As a former professional figure skater, if there is one thing I am good at, is balancing on one leg.
I wouldn’t say that it came naturally to me; it was definitely a combination of hard work, repetition, and most importantly, being willing to fall…a lot.
As I transitioned from figure skater to yoga practitioner and facilitator, I learned that one of the main reasons to practice yoga is to bring ourselves into balance, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
In many asana-focused practices like Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Power, and Slow Flow yoga (just to name a few popular ones) there is often a standing section incorporated into the sequence where yoga poses on one leg will be explored.
In this article, we will explore 9 yoga poses on one leg for you to play around with that are reminiscent of figure skating moves.
Remember that using props and support is always a great idea, especially when first getting started with practicing yoga poses standing on one leg.
In this article:
- Benefits of practicing yoga poses on one leg
- Warm up asanas for yoga poses standing on one leg
- 9 yoga poses on one leg
- A fun and challenging balancing yoga sequence
- Making yoga poses on one leg more accessible
Benefits of practicing yoga poses on one leg
Balancing postures and sequences can be challenging (not only physically, but mentally), and they are a great way to practice your boundaries, as well as consider the idea of having a little fun and not taking yourself too seriously.
Here are some of the main reasons to give some of these yoga poses on one leg a try:
- Practicing yoga poses on one leg helps improve proprioception, the ability to sense your body’s position in space, and enhances your balance and stability.
- Balancing on one leg requires you to engage your leg muscles, especially your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, which help strengthen your legs and improve overall lower body strength.
- Balancing on one leg challenges your core muscles, including your abs, obliques, and lower back muscles, helping to build a strong and stable core.
- Holding a pose on one leg requires focus and concentration, which can help improve your mental clarity and the ability to remain present & in the moment.
- Practicing yoga poses on one leg can help increase flexibility in your hips, hamstrings, and spine.
- The challenge of balancing on one leg can increase energy levels and reduce stress by promoting mindfulness and relaxation.
Warm up asanas for yoga poses standing on one leg
Before getting on the ice for practice sessions and competitions, I always made sure I warmed up. When wanting to explore yoga poses on one leg, you must make sure that you warm yourself up properly first.Even though each specific yoga asana will require a different warm-up, getting the lower body and core ready is paramount.
Here are some warm-up poses before you practice yoga poses on one leg:
- Child’s Pose to stretch the tops of the feet, hips, and spine.
- Hero’s Pose with toes tucked to stretch the feet.
- Mountain Pose to find stability
- Downward-facing dog to warm up the feet, ankles, and legs.
- Chair pose to work on the ankles, legs, and core stability and strength.
- Padahastasana to feel and stabilize the feet and warm up the back of the legs.
9 Yoga poses on one leg
Inspired by some of the most popular figure skating moves, here are a few yoga poses on one leg for you to try:
Please, keep in mind that not all poses are for everyone, and to adapt and modify them as you’d like.
1# One-legged Mountain Pose (Eka Pada Tadasana)
Just like when first learning to skate, it is imperative that we begin by developing and working on the foundation.
When practicing a one-legged mountain pose, you’ll build strength on the standing foot, ankle, leg, and hip, as well as develop an awareness of what your balance is like at any given time, in a safe environment.
2# Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
A great yoga pose on one leg that will help you build stability, strength, and concentration is Warrior III.
The only one of the three warrior poses that stands on one leg, this balancing posture can be used as a peak pose for your practice, but it is also a great asana to warm up the body for other challenging balancing and strengthening postures.
3# Toppling Tree Pose (Baddha Dekasana)
Sometimes also known as bound airplane pose, this is a yoga pose on one foot that can be very playful and fun, and that can remind us of what, in figure skating, is known as a spiral.
The main difference between warrior III and toppling tree is:
In Virabhadrasana 3, the entire body and the free leg remain parallel to the ground and the free foot is flexed, and in this asana, we begin to tip the upper body down, while keeping the spine extended, and the free leg can start to rise diagonally.
4# Standing Split (Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana)
Standing split is one of the yoga poses on one leg that requires the most flexibility in the hamstrings.
We encourage you to warm up your legs, hamstrings, and hips well before practicing this posture, in addition to your regular warm-up.
This yoga posture relates to some spin variations. Check some cool ones out here.
5# Hand to Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)
This is a one-legged yoga posture that is quite similar to the Y-spin in figure skating.
Look at some unique examples and variations of spins and spirals here.
6# Dancer’s Pose (Natarajasana)
A backend as well as a balancing yoga posture on one foot, Dancer’s pose can be practiced using a belt to have easier access to the free foot.
This asana is also reminiscent of a popular skating move and spin popularized by Denise Biellmann.
7# Tree Pose (Vrkshasana)
An iconic yoga pose that requires stability, balance, and hip flexibility, tree pose is a great one for young figure skaters learning to find the axis for their spins and jumps.
The standing figure four yoga pose helps to stretch and open the hips, improving your overall hip mobility.
This can help to reduce hip pain and discomfort, especially for people who sit for long periods or have office jobs.
For new skaters learning the sit spin, this is a great yoga posture to practice.
9# Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
Half moon pose and the figure skating spiral are similar in that both require balance, strength, and flexibility.
While the half moon pose keeps the front of the body facing sideways, and a skating spiral keeps the chest facing down and the spine arched, in both poses, the core muscles must be engaged while maintaining balance and extension.
A fun and challenging balancing yoga sequence
If you want to put some of these figure skating-inspired yoga poses on one foot, try this YouTube class.
Making yoga poses on one leg more accessible
There are ways to explore these yoga postures that make them more accessible and can allow a wider range of people to try and play with these yoga poses standing on one leg.
Here are a few ways to make these asanas more accessible:
1# Use a Wall
Practicing one-legged yoga poses can be challenging, but using a wall as a support can help.
As you gain confidence and your balance improves, you may want to try gradually moving away from the wall.
2# Use a Block
A yoga block is an excellent prop to help with balance during one-legged poses.
Begin by standing with the block in front of you and then placing the free foot on the block to experience the sensation of shifting the weight to one foot, with less risk.
3# Use a Strap
A yoga strap is a valuable prop to help you maintain stability during certain one-legged poses.
4# Practice off the Mat
Practicing on a yoga mat can help with grip and stability; it provides a non-slip surface, to balance on.
However, depending on the thickness and material of the mat you’re using, practicing yoga poses on one leg may feel more stable on solid ground.
5# Take it Slow
Finally, it’s essential to take your time and enjoy the process.
Take a moment to ground yourself before lifting off; focus on the breath and on aligning your body properly, and try to have a little fun!
Practicing yoga poses on one leg offer many benefits for both the mind and body.
Like figure skaters, these poses require concentration, focus, and body awareness as well as a certain ability to remain calm while sometimes feeling unsteady and out of balance.
By practicing these poses, you can develop a greater sense of confidence and mental clarity both on and off the mat.
For more balancing poses to try and play with, read this article next.