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How to Do Single Leg Circles in Pilates

Learn how to do the single leg circle Pilates Mat exercise from Core Pilates NYC instructor Sarah Ruback in this Howcast workout video.


Moving on to single leg circles. The point of single leg circles is to start to warm up your hip. We'll be getting into a lot more work that incorporates movement through the legs. But while we move the legs or the arms we have to always consider what's stable. In this case for single leg circles, we work on the stability of the pelvis. While you have a moving part, you're thinking of that, but mostly your thinking about what's not moving because that's your powerhouse. That's your core.

So for single leg circles start by bending your right knee in toward your chest and extend your right leg toward the ceiling. Your toe will be pointed and the leg is turned out, like a little V here in the foot. The foot on the mat is flexed and parallel.

From here, circle your right thigh into the left thigh, straight down, and right back up. Circle into your inner left thigh and right back up. And just continue here.

So it's a half circle. It's not a full circle. In the beginning we keep things within the frame of our body and always within the frame of the mat because we're working on that control.

Now the breathing, inhale as you circle. Exhale to stop the leg at the top. That's it. So you'll do about five of those. Then reverse this, Madeline. Inhale, lower. And exhale, lift. That's it.

So the breath works with the body to engage the core. If you are engaged in your core, you'll feel a sense of length from your hip all the way to your toes. So it's a full body event. One more time, Madeline.

Now from here flex your heel, turn it parallel, and lower your leg to the mat with control. You have options about how you want to bring your leg up and down off the mat. In general if it's a straight leg up or down, that's more challenging for your abdominals so you do that if you're an intermediate or advanced client. If you're a beginner, you'll want to bend your knee through so you're more supported and then extend it.

So let's do the other leg. Bend the left knee in toward your chest and extend the leg toward the ceiling. And we'll flow it this time, Madeline. Inhale, circle into the right thigh and exhale, lift. Inhale, circle and exhale, lift. Remember way back to the warm ups with our rib cage breathing and rib cage arms. These back bottom ribs are still unstable. Now reverse. Inhale and exhale, lift. And up. That's it. For three. And two. Last time. Reach the leg up. Now flex the heel, engage your abdominals, and float your leg all the way back down to the mat.

And that's single leg circles.

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