Dhristi - Enhancing Focus and Alignment

Dhristi - Enhancing Focus and Alignment

You have to have something pretty to look at while you practice Yoga

The story behind the yoga tights 

In the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, the concept of dhristi, or focused gaze, is of the most important significance. It’s part of tristasana, where you use asana, dhristi and ujjayi breath with bandhas (energy locks) in your practice.  Dhristi, derived from Sanskrit, translates to "sight" or "gaze," and is a fundamental aspect of the eight limbs of yoga outlined in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

Dhristi serves as a powerful tool for enhancing concentration, alignment, and inner awareness during the practice. When you direct your gaze to a specific point, you cultivate a deeper connection between body, mind, and breath, facilitating a meditative state and fostering mindfulness on and off the mat.

In Ashtanga Yoga, each asana (pose) is associated with a specific Dhristi point, guiding the practitioner's focus and attention. For instance, in the foundational posture of Tadasana (Mountain Pose), the Dhristi is typically directed towards the tip of the nose or the "third eye" (the space between the eyebrows). This focal point encourages alignment of the spine, promotes balance, and invites a sense of inward reflection.

Similarly, in more dynamic sequences such as the Surya Namaskaras (Sun Salutations) the first part of Ashtanga primary series, which also functions as a warm up, and check-in, on your body. In Surya Namaskara A and B the practitioner synchronize breath with movement while maintaining a steady dhristi and strong bandhas. This synchronizing of breath, gaze, and asanas fosters a state of flow, allowing practitioners to move with grace and intention. When you’ve done your practice as long as I’ve had, everything comes automatically in the Surya Namaskaras and the asanas also functions as meditation.  

Beyond the physical benefits, the practice of Dhristi cultivates mental clarity and presence. As your dhristi remains steady, distractions fade away, and the mind becomes anchored in the present moment. This awareness deepens your yoga practice and also extends into daily life, it enables you to navigate challenges with a calm and focused mind. So far into my current travels to Mexico, I’ve used dhristi and ujjayi breathing quite a lot because things has not gone as planned. 

While you incorporate dhristi into your Ashtanga Yoga practice you have to have patience and intention. Begin by consciously directing your eyes to the designated focal points for each asana, and notice how it affects your alignment and concentration. With consistent practice, dhristi becomes a natural part of your yoga practice, guiding you towards greater self-awareness and inner peace so you better can handle what life throws at you and are able to see the bigger picture. 

But, while learning to use dhristi in your practice it’s nice to have something pretty to look at. I’ve always preferred to practice in patterned tights and painted my toenails. It’s just nice. Because you spend a lot of time looking at both your feet and your legs. That’s why I’m launching these tights, to help you with your practice. Why I prefer capri tights is something I’ll write about some other time. And,  practice is what’s important, as my guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois said, "99% practice and 1% theory". Keep practicing. 

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