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Why Does Almost Everyone Struggle with Side Star?

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

Side Star is one of those beginner moves, that is so difficult and uncomfortable when you start!

acro yoga side star

I don't know about you, but in my own experience, and in my experience of teaching acro, side star is time and again one of the hardest poses to understand and unlock as a beginner flyer.

Even if you're more advanced I'm sure you can probably remember the frustration and difficulty of learning side star.

And can now recognize how easy and effortless it is to fly with more experience and practice.

This is how it is for me at least.

standing acro yoga side star

When I started flying side stars it felt incredibly uncomfortable, painful, and very difficult to stay balanced at all.

Now I can fly it with no problem with relative ease, and even on beginner bases, which I sometimes do when teaching, to help explain the move.

Before we get into the technical aspect of the pose and how to make it easier.

I want to first address why it is difficult, and how this is also representative of many other skills in acro that are challenging to learn.

So let's be clear...

The reason side star is difficult is because it's just a weird position for a human to balance in.

It's not normal, and in almost no other activity in life do you need to balance on your hips, sideways in a weird star shape.

We never do anything like this in our day-to-day lives as humans.

And this goes for most of acro if I'm completely honest.

Balancing someone on your feet is not normal and something that in regular life you never ever do.

acroyoga pose

And the reason I want to stress this is to then have some empathy and understanding with yourself that therefore it is difficult and challenging to learn.

If we compare a side star to foot-to-hand or a chair, or a bird, those are positions that we actually already know and have done at least a bit in our everyday lives.

Chair, being the best example, if someone tells you to sit like you're sitting on a chair, it's of course pretty easy, and therefore easy to fly as well.

My point is that if you're learning a move like side star that is a completely foreign position and something you've never really practiced before, your body will need time to learn and adapt to it.

So be patient.

You didn't learn to walk in 1 day, it takes months as a baby.

The body needs time to learn and adapt the tissues, the neurons, etc.

This is also why someone who has practiced half-moon pose (ardha chandrasana) in yoga, or someone who is a ballet dancer or something where they are used to taking shapes similar to a side star will probably learn it quicker and find it easier.

The reason I'm sharing this and emphasizing it is that quite often I see people get surprised, frustrated, or feel defeated by side star and how difficult it is at first, so I think having this understanding can allow you to let go of those feelings and give it more time.

Anyway, let's get on to a couple of the more technical points of how to fly side star.

1. It's all in the hips baby.

In my experience of teaching side star, 90% of the time the issue resides in the hips of the flyer.

It's absolutely critical to have your hips stacked sideways, vertically on top of one another.

The most common issue is the top hip will hang lower, and so the weight droops off the outside and it just becomes incredibly difficult to hold the shape.

People sometimes give the cue to lift the leg, and this helps, but it's actually the hips that need to move.

Sometimes moving the leg will fix the hip, but I prefer to cue about the side body engagement to lift the hip.

2. Use your booty, it's soft a cushy which helps!

The other complaint flyers have is always about discomfort and pain around their hips.

Your butt can be your savior here.

By rolling to your backside more and bringing the pressure and connection to the butt rather than the front of the thigh/hip you will find much more comfort and ease in the pose.

The front is way more uncomfortable because we have the TFL, the IT band, and other tendons, ligaments, and tough tissues that run through there, whereas the butt has nice comfy and cushy muscles to rest on instead!

I could probably go on and into more and more detail on side star, but I think these 2 points are the most critical, and if you fix them properly you'll be 90% of the way towards an easy, solid and comfortable side star!

acroback acro yoga pillow

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