On Competitiveness & the Power of the Drishti in and out of the Yoga Studio
The running joke between my family and friends about me is that, “I just do not SPORTS.” For the entirety of my young life, I can remember my parents, to no avail, signing me up for soccer, basketball, volleyball, swimming, even going so far as hiring me a private golf coach to see if that would click, but it was no use … “I simply don’t sports.”
Much to my parents’ dismay, I lacked the basic hand-eye when it came to activities that featured spherical items and just didn’t grasp the relevance or importance of team sport activities. Furthermore, my active artistic imagination and diagnosis with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) at the age of 9 made opting for pick daisies on the soccer field to make flower crowns much more appealing than participating in the rowdy competitiveness of soccer. That said, I was in desperate need of some sort of physical activity … and it wasn’t until I found ballet and yoga in my young teens that this all changed. Yoga and ballet offered me to ability to move my body in a way that promoted creativity and exercise and the required intense focus I so desperately needed.
Now, this is not to say that everyone’s story of “finding yoga” is the same. Ever find yourself in a yoga class staring at that “yoga master” “semi-pro contortionist” in front of you? Meanwhile you are on your mat barely touching your toes with sweat beads piercing your eyes watching this “yogi prodigy” bend and twist in ways that could only be described as a human pretzel. Many people, especially those who come from a sports background, find yoga extremely frustrating, and leave the yoga studio feeling discouraged and sore. A lot of people who start practicing yoga feel like they are supposed to be perfect and do every single pose in seamless harmony with the teacher’s voice. STOP where you are right now, take one of those long yoga breaths and meditate on the fact that you are NOT alone in feeling this way.
One of greatest and most powerful lessons, I’ve learned from yoga, which admittedly has taken even this non-competitive, un-sporty yogi some time to understand, is the power of the Drishti and the idea that yoga, by definition, is a practice over the course of one’s lifetime, not a perfect.
“Drishti is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘sight’ and refers to the gazing technique practiced while holding a yoga pose. Practicing drishti while performing yoga, supports and improves the practice while creating Self-awareness and focus. It also makes breathing exercises and meditation more productive.”
In human terms, finding your Drishti means getting into a yoga pose and focusing on one, solid, unwavering point in the room and holding that gaze for as long as you can until moving to the next position. LOL! I know what you’re thinking, “easier said than done,” but finding this Drishti makes it impossible to look at “Miss Lulu Yoga Guru” over there in the front row and helps you to focus on what is really important in yoga (and in life): finding peace and strength within yourself. So, whether you are like me and don’t sports (…or maybe you do sports!) or you are that prodigal yogi guru standing on your head with both legs behind your ears in the front row, remember the importance of the Drishti and that yoga is a practice, not a competition between your peers yoga is cultivating a better, more focused YOU.