In the Ashtanga yoga practice, the eyes are kept opened. In the same way, like when we drive a car, a motorbike or a bike, we look at the road in the direction where we are going, otherwise… we have an accident.
The gaze in Ashtanga Yoga is the path towards plenitude…
«Oh yogi, do not practise the āsana(s) without dhristi…» Vāmana Ṛṣi Yoga Korunta
Drishti, is the concentration/focalisation of the gaze on a point on the body during the execution of a posture which is held during several breaths.
The benefits of Drishti in the asana practice :
Improves the direction of the nervous flow
Gives movement to the connective tissues (tissues that envelope our muscles, also called fascia)
The first verse (sloka) from Yoga Korunta mentions the 9 drishti :
The tip of the nose « Nasagrai »
Between the two eyes (3rd eye) « Nétriore ma diai »
The navel « Nabit chakaam staté wad chã »
The middle of the hand « Hastha grai »
The middle of the foot « Padãyour grai »
A point situated in the horizontal right « Parsvai yur ho béyur hãpi »
A point situated in the horizontal left « Parsvai yur ho béyur hãpi »
The thumbs, hands together in prayer « Angusta ma diai »
Look at the sky (gaze upwards) in the vertical line of the eyes « Urdhva drishti hi »
” The yogi focuses his/her visual energy between the two eyebrows, with equal time in the inhale and in the exhale that go through the nose, master of his/her sensitive, mental and intellectual faculties, the Wise (noble-minded) reaching towards liberation, his/her ultime end, is separated from desire, from fear and from anger; he is freed forever.” Bhagavad Gītā, V, 22/28
In the yoga tradition, there are several muscle positionings (Bandha).
The first control is « Mūla », the pelvic floor, the base.
The second control is « Uḍḍiyāna », the abdominal floor .
At the end of the exhale, (when your lungs are completely empty)
Stretch the space between the iliac crests and the ribs
Stretch the transversals, the obliques (inner and outer) and the lower abdominals
Not to be confused with the position « Uḍḍiyāna bandha» that is not a breath, but a stop to the breath.
The best position to learn and deepen uḍḍiyāna & mūla bandha
This ” abdominal control ” can be experienced very easily in the posture « Adho Mukha Svānnāsana » (the dog position with the head down) in sūryanamaskara. This position is held during five deep breaths.
Together « Mūla Bandha & Uḍḍiyāna » represent a safety system that protects the body thanks to its actions on the lower body fascias (reciprocal tension of right and left fascias).
This set participates to controlling the energy in the body (Prāṇa)