During a particular class, Master P says: “Do you know what is gazing? “I am gazing at you” means that I am looking in your direction but I am not looking directly at you. However, I see you. This is what we mean by Dristi. How can you ever look at your belly button in the downward facing dog position? Unless you have… “
With a cheeky smile, the class burst into laughter at the imagination of the impossible.
According to a website, the Ashtanga yoga has 8 types of drishtis:
Nasagrai Drishti – gaze at the tip of the nose
Angusta Ma Dyai Drishti – gaze at the thumbs
Nabi Chakra Drishti – gaze at the navel
Hastagrai Drishti – gaze at the hands
Parsva Drishti – gaze to the side
Urdhva Drishti – gaze upwards,
Naitrayohmadya or Broomadhya Drishti – gaze at the third eye or forehead
(If you like to know where I got them: http://www.yogabasics.com/learn/focusing-on-a-drishti/)
The 8 limbs of yoga consist of Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
During the Asanas, the eyes usually gaze in the direction where the energy flows. The Dristi is connected to the sixth limb, Dharana. For me, it actually requires a great deal of concentration. Train of thoughts about mundane life and issues stopped as the focus change to thinking about maintaining the position correctly while gazing. Although the eye does not stare directly at a spot, it is clearly aware of the existence of where it is gazing towards. This is also related to the fifth limb of yoga, pratyahara. The mind is withdrawn away from external stimulus. As a result, we gained internal focus and harmonious control of our energy.
“Just as the tortoise withdraws its limbs, so when a man withdraws his senses from the sense objects, his wisdom becomes steady,” explains the Bhagavad Gita.
As for my personal experience, I recalled attending a class with issues boggling my mind. I was not in a particularly happy mood as a result. During the yoga class, I did the various Asanas while trying to focus my energy with Dristi. I was momentarily taken off my issues during the practice. Towards the end of the practice, my mind cleared and I suddenly felt that my issues can be easily resolved if I just take a step backwards and stop drilling into them. I smiled. In fact, I was excited. It was actually an amazing moment for me. I never knew Yoga could help me this way.