In yoga, the Sanskrit word drshti (drishtee) is seeing, or inner vision. It also refers to the act of gazing at a focal point. Practicing drshti can be as simple as choosing a spot on the wall to look at to help maintain our balance in a yoga pose. Eventually this external gazing turns into gazing inward, perhaps concentrating on our intuition or heart center. To focus means to steady ourselves, to direct our attention, to concentrate.
Concentration is a limb of yoga (Dharana). It’s just as important as practicing asana/postures. Without concentration, we cannot meditate, and we lose out on the first goal of yoga, which is to steady the chitter chatter of our minds.
To concentrate, we reduce the distractions that surround us. Through drshti, we temporarily narrow the scope of our vision. We temporarily put on blinders so that we can have a deeper experience with one thing rather than a broad experience of many things.
In yoga asana class, discipline yourself to keep your drshti gaze, no matter what posture you are in or how you are moving to / through them. Be aware of the room and other practitioners, yet narrow your focus, keep your eyes still and relaxed, gazing at one spot. Work to also keep your body still between postures and during postures. Lessen your fidgeting – for yourself, and also for other practitioners. Yogis work to limit our negative impacts on others – our movements, our words, our actions. Be rigorous, self-disciplined, and compassionate with yourself.
In this way, we begin to direct not just our attention, but also our lives. The more we practice concentrating and paying attention, the easier it becomes. We learn we can sharpen into focus, and then go back out broad with our level of awareness. We become very efficient, because our minds stay still while we perform the task at hand. We begin to tether ourselves to this deep well of peace within us, no matter how hectic things are around us.