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Where the Eyes Go

“Where the Eyes Go…”

By Natasha Devalia

Just as in Yoga, Indian Classical Dance too has the concept of outer and inner.

In dance the orchestration, the movements and the costuming are part of the outer life, just as asanas, kriyas and breathing techniques are in Yoga. However, more importantly, or perhaps more interestingly, is the hidden depth of consciousness that may present itself through the long term nurturing and devotion to the practice.

To reach a state of integration and peace, one aspect that needs tackling is the busy mind.  A tool that is common to Indian Classical Dance and to Yoga is using the drishti, or gazing point.  Drishti refers to the place we direct our attention to. By focusing our eyes on one point the hope is to reduce the effects of the active external stimuli, which in turn helps with calming and focusing the mind, and in turn with tapping into the more subtle, inner life.

In Indian Classical Dance, there is a set of eye exercises, the drishti bedaha, that is practiced regularly. The dancer sits cross legged on the floor while moving his/her eyes in different directions. Another way to practice the drishti bedaha is by the dancer following their hands with their eyes while dancing.  The eyes go from side to side, upwards and downwards, diagonally, faster or slower depending on the choreography. This takes concentration and focus.

In the storytelling aspect of the dance the eyes are powerful tools used to express emotions such as sadness, anger, and so on. It takes some imagination, connectedness and depth of emotion to depict a God, a king or a peasant within seconds, with sincerity. A sage in meditation might be depicted with closed eyes.

In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga there is much importance placed on the drishti. Each posture has a specific looking place on which to focus, with the default drishti being the tip of the nose. The prescribed external gaze is the starting point leading the practitioner to a more internal gaze.

The 9 points of focus in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga:

  1. Nasagrai: tip of the nose
  2. Broomadhya: between the eyebrows
  3. Nabi chakra: navel
  4. Hastagrai: hands
  5. Angushta ma dhyai: thumbs
  6. Padhayoragrai: toes
  7. Parsva: far right
  8. Parsva: far left
  9. Urdhva: upwards

where-the-eyes-go

Where the hand goes, the eyes follow,

Where the eyes go, the mind follows,

Where the mind goes, the mood follows,

Where the mood goes, real flavor is born.”
~ Abhinaya Darpana

 

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Where the Eyes Go…
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Where the Eyes Go…
Description
Just as in Yoga, Indian Classical Dance too has the concept of outer and inner.

In dance the orchestration, the movements and the costuming are part of the outer life, just as asanas, kriyas and breathing techniques are in Yoga. However, more importantly, or perhaps more interestingly, is the hidden depth of consciousness that may present itself through the long term nurturing and devotion to the practice.

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