Scale Pose (Tolasana or Tulasana): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Scale Pose (Tolasana or Tulasana) - sharp muscle
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Updated: April 6, 2023

Scale pose, also known as Tolasana or Utthita Padmasana, is an arm balancing pose that strengthens the shoulders, wrists, abdomen, back and hips while stretching the muscles of the arms, thighs, and hamstrings.

The pose is an intermediate level posture that belongs to the balancing pose category, it creates fire in the body, focuses the mind and brings balance to the practice.

In this pose, your body weight is balanced on your arms, so it is quite challenging to lift your body off the floor to achieve this pose.

The pose performed with a conscious, steady awareness of the breath can bring about a deep sense of connection, power, and wisdom. Using your arms to prop yourself up in the air brings a sense of liberation, control, and mighty power that can be felt.

Information

Known as:Scale Pose, Tolasana, Utthita Padmasana, Tulasana, Raised Lotus pose, Elevated Lotus Pose, Dolasana, Swing pose, Balance pose, Lifted Lotus Pose
Sanskrit name:तुलासन;
उत्थित पद्मासन
IAST:Tulāsana;
Utthita Padmāsana
Pronunciation:toh-LAHS-uh-nuh
Level:Intermediate
Type:Arm balancing, sitting
Total time:15 seconds to 60 seconds plus
Focus:Arm, wrists, abdominal, back, hips
Drishti:Forward;
Third eye
Chakra:Manipura Chakra, Svadhishthana Chakra, Manipura Chakra
Indications:Arms, shoulders, core muscles, flexibility, digestion, abdominal organs,
Counterposes:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Mountain Pose (Tadasana), Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana), Staff Pose (Dandasana)
Preparatory posesHalf Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana), Garudasana ( Eagle arm position) , Padmasana (Lotus Pose), Virasana (Hero Pose), Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
Follow-up poses:Savasana (Corpse Pose), Makarasana (Crocodile Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Kukkutasana (Rooster Pose)
Contraindications:Wrists, arms, or shoulders injury, high blood pressure, osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, insomnia, menstruation

Meaning

Utthita Padmasana

Tolasana derived from the Sanskrit name that made from two words — Tola + Asana or Tula + Asana:

  1. Tola” = “scale, or measuring”
  2. Tula” = “balance”
  3. Asana” = “pose or posture”

Tola means a pair of scales; literally “to prepare oneself” or “poising one’s self”; Usually presented as “balance” or “scale”. This pose resembles a pan of scales, hence the name.

The pose is not described in medieval Hatha Yoga texts. It appears in the 20th century in Swami Yogeshwarananda’s 1970 First Steps to Higher Yoga (spelled Tulasana), and BKS Iyengar’s 1966 Light on Yoga (spelled Tolasana).

Here in this pose, the body is raised on the floor, while still sitting
Padmasana, and hence the name Elevated Lotus Pose.

This pose is considered to be part of the primary series of Ashtanga Yoga. And it is also considered as a challenging pose, arm, and shoulder strength is tested here, while the body is suspended motionless.

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Benefits of Scale Pose (Tolasana)

Along with the physical and mental benefits of Lotus Pose (Padmasana), some additional benefits are derived from the practice of Scale Pose (Tolasana or Tulasana):

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Strengthen the arms (biceps, triceps, and brachioradialis), wrists, abdominal, back, and hips
    • Stretches the shoulder, arms, wrists, thighs, and hamstrings
    • Toned core muscles and abdominal muscles
    • Enhance the flexibility of hip flexors, ankles, and wrists 1
    • Stimulates the digestive organs functions
    • Improves the digestive system, self-confidence, inner strength and stability
    • Enhances the groundedness (sense of being connected) and balance
    • Clear the body toxins 2
  2. Mental Benefits:

Instruction to Scale Pose (Tolasana)

  • Cross the legs and get into Padmasana (Lotus Pose).
  • Place the palms of the hands on the mat beside your hips and spread the fingers wide apart. The fingers should be in front of you.
  • Take a breath. As you exhale, press the hands firmly to the floor and straighten the arms while lifting the torso and legs off the floor.
  • Balance the weight of the whole body on the hands only.
  • Tighten the core muscles and use the thigh muscles to help lift the knees.
  • The hand should be the only part of the body that is touching the floor.
  • Stay in this position for about 15 seconds to 60 seconds.
  • To come out of the pose, exhale and lower the legs. Then cross the legs to the other side and repeat the pose for the same amount of time.

