Drishti (point of focus) increases awareness

School of Yoga explains drishti or point of focus


Yogacharya Sundaram demonstrating Nasikagra Drighti

Drishti is that aspect of asana which ensures increased awareness of the practitioner by making him focus on a single point when performing any asana. 

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. 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 (drishti) is important in asana practice.

What is gazing (drishti)?

In Yoga, drishti is as important as breathing (pranayama) or correctness of pose (sthiram = firmness and sukham = comfort) for multiple reasons;

  • First, drishti is a precursor to bringing control to the consciousness (chitta). This is because, when we practice steady gazing, the consciousness (chitta) begins to lose its fluctuations, agitations and unsteadiness. Slowly, it becomes steady and serene. This allows the practitioner to be more effective at meditation practice (dhyana).
  • Secondly, drishti increases the power of concentration. This results in increased single pointed focus (ekagrath) which helps during meditation (dhyana).
  • However, it is absolutely vital that the gazing (drishti) be tranquil and steady but not intense or stressed as this will tire the practitioner and stress the brain.

There are about nine drishtis, points of focus when performing asanas.

  1. Angushtamadhye – अङ्गूष्ठमध्ये – gazing at center of the thumb

Asanas which use angushtamadhye are veerabhadrasana and trikonasana.

  1. Bhrumadhye – भ्रूमध्ये – meaning center of the eyebrows

The ajna-chakra controls the amygdala, a critical component of the limbic system which controls breathing, emotions, behaviour, memory and motivation. Focus at the center of the brows is considered to ensure control over the ajna-chakra and the endocrine organs. 

Asanas which use bhrumadhye-drishti are padmasana, sukhasana and siddhasana.

  1. Nasagre – नासाग्रे – meaning tip of the nose.

The movement of the diaphragm determines the speed with which the air crosses the septum during inhalation. The septum is a venturi-like part of the nasal system. 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.

Asanas using nasagre-drishti are all seated asanas which lead up to meditation (dhyana) such as padmasana, sukhasana and siddhasana. Generally, one is advised against using this gaze (drishti) in any asana, kriya (action) or bandha (holding) pose because of difficulty in applying focus.

  1. Hastagrahe – हसतग्रहे – means taking the hand as in marriage, referring to palm or tips of the hand which seek or reach out.

Asanas using hastagrahe is pincha-mayurasana.

  1. Parshva – पार्श्व – means the side.

This is an asana 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. This drishti is very good for energising the ajna-chakra.

This drishti is used in a variation of Trikonasana.

  1. Urdhva – ऊर्घ्व – means above, aloft or upwards.

This drishti is used in bhujangasana, dhanurasana etc.

  1. Nabhichakre – नाभिचक्रे – center of the navel

This drishti is used in padahastasana and paschimotanasana.

  1. Padayoragre – पाडयोरग्रे – Gazing at the tip of the toes.

This drishti is used in sarvangasana and vipareetha-karani

Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning)Stress and Situational AwarenessPrana Asana Overview 2PranayamaHatha Yoga Pradeepika

External Links: Pancha TattvaPancha PranaPancha Kosha

Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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