What is Drishti?

What is Drishti?
Drishti is a Sanskrit word that means "sight" or "view". As a concept, it refers to conscious seeing, through which the individual looks past the screen of prejudiced beliefs. In this way, the Drishti helps one to achieve superior levels of consciousness.
How it's used in physical yoga practice:
When your teacher asks you to focus your drishti somewhere, the "drishti" refers to a specific focal point that is employed during meditation or while holding a yoga posture. Have you ever found yourself going through the motions in a class, or distracted? Finding a drishti to focus on can help you bring yourself back to your moving meditation.
The specific drishti can vary depending on the posture; there are total of nine dristhis in yoga:
  1. Nasagrai drishti: the nose tip (for example, in standing forward fold)
  2. Bhrumadhye drishti: the ajna chakra, or between the eyebrows (fish pose)
  3. Nabi chakra drishti: the navel (downward-facing dog pose)
  4. Angusthamadhye: the thumb (upward salute pose)
  5. Hastagrai drishti: the hands (triangle pose)
  6. Parsva drishti: the right side (Bharadvaja's twist pose)
  7. Parsva drishti: the left side (All twist poses)
  8. Padayoragrai drishti: the toes (seated forward bend)
  9. Urdhva drishti: upward (warrior one pose)
When the gaze is fixed on a single point the mind is diminished from being stimulated by all other external objects. Thus, the use of a drishti allows the mind to focus and move into a deep state of concentration.
In meditation, the most useful drishti points used are the breath and the third eye center. External focal points can also be used, such as the tip of the nose, a candle or mandala. Note: when using a drishti, do not strain the eyes. The muscles around the eyes should be relaxed and the gaze should be soft.
The ancient yogis knew that where our gaze is directed, our attention naturally follows. Although drishti may be a concept we learn through our yoga practice, it is also a good affirmation for life. In the Yoga Vasishta, there is a verse that says ya drishti sa srishti, or "As your vision, so is your universe." You might even say, "The world is as you see it."
This is a beautiful broad concept that goes beyond the mat. Think about it: if your mental "gaze" is focused only on the problems in your life, that's what your mind will also focus on. What are you focused on? If you’ve been spending too much time staring at the negative things, how can you refocus?
In short, a conscious drishti helps us find clarity...both on and off the mat.