The other day, a student asked me for help with her foundations in headstand. I asked her to show me how she was doing it, and she did. Yes, her arms and head weren’t quite right, but her spine…
That was a thing of beauty. So straight and long. Nothing, as a matter of fact, like mine when in headstand. But then again, her tadasana is nothing like mine either.
See, I have increased lumbar lordosis. Or a wicked anterior tilt of the pelvis. Or swayback. Call it what you will, it’s all the same thing, and it’s structural. I am just made that way. Witness:
It looks like I am sticking my ass out, right? Well, I do have a bootylicious behind, of this I am aware. But the shape of my spine contributes greatly to that sticky-out-ness too. It doesn’t much matter which way you tip me: the basic shape of my skeleton stays the same.
I’m not quite all the way up in this picture (it’s pretty though, isn’t it?) but you will notice that I still have a big ole arch in my lower back. Yup. Nothin’s changed now that I’m upside down.
Now look at Alison’s alignment in Headstand.
Different eh? When I asked her for a picture of herself in tadasana, she said she didn’t have one, but I could (haha) just flip the headstand pic upside down. And she’s right.
It’s my experience that the asymmetries and anomalies in our bodies show up even more when we are upside down: if you have a scoliosis or rotation of the spine, it shows up more in headstand that when you are standing on your feet.
This is totally fine, as long as you are practising in a way that won’t hurt you (and you do need to learn inversions from a good teacher). What isn’t fine is trying to fit your body into a shape because you saw it in a book, or someone told you that you were doing it wrong because it looks a certain way.
I’m all for ugly yoga, if it’s useful. Just look at my headstand and you will see what I mean!
- Head Stand: turning your world upside down (yogawithnadine.com)
- Find your alignment in Pigeon Pose
- Arm Balance Prep Poses