Single Leg Circles on the Mat

Single Leg Circles on the Mat is an all levels Pilates exercise. The goal is to freely circle your leg without disturbing the rest of your body.

  • Difficulty: All levels
  • Equipment Needed: Mat. If possible, a strap and handles. (The mat shown in this video is the Contrology Folding Mat.)
  • Reps: 5 circles in each direction
  • Warning: Listen to your body. When in doubt, leave it out.
  • Questions: Contact us here

Single Leg Circles on the Mat

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Single Leg Circles on the Pilates Mat is an all levels Pilates exercise. The goal is to freely circle your leg without disturbing the rest of your body. If you have access to a mat with handles and a strap you'll be able to reach from your back and use the strap to help reach your standing leg away. If you are using a regular yoga or Pilates Mat then simply press your arms along your side. The more of your body you can anchor the freer your circling leg can be. Also, the more you can reach from your lower back out of your heel and your upper back out through your head the longer you will feel!

Connect your lower back ribs to your mat and hug our outer hip in.

Start by lying on your back, arms long by your side or up on the poles by your head. One leg straight up to the sky and the other leg long on the mat with its foot flexed if possible use a strap. Without rocking your hips or shoulders circle your lifted leg across your body first, down towards the mat and out to the side. Repeat 5x then reverse directions.

As you do the exercise feel that your ribs are pulling into the mat and shoulders pull on your back. If you have a mat where you can press into poles above your head that will help you feel like you are "reaching" from your mid back.

Your mat leg is your standing leg. Feel the glute working hard to maintain pelvis stability. Your hips should not move during the entire exercise. I find that if I reach my second seat long across the room I am able to turn on my hamstrings and seat muscles without hyperextending my knee. Such an easy thing to do is lock into our knees.

This exercise does have some rhythm to it - "Circle around and UP!" The "up" does not mean over your face, but, to the ceiling. Watching that you are not hiking up your hip to do it. If your hips flexors are tight, this will be a challenge. Your "up" might be lower than to the ceiling for a while.

Challenge yourself to keep your flow going and scissor switch your legs while continuing to press your body into the mat.

This exercise has a slight twist to it. You won't see it from a birds eye view but the muscles in the body are creating a little twist and getting you ready for the twists of the lower body that are to come.

Be sure to check out more of my Pilates Mat exercises. I want to help you continue your Pilates Mat training!

Loving this Pilates exercise tutorial? Take weekly online Pilates mat classes with Lesley Logan.

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