Single Leg Circle - Everything You Need to Know

The Pilates Single Leg Circles – Building Your Skills with this Basic Ten Pilates Exercise 

This incredible exercise is the forth exercise that Joseph Pilates introduced in his book Return to Life Through Contrology. It is also one of the first exercises performed in most lessons and classes on the mat. The Single Leg Circle is the third exercise performed in the Basic 10 Pilates Exercise Routine. In previous blogs we have looked at The Hundred and The Roll Up. The Single Leg Circle is a great exercise for several reasons including providing the benefits listed below. 

The Benefits of the Pilates Roll Up:

·      Connecting your breath to movement. 

·      Improved hip mobility.

·      Stabilizing lower back and spine. 

How to Perform the Pilates Single Leg Circle

1.    Start lying face up on the mat with legs long. Arms long on the mat, with palms down.

2.    Reach one leg long towards the ceiling. The foot is slightly pointed and the leg has a slight external rotation. The other leg is reaching long on the mat with either a pointed or flexed foot. 

3.    Inhale and start bringing the leg across the body. Circle the leg down towards the floor and back over the body and back up towards the ceiling. Do 5 repetition in this direction.

4.    Reverse the circles. Reach the leg to the ceiling. Inhale as the leg circles out from the body, down towards the floor, across the body and back up towards the ceiling. Do 5 repetitions in this direction. 

What to Look for in Single Leg Circle:

1.    Check in that your breath is part of the movement. 

2.    Watch that you aren’t tucking or tilting your pelvis when you do the circles.

3.    Try not to let your leg open too far when circling.

4. Don’t let gravity control the movement. You are in control of the movement of the leg.

Modifications for Single Leg Circles:

1.    If you can’t straighten the leg, you can bend the knee as much as you need for the pelvis and spine to be stable on the mat. Draw the circles with the knee. 

2.    You can also bend the leg that is on the mat to help stabilize the pelvis and spine.

3.    You can bend both knees.

4.    Make the circles smaller. 

5.    Reduce the number of circles.

The goal is to not perform it perfectly but to successfully do the exercise, so maximum benefits can be achieved. Pilates is a journey and students will experience days when some movements are easier or more accessible than others. Don’t lose focus or get discouraged. The quality of the movement is more important than getting into a specific shape. Keep up the good work with a positive approach and you will experience a healthier and happier mind, body, and spirit! 

Stay tuned for more exercises and tips!

Video of Single Leg Circle