The Power of Drishti (Eye Focus) in Kundalini Yoga

Close-up image of an eye of a young woman in makeuSo often in Kundalini yoga meditations or kriyas, we are told to focus our eyes on a specific point.  We might shut our eyes and focus on the brow point (the space between the eyebrows), roll our eyes up to the crown chakra or down to the chin, focus our eyes on the tip of the nose or a few inches past the tip of the nose, keep our eyes open, or hold them 1/10th open.  What is the purpose of these eye focuses?

Called Drishti by ancient yogis, it is the science of eye focus.  Meaning “pure seeing”, drishti is to the eyes what asana is to the body.  Correct drishti helps keep the body in the correct posture and the mind focused on the task at hand.  Eye focuses direct prana in the body.  Correct drishti is important, so when you are reading your Kundalini yoga kriya, you should take care to follow the eye focus instructions.  There are examples where it is said that improper drishti is harmful (such as in shoulder stand, where you should not look left or right, but at the chest).

Eye focus varies from practice to practice.  In Ashtanga Yoga, there are 9 focal points.  In Kundalini yoga, eyes are most often shut, but when specified include the eye focuses already discussed.  Beginners often make the mistake of trying to force an eye focus.  Correct drishti never involves straining the eyes.  If you are called upon to focus on the tip of the nose and this hurts your eyes, more practice is required for the muscles around the eyes to get into perfect posture as it were.  So simply relax the gaze slightly and meet yourself where you are at that time.  Increase the strength of your gaze as your practice deepens, just as you would increase the strength of your pranayama, the length of holding a pose, or deepen into a pose.

What are the meanings of specific eye focuses?

Brow Point — This gaze stimulates the pituitary gland, strengthening intuition.  It also affects the sushmuna, which is the central column along the spine through which prana flows.  When you consciously move prana through your chakras along the sushmuna, you are building up your aura, also called the 8th chakra by Yogi Bhajan.

Tip of the Nose — This is Agiaa Chakra Bandh, and in addition to being a drishti, it is a lock within the body.  Locks are kind of like complex dam systems that direct the flow of energy throughout the body in very specific ways.  It stimulates the pineal gland and the frontal lobe of the brain, creating new pathways in the brain.  It can be very challenging for beginners, as there is pressure placed on the optic nerve.

Chin — This is the moon center gaze, and like the energy of the moon, it brings cooling and calming energy.  It also is very reflective, allowing introspection.

Crown chakra — Focusing the gaze on the crown chakra, or tenth gate, stimulates it to open.  It also affects the pineal gland.

1/10th open — Here your eyes are relaxed and unfocused.  This gaze is balancing and calming.  A favorite of the Buddha, it allows your system to remain open to the effects of the particular meditation you are performing.

 

More information about Drishti and many other amazing aspects of Kundalini yoga, check out the book “One Heart, Four Seasons” by Susan Quaglia Brown.

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Ramdesh Kaur, MA, is an IKYTA Certified Kundalini Yoga teacher trained by Gurmukh. She writes extensively on yoga, spirituality and mantra. She hosts the show "Spirit Voyage Radio with Ramdesh" on Unity FM, one of the Top 100 Itunes Podcasts, and leads Spirit Voyage's 40 Day Global Sadhanas, which bring together 20,000 meditators from 65 countries. Before working with Spirit Voyage, she was the residential Kundalini yoga teacher at Parmarth Niketan in Rishikesh, India in the Himalyan foothills, and has a Master's Degree from the Courtauld Institute in London. She is the author of "Yoga and Mantras for a Whole Heart" with Karan Khalsa and has three best selling guided meditation CDs "Journey into Stillness", "Relaxation Meditations", and "Stress Relief Meditations" (with crystal singing bowl master Ashana) all available on Spirit Voyage, ITunes and Amazon. She teaches at festivals internationally and leads powerful personal creativity retreats in Mexico with her partner Harnam Singh, an accomplished mantra musician. www.ramdesh.com

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