Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Evolution of Driste

I've been wanting to write about driste but have had so many thoughts on the subject as my practice has changed over the years that I wasn't sure where to start or where to end! I suspect more posts on driste will follow this one. Driste is Sanskrit for "gazing place" in yoga. In Ashtanga yoga there are 9 places you might hold the gaze in asana practice. As most students know, where your gaze goes, your thoughts and body tend to follow. Balance can be tricky if my gaze is on what my husband is practicing next to me or what the birds are doing in the yard. Yet, after awhile, it is possible to shift the gaze in a pose (I'm thinking specifically of utthita hasta padangustasana here. :) and not take your thoughts and balance with it. There was a great post by Karen recently on the evolution of driste in her practice. I think this is a great example of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga overlapping and intersecting. We do asana practice with driste (the third limb) and when we have a moment where the thoughts do not follow the gaze, we experience pratyahara (sense withdrawl) which is actually the fifth limb! So, after learning to keep the senses steady on one sensory input (one gazing point) we can learn to remove the senses from the input entirely (pratyahara). This practice never stops amazing me!

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