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Drishti for the Holidays with Mara Branscombe

For some of us, the holiday season may be overwhelming as our focus gets pulled in many directions. With never ending to-do lists, the pressure to spend more money, and the overconsumption of most things, the result may be feelings of imbalance, interrupted sleep patterns and being energetically drained. What if we could intentionally direct our attention to improve our energy and focus on what is important? Finding a focus or a “Drishti” can do just that.

Cultivating a steady eye gaze, or “Drishti” is a core aspect of the (Hatha) yogic tradition. As the mind fluctuations becomes less, and the senses draw inward, the practitioner draws their awareness to their inner experience - as opposed to focusing on the external environment. The art of practicing with a clear “Drishti” takes time and patience. At first you may observe your eyes darting with your thoughts, or find your eyes gazing like a deer in headlights as your mind races or daydreams—we have all been there! Yet overtime, one can train their soft eye gaze on certain body parts or places in the room in each specific pose.

There are nine different Drishti’s in the history of the Hatha Yoga tradition.

  1. Nasagrai: the tip of the nose
  2. Broomadhya: the third eye
  3. Nabi Chakra: the navel
  4. Hastagrai: the hands
  5. Padhayoragrai: the toes
  6. Parsva Drishti: to the far left
  7. Parsva Drishti: to the far right
  8. Angusta Ma Dai: the thumb
  9. Urdhva Drishti:  to the sky

If we take our yoga “Drishti” off our mats and into our holiday season, we can welcome in some of the yogic principles of staying focused on what is important to us to rekindle the joy, the light, and the reciprocity of giving and receiving—which is the essence of this time of year.

In addition to bringing your traditional yoga “Drishti” into your day-to-day life, here are other rituals and habits that will help you focus on what’s important this holiday season:

  1. Upon waking up, state your three gratitudes and welcome in a way of being both inside and out. For example, I am peaceful. I will hold of the essence of peace within today.
  2. Take time for self care. Whether it be exercise, yoga or spending time in nature, do this before your holiday preparations and you will make wiser choices.
  3. Reign in your personal boundaries. Notice when you are overwhelmed, overtired, or you are feeling imbalanced and practice the art of saying “no thank-you” to events and activities. This is very much like practicing Drishti on your mat!
  4. Practice random acts of kindness, can you donate any warm coats to those who not have enough, or can you volunteer some time this year to feed those in need?
  5. Drink Chamomile tea before bed and rub lavender oil on your feet. Good sleep is everything as we all know.
  6. Observe when you are purchasing gifts or acting in ways that do not align with your inner beliefs. It may be time to purchase less, to create gifts, or to gift others with your presence.

When we have some structure or boundaries around us, we are more likely to speak our truth, give and receive from a place of love, and welcome in the alchemical magic of the holidays. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Christmas this season, may you remember that the essence of these traditions is to rekindle the light within, to share love unconditionally and to honour the season that leads us from inner reflection into outward expansion.

Mara Branscombe
In her yoga teachings, Mara weaves together her background as a dance artist, her practice in the shamanic tradition, and her twenty years of experience on her mat – naturally what arises is a fluid, earthy, full bodied practice. Currently, Mara hosts international yoga retreats, 
offers online courses, fuses yoga and corporate leadership to executive teams, teaches professional athletes and artists, mentors yoga teachers and teaches classes/workshops. Mara is a mother of two in Vancouver, BC. Find out more about Mara on her website at www.marabranscombe.com.