Halle Berry is the evergreen Oscar winner, who just so happens to be 51 years old. But despite hitting her half-century, she couldn’t look further from being middle-aged.
And one of her latest Instagram posts paid homage to her incredible youthfulness as she stripped down to just a pair of knickers to demonstrate her latest yoga challenge – the headstand.
Her Instagram account is a tribute to the hard work she puts in to keep her body looking trim. Every Friday she posts an inspirational fitness post to her 2.6 million followers under the hashtag #fitnessfriday
And yoga features high on the mother-of-two’s list of exercise methods to keep her body defying both time and gravity.
As well as her brave choice to reveal her body – albeit the back view – she was also challenging herself by doing a pose that she’s clearly not 100% confident with – and she accompanied the post with an inspirational message to her followers as she continued ‘to challenge each of you to try new poses as well’.
And as inspired as I feel by Halle’s sharing approach, I’m just not sure I’ll be sharing my efforts sporting only a pair of knickers – it’s not really fair to anyone else…
Why Headstand is Such a Challenging Pose
Halle Berry isn’t the only person to find headstand, or sirsasana, a difficult pose. After all, it’s not called the ‘King of the Poses’ for nothing.
According to the father of Ashtanga Yoga, Pattabhi Jois, ‘no one should be deluded into thinking that Shirshasana [sic] is an easy asana.’
It’s easy to think that you can just pop your head on the floor, swing your legs up and presto! Thinking like that leads to injuries.
But, when done properly, headstand has the power to turn our pre-conceived ideas on their heads – and also, among many benefits, refresh our memories, help improve eyesight and alleviate depression and anxiety.
However, there are some clear guidelines when it comes to practising this pose safely…
The Dos and Don’ts of Doing a Headstand Outside – and in the buff
The celebrity craze for doing impressive looking yoga poses in exotic locations is not abating. But some would argue against popping up into headstand – on a rock with no clothes on.
In the purist Iyengar tradition, students aren’t taught how to do headstand until they can stay in shoulderstand for at least 5 minutes, have a strong grasp of the standing poses, and attended classes regularly for at least a couple of years. Even, then, teachers are warned to treat this pose with caution.
Sadly, I am also speaking from personal experience on the dangers of al fresco headstands. A few years ago I was doing a headstand in the garden, when a cloud of seeds wafted past, prompting me to sneeze violently while still upside down. The result was a torn trapezius muscle.
Did she Need to Take her Top off?
It seems a bit prudish to make a fuss about Berry’s beautiful headstand. There’s no doubt that her body is fantastic and she’s modeling a pretty good headstand.
But yoga isn’t really about what the body can do and what the body looks like while doing yoga. That rather misses the point.
And despite her plea to ‘talk not just about yoga poses, but also the meditative aspects of yoga’ the photo focuses solely on the yoga pose.
Sure, all of us have done our home yoga practice in our underwear (haven’t you?). It can feel liberating to see the mechanics of our body clearly in each pose and freeing to practice in the nude.
But to be perfectly honest, it’s only vanity that prompts someone to share that intimate practice with 2.6 million followers.
Real yoga happens on the mat, in the corner of our bedroom, with our clothes on. That’s where real inspiration happens.
Next time, Halle, show us the real yoga.