Tolasana or scale pose is a seated lifted arm balance that is often practiced in Ashtanga yoga. Basically, Tolasana is a lifted Lotus pose.
So to achieve this pose, you first need to be able to get into full lotus. If you cannot yet achieve full lotus, you can take a cross-legged position instead. This variation is a touch tricky because is requires much more hip flexor strength.
Note: If you have knee issues, neck pain or shoulder injuries, do not attempt tolasana.
This asana is super great for strengthening the core and learning to engage the bandhas. You will need bandhas like crazy in this pose! Mula bandha and uddiyana bandha in particular will be exercised when practicing tolasana.
To prep for tolasana, make sure the hips are open and ready for lotus. Warm up the abs and hip flexors with Navasana and Crow. Warm up the shoulders and core in advance by taking a few vinyasas and longer-held plank poses.
How to Do It
Getting into tolasana is pretty straight forward: Take lotus pose, put your hands down, lift up.
Let’s break it down a little further:
- Sit on your mat.
- Make your way into Lotus pose (or cross-legged)
- Place the hands on the mat next to the hips. Spread the fingers wide and have the creases of the wrists facing forward.
- As you exhale, press into the ground, spread the shoulder blades away from each other, trying to widen out the upper trapezius muscle.
- Engage mula bandha and start to lift the front of the legs
- Engage uddiyana bandha by scooping the lower abs in and up
- As you exhale, lift yourself off the ground take a deep inhale as you stabilize yourself in the air. Exhale again slowly.
Try to hold for 3-5 breaths and then release.
Tips and Modifications
In order to perfect Scale pose or Tolasana you need to open your hips enough to get into full lotus. Any of the seated postures in the primary series of Ashtanga yoga will be helpful. Additionally, Pigeon, Fire Log pose, and Compass pose will also help prepare the hips for lotus.
Feeing like you cannot possibly lift up off the ground? Don't worry, this is common. Sometimes it feels like our arms are too short or the butt is too heavy. You will get it if you persist.
However, if you continue to struggle with Tolasana, try placing the hands on blocks. This will add leverage to your lift and allow the body to get higher off the ground.
Like most of yoga, this asana requires thoughtfulness and patience. Some people’s bodies easily fold into lotus, while others’ don’t. Some individuals have naturally long arms which will make lifting a touch more accessible. Regardless of your anatomy or strength level, with practice and persistence, Tolasana can become a regular part of your yoga practice.