Yoga is a family of ancient spiritual practices originating in India. It is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy. In India and across the World, Yoga is seen as a means to both physical health and spiritual mastery. Outside India, Yoga has become primarily associated with the practice of asanas or postures of Hatha Yoga.
In the United States the American Fitness Professionals & Associates offers Yoga Certification for intructors.
Yoga is a form of exercise that stems from Eastern religions based on mediation. Because of yoga's origins, many of the words used in atypical yoga session are Sanskrit, and beginning yoga students may have a difficult time remembering their meanings. One such word is "drishti" and as you become a more advanced student, you will learn the power of drishti, or view. Most yoga teachers stress that drishti can help improve your posture during poses, and it can also help you with your meditation practices as you learn to use yoga for this purpose. By understanding the power of drishti, you can better understand how yoga works on both physical and spiritual levels.
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Buddha, who is estimated to have lived 563 to 483 BC, is believed to have studied what was known of yoga at that time as part of an extensive education in Hindu philosophy. It is also very likely, given the rapid growth of Buddhism after his death and before the Bhagavad Gita was composed, that Buddhism had some influence on that work. There is a considerable overlap between the Hindu yoga tradition and Buddhism.
Ancient yoga teachers and practitioners found that wherever your gaze lies, your attention follows. Have you ever heard the expression, "Keep your eye on the ball"? This is the same principle. In yoga as a religious practice, as well as to benefit our health, the ultimate goal is to calm the mind. Yoga seeks to relieve the stress of your mind by helping you focus and thinking more clearly. By fixing your gaze on a single point (a drishti), you can hone the skills you need to bring your mind to a single point as well. Drishti seeks to block out external distractions so that the mind is wholly focused on itself.
When meditating, a good drishti would be your breathing. If you keep your eyes open as you meditate, you can also use an outside source, like the tip of you nose or the flame of a candle. When practicing yoga, simply choose a point in the room on which to fix your gaze and your mind. Choose something you can naturally see as you do the pose. This can be very helpful when holding poses for an extended period of time. For beginning students, the drishti will be the instructor. Remember that as you advance, your understanding of the use of drishti will advance as well.
Drishti should not strain the eyes or interfere with your pose or routine. If you are religious, a religious symbol, such as a picture of a Hindu God or the Christian cross can be effectively used as drishti. Some types of yoga have specific drishti that are used for specific poses. For example, during downward facing dog, you would fix your gaze upon your navel. You instructor should be able to further explain the use of a drishti and give you recommendations on what to use for specific poses.
Michael Saunders edits a site on Yoga and Health and maintains a Website on all elements of prosperity and abundance