Yoga Workout on the Exercise Ball

If you enjoy yoga, there are plenty of ways to shake up your usual routine. One is adding new tools to the mix—a superb option is using an exercise ball. An exercise ball gives your body a different kind of support to help you increase balance and flexibility.

The stability ball is a great way to get extra support for moves that require endurance and flexibility, and it also adds a balance challenge to some poses. The lack of stability only adds to the workout, firing up different muscles and strengthening the connective tissue that supports the joints of the body.

The size of the ball makes a difference and you may want to use a smaller ball for some movements. Take your time with these moves and use extra support when needed.

Yoga on the Exercise Ball

Woman stretching on exercise ball on promenade
Image Source / Getty Images

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses, conditions, or other concerns.

Equipment Needed

An exercise ball, a mat, and a flat surface to work on.

Using the Exercise Ball

  • Avoid or discontinue any exercises that cause pain or discomfort.
  • Perform the exercises as shown, completing one to three sets of each exercise.
  • Take your time with the moves, and prop the ball against the wall or a sturdy surface if you feel wobbly. If you have a step riser, you can also put the ball on that so the ball doesn't move. Some poses are more challenging than others, so use your best judgment and set the ball aside if you need to for safety.

Rolling Squats With the Ball

Stand with feet hip-distance apart and the ball in front of you. Tip from the hips, keeping the back straight and abs in, and put your hands on the ball. Squat, sending the hips straight back, and, keeping the knees behind the toes, roll the ball out as far as you can, stretching the arms and chest. Inhale and straighten your knees while rolling the ball back in. Repeat for 10 reps.

Upward and Downward Facing Dog

Put your ball on the mat and come down to your hands and knees with the ball in front of you. Lean your torso into the ball, rolling forward until your hips are centered on the ball, legs straight out behind you. Press your hands into the ball and inhale as you push your chest up and straighten the arms, looking up in an upward facing dog position.

Exhale and roll forward, placing your hands on the floor and pushing your body up into an inverted V position, arms and legs straight and heels pressing towards the floor, as in a downward dog. Position the ball so that your chest and upper thighs are supported, if possible. If the ball is a larger size, you may need to do this move without the ball.

Inhale and move back into upward dog, alternating each position for 10 reps.

Downward Dog with Leg Lift to Lunge Stretch

In the downward dog position with the ball supporting your chest and thighs, inhale and lift the right leg straight up until it's in a straight line with your body. Hold for one breath, lower the leg, and swing it down to the floor, knee next to the ball. Lean your hips into the ball for support and sweep your arms overhead.

Hold for three to five breaths, then lift the back knee off the floor, using the ball to support the hips. Hold for three breaths and repeat the series on the other leg.

Seated Spinal Rotation

Sit on the ball and, if you need more stability, make sure the ball is against a wall. Extend your legs straight out in front, wider than your shoulders. Flex your feet and raise your arms up and out to the sides at shoulder level.

Sit tall, and, keeping the back straight, rotate your torso to the right and reach the left arm out and towards the right foot. Feel a stretch in the hamstring and feel your core contract. Rotate back to center and then to the left, reaching for the toes. Continue rotating, concentrating on lengthening the spine. Repeat for 10 reps on each side. 

Seated Stork Pose

This move can be very challenging, so you might want to do this on a chair or prop the ball against the wall for some support. You can also sit sideways to a wall and hold on for balance.

Sit on the ball and cross the right foot over the left knee. This will require you to balance on the left foot while the ball moves, which is very challenging. When you have your balance, bring your palms together in front of your chest. Inhale and slowly take your arms up overhead, leaning forward to deepen the stretch if you can. Again, this will challenge your balance even more, so modify as needed to stay safe.

Hold for three breaths, lower, and repeat on the other side.

Warrior I to Warrior II and Side Angle

Get into a lunge position on the ball, right leg forward and the left leg straight out behind you, foot flat. You should essentially be sitting on the ball. Square the hips forward and sweep your arms overhead and slightly back. Hold for three breaths ,and then lower the arms and turn the body to the side, stretching through the arms. This is the Warrior II position and you should feel a stretch in the inner thighs. Hold for three breaths.

From there, lower your right arm and place the hand on the floor while stretching the left arm straight up. You should still be supported on the ball. Hold for three breaths. Repeat the series on the other side.

Torso Rotation

For this one, you'll be on your hands and knees with the ball next to you. This move is very challenging on the inner thigh, so your ability to do this may depend on how flexible you are.

On the hands and knees, raise your right leg straight out to the side and put the foot on the ball. You should be resting on the left knee, with the right leg straight, the knee facing the front of the room.

If you feel comfortable doing so, gently rotate the spine and take the right arm straight up, turning your head to look up at that hand while the left arm stays on the floor. Hold for three breaths and switch sides.

Prone Scissor Kicks

For this move, start on your knees with the ball in front of you. Lean forward onto the ball and roll forward until the ball is under your hips and torso and you're resting on your forearms. Your legs should be straight out behind you.

Keeping your feet flexed and on the floor, slowly open your legs wide, focusing on the outer thighs. Bring them back together in a scissor motion while keeping the abs contracted. Repeat for 10 reps.

Bird Dog on the Ball

For this exercise, you'll be on your hands and knees, but with the ball under you. Begin kneeling in front of the ball, and then lean into the ball and roll forward just a bit until your hands are on the floor as well.

If your ball is too big for you to put both hands and knees down, try this without the ball.

Lift your left arm straight up and then the right leg, and hold for a beat. Lower and repeat on the other side, lifting the right arm and the left leg. Continue, alternating sides for 10 to 12 reps. 

Child's Pose

Kneel in front of the ball and slowly sit back on the heels, hands resting on the ball. As you sit back, roll the ball forward, relaxing your head and stretching through the chest. Shift your hips to the right, and gently roll the ball to the left to stretch through the back, repeating on the other side. Hold each stretch for 15 seconds.

Forearm Balance

This is another very challenging pose where you'll be holding your position with only your forearm, hip, and legs. Start by positioning yourself with the right hip on the ball, upper body resting on the forearm. Your legs should be straight and stacked on top of each other, resting on the outside of the left foot.

If you feel able to, find your balance and slowly lift the left leg up while taking the left arm straight up to the sky. Hold for three breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Bridge on the Ball

Lie on your back, resting your feet on the ball with your knees bent. Pull your abs in as you inhale to slowly roll the spine off the floor, pressing your feet into the ball, and bringing your body into a bridge position. Use your feet to keep the ball from rolling around. Hold for a beat and then exhale and roll the spine down onto the mat, making continuous contact with each part of the spine. Repeat for 10 reps.

Lying Hip Stretch

Lie on your back and rest your right heel on the ball, knee bent at 90 degrees. Cross the left foot over the right knee and use the foot on the ball to gently roll the ball in, pushing out on the left knee to stretch the left hip.

This is similar to a figure 4 stretch, only you're using a ball. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."