For years I’ve struggled with my headstand. I’ve never been able to set myself up in any sort of satisfactory way, I struggle to get up and feel I have no integrity in my back to support the upward lift when I am up, and bend and sway and never seem to look quite right. Lately, I’ve been working in tripod, which irked my ego a bit to have to modify.
This weekend in teacher training we did a simple exercise to assess everyone’s natural ability – based on bones people..not any sort of strength, will, or dedication – to go up into a classical headstand with hands interlaced behind head. Standing upright we all wrapped our hands behind our head, raising our forearms up and drawing our shoulders down as one does when normally upside down to set up the headstand. Well, soon everyone was sort of staring at me and I was called to the center of the room as an example of someone who’d struggle with headstand.
Clear as day, everyone could see that when standing upright and perfectly aligned, my forearms were nowhere near the level of the top of my head. Meaning that if I was upside down and trying to support the weight on my elbows, forearms and head something would have to give. And it does. When I’m in headstand in a classical form, my neck has to bend to get level with my arms, and my back rounds and everything suffers. No matter how hard I work, I’m not gonna change the shape of my bones (or my massively large head)
Sometimes you have to accept limitations to be able to work through them, and work stronger. If I carried on with the classical form because that’s what the cool kids do, my neck would suffer, and I’d never properly align my spine and never get the full benefit of the inversion.
However, if I work in tripod headstand, I can find a much more level base to raise up from. Why shouldn’t I use it?
Even better for me is to use a gazillion props…or 2 chairs, 2 blocks and a mat against the wall and go up like the picture above. Then I’m perfectly aligned and feeling the effect of the inversion.
There are always options out there to get the benefit of the pose – we just have to be creative enough to find the alternatives and have the humility to accept our limitations.