WHEN did Drishti come about?
In Krishnamacharya's book Yoga Makaranda 1936, drishti isn't really an issue, it wouldn't be, the chin is down, a light jalandhara bandha perhaps, in almost every posture. Interestingly this is also how Ramaswami teachers, chin down, also reflecting Krishnamacharya's later teaching.
Jois's Yoga mala ( late 50's) still has the chin down pretty much throughout so again he hardly mentions drishti ( chins mostly down in his pictures, up in Sharath's).
David Williams, taught by Jois in the 70's, again chin down.
Sometime since then drishti has become one of the 'essential elements' of the Ashtanga system, 'Tristana- breath, movement, gaze'. Of course it has, once you lift the chin and no longer have that light jalandhara banddha engaged you need to dictate where to look or your eyes and head are wandering all over the shala.
So chin down, drishti not an issue as the gaze is naturally down, chin up, drishti required.
I've no problem with this. I happen to follow Ramaswami's teaching and have my chin down most of the time but would switch to the required drishti points ( assuming I could remember them) if I was in a shala, no big deal.
I'm just curious when it actually changed and why.
It's been bugging me this week because in conference last Sunday Sharath seems to have again been stressing Moola bandha to be held throughout the practice (and even your day) as well as Uddiyana.
Here's the thing, isn't one of the points of Moola and Uddiyana bandha supposed to be that they are locks, stopping the energy escaping one way and then with jalandhara engaged, escaping the other, trapping the energy or prana within.
But if there's no jalandhara........bye bye prana
I'll be honest, I don't really buy the whole energy thing and that aspect of the bandhas, I just don't... as yet. I engage them because practice feels tighter, more focused, more....meditative when I use them, especially jalandhara as in yesterdays primary ( see the pictures on yesterday post).
I should mention here that there seems to be a distinction between lightly and fully engaged bandhas. Taking jalendhara bandha as an example, the chin firmly lodged in the jugular notch, between the clavicles, during pranayama, is clearly different than the...door ajar chin down we find in the asana of Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda. Does it still count as a lock? A semi lock perhaps?
I personally tend to lightly engage moola and uddiyana bandha throughout my practice, the bandhas kind of ticking over, on the back burner if you will, but in certain postures I'll crank them up a bit to medium or fully engaged depending on the posture or my inclination that practice. Here's Krishnamacharya writing about janusirsasan in his Yoga Makaranada,
'While practicing this asana, however much the stomach is pulled in, there will be that much increase in the benefits received. While practicing this, after exhaling the breath, hold the breath firmly. Without worrying about why this is difficult, pull in the stomach beginning with the navel, keep the attention focused on the nadis in and near the rectal and genital areas and pull these upwards...' p80
I take him to be talking about engaging the bandhas here and that it's an option how fully we choose to engage them during asana.
In Vinyasa krama the chin happens to be down
In Ashtanga, currently, it's up and we have the drishti points,
Not saying one is right the other wrong.
For me It's just one of those unsolved riddles, the missing word of a crossword puzzle, that come back and bug you every now and again.
See what happens when I take a rest day