One leg circle is about stillness and focus. It’s easy to just swing the leg around and make the biggest circle that you can, but this is Pilates, we need some concentration and to remember that we work from our core, tighten those abs and keep them locked in.
Once you bring in those principles, your one leg circle is much more challenging. Are both parts of your pelvis sitting evenly on the mat as you move the leg? Are you just circling at the hip joint or are your toes wiggling too? Before I stopped to really think about this exercise, I’d often move through it so quickly that I didn’t really notice things like my shoulder blades moving around on the mat.
This exercise tells us a lot about our hamstrings too. Ideally both legs are straight in this exercise, but, I often see the circling leg half bent at the knee and sometimes the leg on the floor is clearly straining (and causing rocking and rolling at the pelvis) because that hamstring is tight too.
None of this is a problem, Stott Pilates exercise programmes are designed for modern bodies; there are modifications to accommodate those of us who have tight and imbalanced muscles as a result of sitting at a desk all day. If you are doing this exercise at home, listen to your hamstrings and bend the knees if you need to. That’s going to let you focus on the muscles that you really need to work in the one leg circle; at the top of the thigh. There, that’s less painful and more enjoyable, isn’t it?
How should it look? As if you are drawing a circle on the ceiling with your foot, or knee, if you are modifying. It looks effortless, as though your leg were separate from the rest of your body.
How should it feel? You should have a sense of freedom within the hip socket as you move the leg in the circle.