Yoga Journal’s upcoming online course, Pillars of Power Yoga, features Leah Cullis, a master Baptiste Yoga teacher who will lead an athletic and spiritual immersion into the 5 core pillars of Baptiste Yoga: drishti, breath, foundation, heat, and flow. Enroll HERE and be the first to know when this fitness- and focus-boosting course launches.
The first pillar of Baptiste Yoga is drishti, which is Sanskrit for focus. While we access drishti physically on the mat by focusing our gaze (you’ve probably heard your yoga teacher talk about using it in Eagle and other balancing poses), it also has possibilities off the mat.
Using Drishti On the Mat
Drishti on the mat means focusing your gaze on one point. When you can focus on one point, you can start to calm your nervous system, hone in on what’s essential in the moment, and awaken your insight from the inside. This allows you to use your inner guidance rather than being distracted by all the stimulation happening all around you all the time. In Baptiste Yoga, we tell students to focus on one spot that doesn’t move, then to soften your gaze. We soften our gaze so that we can be clear about what we’re focusing on, but not fixed and rigid around our vision. We want to see the one point but also be aware of the periphery so we can be open and receptive to life.
Using Drishti Off the Mat
Off the mat, drishti is your higher vision, or as we call it in Baptiste Yoga, your True North. It means setting your own aim as a yogi and incorporating that intention into everything you do on and off the mat. For example, I’ve used drishti off the mat when I was working to heal myself from allergies. My gaze was set on whole health, so what I ate and how I cared for myself were what I put first.
Integrating Your Drishti Both On and Off the Mat
If your higher vision off the mat is that you want to feel and experience more love, then that’s what you align with in every breath and every moment off the mat, meaning at home, during conversations — even the ones you have with yourself. If love is your intention, drishti on the mat might mean taking Child’s Pose or not pushing yourself past your edges. Without drishti you’re just in motion, and burnout can happen. When you are clear in your aim or higher intention, saying no to what doesn’t serve that intention becomes easy.