6 July 2019 by Quinn Taplin
How do you find your focus in yoga? Simply practice and commitment. A good and easy to understand foundation is to start with your breath. A tuning in of the breath linked with body movement; one breath to one movement as if breath-posture were not separate from each other, yet one entity. For example; Exhale samastithi stand straight, inhale raise your arms above the head, exhale forward fold uttanasana, inhale lift your head and engage your core and extend the spine, exhale jump or step back to chatturanga. Once you understand the concept of linking the breath with an engagement of movement, then your practice serves as powerful tool for gaining a better understanding of body awareness. Breathing also allows you to send consciousness to areas of tension you may be holding onto in your body. The result is a sensation of softness beginning to arise.
To add in the technique of drishti, or eye gazing requires a more advanced focus that enhances the attentiveness of the mind. To incorporate dirshti into each posture requires a more advanced practice. Once you are consciously tuned into each exhale and inhale, you can start to layer on the drishti. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, drishti is directly coupled with dharana and dhyana which are the sixth and seventh limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. In this case dharana works on cultivating a focus on a single point to prepare for meditation. In the Ashtanga yoga method, there are nine drishti points.
The first, Angusthamadhye drishti rests on the middle of the thumb, Nasagra drishti rests on the tip of the nose, Hastagre drishti rests gently on the hands, Parsva drishti looks either to the left or right side of us, Urdhva drishti looks up or outward, Nabhi Chakra drishti brings the gaze to the center of ourselves, the navel, padayoragre drishti brings our gaze to the feet, Bhrumadhye drishti directs our eyes to the middle of the brow at the third eye center.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
Our drishti helps to steady the afflictions of the mind, find physical stability and enter more deeply into ourselves. To put it more simply, driving your eye gaze to focus will slow down your racing thoughts. Dhyana is the last of the yogic limbs of ashtanga before diving into whats called Samadhi, or integration as I like to call it. So you can see why it’s important to add drishti to your yoga instrument box.
Yoga is simply an outlet to practice focusing for our daily lives. This learned focus through asana and meditation practice can evolve into your daily life. It is simply an outlet for focusing on daily tasks, whether it be chatting with a friend or doing your laundry. Just as your focus for one hour in your daily asana practice, you can apply the same amount of focus to any task in the moment. This is a practice yet whence the power of conscious concentration is discovered, then the light begins to peak through on new levels in all areas of your life.