Yoga Ball Exercises for Women

For years, gymnast and dancers have used yoga balls to tone, strengthen and improve their flexibility. More recently, physical therapists have begun incorporating them into their rehabilitation and wellness programs. In yoga, they provide additional support for moderate to difficult movements such as hip-openers, backbends and restorative poses. Some yoga ball exercises can provide support, improve your balance and increase your flexibility.

Flexibility & Strength Exercises

For Upward Facing Dog, place both knees on the floor and lean forward on the ball. Roll your body forward until your hips are centered on the ball and both legs are straight. As you inhale, press both hands into the ball and lift your chest up until both arms are straight. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds before moving into Downward Facing Dog.

From your current position in Upward Facing Dog, exhale and roll your body forward, placing both hands on the floor in front of you and pressing your heels into the floor. Make sure that the ball is supporting your chest and upper thighs. Hold this pose for 10 to 15 seconds. Alternate between this pose and Upward Facing Dog for the desired number of repetitions.

For Spinal Rotation, sit upright on the ball and extend both legs out long in front of you. Flex your feet and place both arms out to your side. Keeping you back straight, rotate your torso to the left as you reach toward your right foot. Bring yourself back to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Complete 10 to 12 repetitions on each side.

Endurance & Balance Exercises

For Warrior I, standing over the ball with your left leg in front of you and your right leg behind you, lower yourself into a lunge position. Square your hips forward, inhale and sweep both arms up, reaching toward the ceiling. Hold this pose for 10 to 15 seconds before moving into Warrior II.

For Warrior II, from Warrior I, lower both arms to your sides, making them parallel to the floor. Rotate your hips to the side and hold for 10 seconds. From this position you can move right into the Side Angle or back to Warrior I.

For Side Angle, from your position in Warrior II, bring your left arm down and place it on the floor in front of your left leg. Extend the right arm up toward the ceiling and stretch through the left side. Stay here for 10 to 12 seconds and then return to Warrior II. Repeat this entire series, starting with Warrior I on the opposite side.

Selecting the Right Ball for You

The size of the ball makes a difference, and you want to ensure that you choose the correct size to support your height and weight. For some movements, the instructor may advise you to use a smaller ball than what is recommended for your height and weight. However, as a rule of thumb, when you sit on the yoga ball your thighs should be parallel to the floor and in direct alignment with your hips. If you measure six feet or taller, select a ball that is 75centimeters (32 inches); If you measure between five feet seven inches and five feet 11 inches or over, select a ball that is 65 centimeters (30 inches); If you measure between five feet to five feet six inches, select a ball that is 55 centimeters (26 inches).

Combining traditional yoga poses with the yoga ball allows you to simultaneously engage several large and small muscle groups, giving you a total body workout in less time. These muscle-toning exercises increase your metabolism, burn fat and improve your flexibility, leaving you feeling stronger and calmer.

About this Author

Davita Parks is the owner of DJParks Fitness in Nashville, Tenn. She is a licensed personal trainer and nutritionist, and holds multiple fitness certifications in core and functional conditioning, group fitness, Spencer Pilates, yoga, flexibility training/conditioning, and lifestyle and weight management. Parks has more than 10 years of journalism and publishing experience.