YOGA FOR THE SUPERMARKET – The Cow Head Pose

 

Here are a few ideas about what to do while in the midst of the din and irritation of everyday living. How can we carry forward an evenness of mind into the supermarket while doing the weekly or monthly shop?

Most of us, I think, have had the experience of shopping in a rush. The store is crowded with people and we are being pushed from all directions. What happens to us under this kind of strain is that our minds go blank, or we get irritated.

We try to grab hold of the nearest commodity, without stopping to think whether we really need it. On returning home we discover that we have bought two packets of soap and not the tea, and it was the tea we needed because we already have enough soap in our cupboard.

What happened was that we lost our equanimity and packed our trolley full of unnecessary articles so that we were able to get out of that store as fast as we could.

The practice of yoga only becomes meaningful if we apply the equanimity we gain from it and take it into every aspect of our daily lives. Shopping in a crowded supermarket is an excellent opportunity to put into practice what we have discovered in the yoga class.

How is this sense of equanimity applied? First get your thoughts in order by making a list of the things you really need. This will help you focus your attention. Now walk in.

If you don’t know the shop very well, stop and look around so that you can get your bearings. Observe what is happening within yourself. Has your mind gone blank? Your breathing, has it changed amidst the noise and the bustle?

Get your breathing pattern established into an even rhythm and then, with your basket in one hand and your list in the other, walk deliberately without letting your attention stray to the articles you have written down on your list.

Having completed this task, take your place in the queue. This too can be a source of irritation. Now that you have everything you need, you want to get out as fast as possible.

Sometimes patience has to be exercised as the queue is often long. Remember that the cashier is doing her best and no amount of irritation on your part is going to get you out of there any faster.

Here too, observing your breathing can help you to centre.

When your turn comes, a warm smile to the hardworking cashier doesn’t cost anything and, who knows, it might even spread the feeling of equanimity to someone else.

Another example that comes to mind is a crowded train. At rush hour there is only standing room. The congestion is intense. There is no room for movement and your body is being swung from side to side.

Here again, observing your breathing can help to smooth away feelings of irritation that may threaten to overwhelm you. Now is the time to breathe slowly and deeply. Listen with concentration to the sound of your breath.

Also make a study of how well you are able to balance, even if you are being thrown about a bit. Focus your attention on trying to stand firmly on your feet and see that, as the train moves, you keep adjusting your balance to the rhythm of the train so as not to fall over.

Use your awareness of this situation as a yoga practice session and this will help you change your attitude of irritation to one of equanimity as you breathe and balance your way to your destination.

THE COW HEAD POSE

  • Sit on a mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
  • Bend your right leg back and place your heel next to your left thigh. Your ankle is bent slightly so that your foot can rest comfortably on the mat.
  • Raise your left leg and place your left thigh over your right one. Allow your left foot to rest comfortably on the mat.
  • Make sure that both heels are as close to your thighs as possible and that your left knee is directly above your right knee.
  • Raise your right arm over your head. Bend it at the elbow and place your right hand below the nape of your neck between your shoulders.
  • Lower your left arm and bend it at the elbow so that you can raise your left forearm behind your back until it is level with and between your shoulder blades.
  • Clasp your hands together.
  • Hold this posture for 30 to 60 seconds, breathing gently. Keep your neck and head erect and look straight ahead.
  • Unclasp your hands, straighten your legs and repeat this pose on the other side for the same length of time, substituting right for left.

Benefits

This pose cures cramps in the legs and makes the leg muscles elastic. It loosens the ankles and gives a gentle massage to the arch of the foot. The chest is well expanded and the back erect.

Asthma and bad posture due to stooped shoulders have received great benefit from this asana. Stiff shoulder joints are freed and given greater circulation of blood.

The Cow Head Pose is a posture of great stillness. Although a fairly simple pose it is dynamic, also helping you to draw yourself into deep concentration. It helps to free yourself from distractions and irritation and restore your sense of equanimity.