze. We look, register, judge and decide. Unfortunately, decision-making comes with bias, so we end up liking or disliking the object. Consequently, this agitates us and we end up losing our peace of mind.
Can we look without de-stabilising our peace of mind? Yes, with practice, and this is why gazing (dṛṣṭi) is important in āsana practice.
In Yoga, dṛṣṭi is as important as breathing (prāṇāyāma) or correctness of pose (sthiram = firmness and sukham = comfort) for multiple reasons;
The ājñā-cakra controls the amygdala, a critical component of the limbic system which controls breathing, emotions, behaviour, memory and motivation. So, focus at the center of the brows is considered to ensure control over the ājñā-cakra and the endocrine organs.
The movement of the diaphragm determines the speed with which the air crosses the septum during inhalation. Additionally, the septum is a venturi-like part of the nasal system. In fact, the entering air moving through the septum, a venture and this determines the operating temperature and pressure of air in the nasal passage. Therefore, focus on the tip of the nose is important for regulating speed and quality of air flow (ensuring non-agitated, steady and peaceful breathing) into the body.
Āsanas using nāsāgre-dṛṣṭi are all seated āsanas which lead up to meditation (dhyāna) such as padmāsana, sukhāsana and siddhāsana. Generally, one is advised against using this gaze (dṛṣṭi) in any āsana, kriya (action) or bandhā (holding) pose because of difficulty in applying focus.
Here, the practitioner gazes at the palm or tips of the hand which seek or reach out.
Āsanas using hastagrahe is pincha-mayurāsana.
This is an āsana by itself, requiring the practitioner to look to the corner of the eyes on either side. Generally, the head has to be kept in straight ahead position and only the eyeballs must move. Also, this dṛṣṭi is very good for energising the ājñā-chakra.
This dṛṣṭi is used in a variation of trikonāsana.