Technology has shortened our attention span.
With every advancement in technology, with the development of smartphones, and the different social media platforms, our attention span has shortened throughout the years. In 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds. In 2015, it even reduced to 8.25 seconds. Because of the locked-down situation and social isolation during the pandemic, we were bombarded with information from different sources online and this contributed to the increase of anxiety and depression throughout the world. With a short attention span and digital overload, yoga became a popular choice among practitioners to address physical and mental well-being during and post-pandemic.
1.2 Yogas chitta vritti nirodha.
Sage Patanjali defined yoga as the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Later on, we are introduced to the vrittis (obstacles or fluctuations) in 1.9. In order for us to let go of these obstacles, the 8 limbs of yoga (ashtanga yoga) are described further in the succeeding padas (chapters).
Drishti is defined as a gazing point to concentrate, and this is described in the Yoga Sutras (3.1-3.3) and is practised in concentration (Dharana), meditation (dhyana) and the peak of samadhi.
In the asanas, Drishti helps us connect our mind, body and spirit (yoga as a union). This also helps us to hold our poses for several breaths. This deepens our practice and creates a wider understanding of how yoga can go beyond asanas. Drishti helps us ground more, to be steady in our tadasana. It allows us to create a higher sense of awareness of our body and space (proprioception).
In pranayama, having a Drishti allows us to stay present. It adds an anchor to the ebb and flow of our breathing. This continues on to the higher limbs of yoga: concentration, meditation and samadhi.
In Mental Health
There was an increase in the number of practitioners seeking the therapeutic benefits of yoga for well-being since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
While yoga is considered a physical activity (asanas) in the Western World, meditation and breathing became a buzzword and more people subscribed to yoga.
The use of Drishti becomes a starting point, in addition to breathing for practitioners to stay present. Drishti uncomplicates yoga for the sceptic and curious because of awareness through the 5 senses.
With concentration, Drishti may clear the mind of those suffering from anxiety and depression. It lessens the pain of the past and the worries of the future, it brings the mind to stay in the present.
In Injury Prevention
Social media has become a boon and a bane in the promotion of yoga. While it is good to see influencers and celebrities promote the benefits of yoga, this also creates the notion of what yoga is and is not.
Most of the influencers show off their bodies and how flexible they are to do advanced yoga poses that can mislead beginners about what yoga is all about.
That is why Drishti may help in educating spectators and beginners. Again, it creates that sense of awareness and even accountability before leaping to doing yoga poses that are times for clout or popularity’s sake.
Drishti goes beyond what you see. They say, “Where your attention goes, your energy flows,” and so Drishti allows us to channel our Vayu (energy).
As yoga practitioners and teachers, we do not only share the passion for yoga. Yoga can be defined by the eight limbs and even beyond it. If we keep practising with the yogic gaze, we can remove the curtains of obstacles and become observers of ourselves.
By Allan Ray Enriquez
Rehab Yoga Master Trainer & Educator
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