Drishti (Gaze Point)

Yoga asana (movement) is much more than exercise. If practiced correctly it’s a moving meditation or a relaxation in action. Mindful, intelligent and structured movement is what separates asana from an exercise routine.

An understanding of the 5th limb of yoga “pratyahara” meaning ‘withdrawal of the senses’ is crucial in developing a yoga practice. Pratyahara forms a link between external and internal focus which moves the practitioner to higher states of concentration and meditation.

A technique used to develop focus and concentration is drishti or gaze point (conscious seeing), the drishti established reflects the alignment of the pose, there’s 9 drishti’s relating to various parts of the body, candles and mandala’s can also be used. If your eyes are darting around the room while your practicing your scattering your energy. Establishing drishti allows your mind to focus on a single point without distraction from other external stimulus. Where ever you focus your gaze (drishti) your energy (concentration) will naturally be directed to that place.

I’ve had a few interesting drishti fails in my classes. One person established a drishti on a billboard advertising pizza outside the studio, I realized her mind had definitely drifted from practice when she sat on her mat and ordered a pizza mid class. Another person thought that I was jealous of her because she felt her asana practice was superior to mine. It may well have been true but making that comment is ego driven and indicates a lack of understanding of the body-mind connection.

As you move through the various poses the bio-feedback from your body allows you to discover your inner world. Your trying to make your body comfortable in what you might be finding to be an uncomfortable position. Your assessing whether you can take yourself deeper or do you need to practice a modified version of the pose, do you need to come out of the pose completely, what sensations are you experiencing, where can you strengthen or relax your body, where can you direct your breath, have you established a gaze point.

The aim of asana practice is the body-mind connection, being present, being now! You can’t change the past it’s happened, you can’t live in the future, it hasn’t happened. What you have is the present moment. Yoga offers all the tools to live in the “now” particularly if you take your moving practices beyond the physical

Vrksasana

Body and Mind Connection

Yoga the Body – Mind Connection
The body and mind are inseparable! Whatever happens to your body will be reflected in your mind, whatever happens in your mind will be reflected in your body.
If you suffer from an emotional or stressful blow it will have a subsequent effect on your body, it will show up as tightness, tension, imbalance or a blockage of subtle energy (prana).
If you injure yourself physically it will have a subsequent effect on your mind, sometimes the mental effect of a physical injury is far worse than the injury itself.
The very essence of Yoga practice is to bring the body and mind together as one entity that is focused on and tuned into the elusive present moment.
The conscious and mindful physical movements of Yoga asana (exercise) keep your body healthy creating a dynamic vehicle for you to live your life. Techniques such as meditation, relaxation and breath work (innercise) have been developed to control the incessant stream of self-chatter of the mind, allowing you to find inner peace.
Yoga embraces a wide number of practices that create wellness of both body and mind, to simplify exercise for a healthy body – innercise for a healthy mind, connected through the breath.
To quote James Joyce in his novel the Dubliners “Mr Duffy lived a short distance from his body”, for all round wellness make the body-mind connection.