At beginner level the focus is more on hip mobility but at advanced level it becomes a real challenge and great for strengthening the abductors, adductors and hip flexors.
The exercise is performed supine on a mat. For a beginner both legs are bent, one foot on the mat and one foot off, shin parallel to the floor. Starting with the hand on the knee, guide the leg in a circular motion, inhaling as the knee comes in and exhaling as the knee moves away. Focus on the hip joint being the central point. Change direction and then change legs. As a progression for beginners, remove the hand.
At advanced level it is one of the best exercises to test core strength. The abdominals must work hard to keep the shoulders and pelvis stable while the movement is coming from the hip socket within the pelvis, which is challenging. This level of exercise will also stretch and strengthen the leg muscles. For this level, lay in a supine position, both legs straight, one leg extended toward the ceiling, arms relaxed down by the side. Inhale and start to circle the leg across the body, exhale and complete the circle. Perform the circles in a smooth and controlled manner, repeat in the other direction after 5 repetitions.
Important cues for this exercise are:
To assist with this exercise a resistance band can be placed in the arch of the foot. This will make the exercise easier and good as a warm-up preparatory exercise.
To progress this exercise, increase the range of movement or the number of repetitions.