Your Eyes Have Secrets:
The Drishtis of Kundalini Yoga
Unlike most styles of yoga, the eyes are usually closed when practicing Kundalini Yoga.
More accurately, the eyes are not simply closed but are specifically focused inside the body in a gaze or what is termed a “drishti ” or “pure seeing.”
This continual focus of the eyes, or “drishti,” is one of the secrets of success in Kundalini Yoga that is often not fully explored by beginners or even experienced students, yet it is essential to get the results of the practice.
A drishti directs the flow of energy (prana) through the body during asana and activates different areas of the brain during meditation.
The yogis realized that energy follows the gaze of the eyes. That was one reason the eyes are closed by all yoga practitioners during meditation and pranayama – to re-direct the outward moving energy of the eyes internally.
In Kundalini Yoga, the drishti or gaze is generally at the brow point (third eye) with the eyes closed during much of the practice. Kundalini yogis may also focus, when so directed, at the tip of the nose, crown of the head, and the center of the chin.
The different positions of the eyes in Kundalini Yoga (brow point, nose tip, crown of the head and center of chin) create a pressure with the optic nerve that affects different areas of the brain.
Awakening Intuition: The Third Eye Point
When the focus is directed to the brow point (third eye), or slightly above the two eyebrows, the pituitary gland is activated and intuition is heightened. There is a sense of peace and stillness. In Sanskrit, this gaze is also called Shambhavi Drishti, or the gaze of peace.
Focusing at the brow point can be helpful in dealing with glandular disorders and also to access inner guidance or intuition. This is usually the default gaze in Kundalini Yoga unless otherwise specified.
The correct placement of the eyes is not only above the center of the eyebrows about ¼” to ½” but also inward as well at the same imagined distance.
Strengthening Concentration: The Tip of Nose
When the focus is directed toward the tip of the nose, the frontal lobe of brain is strengthened and concentration is enhanced. In Sanskrit, this gaze is some called Agochari or Nasikagra Drishti.
This focus creates new energy pathways in the body and modifies patterns in the brain. It can also be useful for improving memory and concentration, as well as dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Some students initially find this gaze uncomfortable so it is important to let the eyes relax and begin the practice by looking down the bridge of the nose and beyond the tip.
Elevation and Transcendence: The Crown of the Head
When the focus is directed to the crown, or slightly above the top of the head, the pineal gland is activated and there is a sensation of elevation. The higher energy centers of the brain are opened and there is an experience of transcending the physical realm.
Focusing on the crown of the head increases the connection to the spiritual realm and can be helpful when going through major life changes. Pain relief can also be obtained as the boundaries of the physical body are transcended.
The eyes are completely relaxed so they naturally roll upward and back as if looking at a point four inches above the scalp.
Balancing Emotions: The Bottom of Chin
When the focus is directed toward the bottom of the chin, the emotional body is affected. The result is a cooling, calming, and centering of the emotions. This focus is good for dealing with all emotional disorders and upsets, and to reduce hypersensitivity and paranoia.
This area is a little difficult to locate and is easier if you let the eyes relax and droop or fall down toward or beyond the chin.
While a drishti can be described as a fixed focus, the eyes should be soft as if looking through the object of the gaze. It is a transcendent and unforced awareness that looks beyond the surface to the inner essence. There should never be any strain in the eyes, neck or face.
Beginners often make the mistake of trying to force the gaze prematurely, as if staring or glaring, instead of letting it develop naturally. Hold the gaze as a place to rest, trying not so much as to see but to be.
In your next yoga class or home practice, discover one of the secrets of Kundalini Yoga and let your eyes lead you into an experience of “pure seeing” and being fully present in your moment of transformation.