Drishti (yoga)

Drishti (yoga)

Focused gaze in yoga

Drishti (Sanskrit: दृष्टि, romanizeddṛṣṭi; pronounced [d̪r̩ʂʈɪ]), or focused gaze, is a means for developing concentrated intention. It relates to the fifth limb of yoga, pratyahara, concerning sense withdrawal,[1] as well as the sixth limb, dharana, relating to concentration.[2]

In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, each asana is associated with one of the 8 focused gazes, namely Angusthamadhye (thumb), Bhrumadhye (eyebrow), Nasagre (tip of nose), Hastagrahe (tips of hands), Parshva (side), Urdhva (up), Nabhicakre (navel), and Padayoragre (tips of feet) Drishtis. In some other styles such as Sivananda Yoga, less use is made of the gaze, and fewer types are employed.


The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define eight limbs of yoga but do not mention the gaze. The sixth limb, dharana (concentration), however requires holding one's mind onto an inner state, subject or topic.[3] The mind can for example be fixed on a mantra, one's breath, or a part of the body such as the navel or the tip of the tongue. This is an internal concentration of attention, not a gaze.[4][5]

In the Bhagavad Gita VI.13, Krishna instructs the hero Arjuna to "hold one's body and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose".[6]

The 1737 Joga Pradīpikā uses the same two Drishtis, Nasagre and Bhrumadhye, requiring their use with each of the 84 asanas described in the text.[7]


Styles of modern yoga as exercise such as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga and Sivananda Yoga make differing uses of Drishtis.[8][9][10]

In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

In Parivritta Trikonasana the gaze is directed to the tips of the fingers, Hastagrahe Drishti.

Each asana is associated in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga with a particular Drishti.[8] There are eight Drishtis (counting the paired Parshva Drishtis on the left and right sides as one).[11][12]

Drishti Sanskrit Gaze at Used in
Angushthamadhye अङ्गूष्ठमध्ये[13][14] Thumb Surya Namaskar vinyasas; Urdhva Vrikshasana, Utkatasana, Virabhadrasana A[15]
Bhrumadhye भ्रूमध्ये[16][14] 'Third eye', between eyebrows Surya Namaskar uses it on the inhale following Uttanasana, during Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, and again on the inhale after Adho Mukha Svanasana.[15][17][18]
Nasagre नासाग्रे[19] Tip of nose Many asanas, e.g. Surya Namaskara, Samasthitiḥ,[20] Uttanasana and Chaturanga Dandasana; transition from Virabhadrasana A to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana[15][18][21]
Hastagrahe हसतग्रहे[22] Tips of fingers, or palm of hand[23] Utthita Trikonasana, Parivritta Trikonasana[24]
Parshva पार्श्व[25] Side (left or right) Utthita Parshvasahita,[26] Marichyasana C,[27] and Marichyasana D[28]
Urdhva ऊर्घ्व[29] Upwards Upavishta Konasana B[30][31] and Ubhaya Padangushtasana.[32][33]
Nabhicakre नाभिचक्रे[34] Navel Adho Mukha Shvanasana[35]
Pādayoragre पाडयोरग्रे Toes Paścimottānāsana[36][37] sequence and Janu Sirsasana[38][39]

In Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga rarely speaks of Drishtis, but in its instructions for some asanas it tells the practitioner to look in a certain direction, for example upwards in Trikonasana and forwards in Virabhadrasana II.[9]

In Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda Yoga makes use of two Drishtis, namely Nāsāgre and Bhrūmadhye, for tratak exercise (a purification) rather than in asana practice.[10] Vishnudevananda cautions that prolonged or incorrect practice may cause problems for the eye muscles or nervous system. Initial practice is often done for only minutes at a time, but is gradually increased to up to ten minute intervals.[40]


  1. ^ Maehle 2011, p. 250.
  2. ^ Maehle 2011, p. 559.
  3. ^ Bouanchaud 1997, p. 149.
  4. ^ Bell 2007, pp. 145–151.
  5. ^ Jha 1907, pp. 94–95.
  6. ^ Life 2017.
  7. ^ Mallinson & Singleton 2017, pp. 89–92.
  8. ^ a b Maehle 2011, pp. 250, 552.
  9. ^ a b Mehta 1990, pp. 22–28.
  10. ^ a b Vishnudevananda 2011, pp. 29–31, plates 5 and 6.
  11. ^ Steiner 2012, p. Legend for the Vinyasa table (bottom).
  12. ^ Maehle 2011, p. 552.
  13. ^ Monier-Williams 1964, p. 8.
  14. ^ a b Monier-Williams 1964, p. 782.
  15. ^ a b c Steiner 2012, p. Surya Namaskara B.
  16. ^ Monier-Williams 1964, p. 770.
  17. ^ Maehle 2011, pp. 878–1224.
  18. ^ a b Jois 2010, pp. 1471–1472.
  19. ^ Monier-Williams 1964, p. 538.
  20. ^ Maehle 2011, p. 785.
  21. ^ Maehle 2011, pp. 785–1224.
  22. ^ Monier-Williams 1964, p. 1294.
  23. ^ Maehle 2011, p. 1474.
  24. ^ Maehle 2011, pp. 1283, 1368.
  25. ^ Monier-Williams 1964, p. 622.
  26. ^ Steiner 2012, p. Utthita Parshvasahita.
  27. ^ Maehle 2011, p. 2661.
  28. ^ Maehle 2011, p. 2633.
  29. ^ Monier-Williams 1964, p. 222.
  30. ^ Steiner 2012, p. Upavishta Konasana B.
  31. ^ Maehle 2011, p. 3074.
  32. ^ Steiner 2012, p. Ubhaya Padangustasana.
  33. ^ Maehle 2011, p. 3232.
  34. ^ Monier-Williams 1964, p. 535.
  35. ^ Steiner 2012, p. Adho Mukha Shvasana.
  36. ^ Maehle 2011, p. 1984.
  37. ^ Steiner 2012, p. Paschimottanasana A.
  38. ^ Maehle 2011, p. 2412.
  39. ^ Steiner 2012, p. Janu Shirshanasa A.
  40. ^ Vishnudevananda 2011, p. 31.


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