Props, Modifications, Variations, and Tips

Make sure you are comfortable doing Padmasana (Lotus Pose) before doing this yoga pose.

Needs to deepen or lighten the Scale Pose (Tolasana)?; Try these simple changes to find the variation that works best:

Variations

Tolasana is not recommended for practitioners who are not able to do Padmasana comfortably. Instead, try a similar pose, Lolasana.

  • Kneel on the floor and cross the left side behind you in front of the right ankle, as if you were in the Lion Pose.
  • Then sit back on your right heel and place it in the perineum.
  • Place your hands on the floor (or on the blocks) as in Tolasana and follow the instructions above.
  • In Scale Pose, the raised torso is kept fairly straight; But in Lolasana, the back torso is completely rounded, and the shoulders are wide (that is, the back is pointed towards the ceiling).
  • Exhale as you exhale, replace the crosses of your ankles, and repeat for the same amount of time.

Beginner practitioners

You can practice this yoga pose with Half Lotus Pose (Ardha Padmasana). The only limitation with this is that it will only lift your buttocks off the floor. However, your bottom leg and outer calf muscles remain on the floor.

If you are not able to get into Padmasana (Lotus Pose), sit with your legs crossed in Sukhasana (Easy Pose) instead. To help lift the body, draw the knees in towards the chest.

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Advanced Practitioners

Advanced practitioners can jump back from Tulasana (Dolasana) to Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose).

Yoga blocks

Beginners can place their each hand on a block to help lift themselves off the floor. Place a block under each of your hand to get extra length for your arms. This makes it a little easier to lift your legs.

Tips

Keep the following tips in mind when practicing Scale Pose (Tolasana):

  1. Since Padmasana (Lotus Pose) is the base of this pose, it is important to get your alignment right first in Padmasana (Lotus Pose). Before trying this variation, check out the Padmasana (Lotus Pose) practice guide in the article!
  2. Begin by simply lifting the sit bones off the floor, placing the feet on the floor (or feet, if you’re in Easy Pose). As you gain strength, you will be able to lift the whole body.
  3. Maintaining the pose for more than 30 seconds requires a lot of abdominal strength and practice. With practice, you will be able to hold the body for a longer period of time.
  4. To help lift, pull the pelvic bone up and toward the core of the torso. Not only will this help build your abdominal strength, but it will also help you learn to engage your Mula Bandha.
  5. Advanced practitioners should engage both Uddiyana Bandha and Mula Bandha throughout the pose.

Anatomy engaging techniques

Tolasana (Scale Pose) is an arm-balancing yoga pose that engages several muscles in the arms, wrists, and core. The primary muscles engaged in this pose are: triceps, deltoids, wrist flexors and extensors, and abdominal.

To engage these muscles effectively in this yoga pose, maintain proper alignment and technique. Some key tips for engaging the muscles in Tolasana include:

  • Triceps: The triceps muscles, located at the back of the upper arm, are the primary movers in extending the elbow joint. In Tolasana, the triceps work to straighten the arms and lift the body off the ground. Press firmly into the palms to engage the triceps muscles.
  • Deltoids: The deltoid muscles located at the top of your shoulder are responsible for lifting the arm and shoulder joint. In Tolasana, the deltoids work to lift the body off the ground and stabilize the shoulder joint. Press firmly into the palms to engage your shoulder muscles.
  • Wrist flexors and extensors: These muscles that regulate its flexion as well as the extension of your wrist joint are called as wrist flexors and extensors. They are located on the front of your wrist. In Tolasana, these muscles work to support the weight of the body and maintain stability in the wrist joint. Activate your wrist flexors and extensors by pressing down into your hands and maintaining a stable, aligned wrist joint.
  • Abdominal: The abdominal muscles, including your rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis, work to stabilize your core and prevent the lower back from collapsing into Tolasana. Engage your core muscles by drawing your navel towards your spine and maintaining a strong, upright posture.
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By engaging these muscles in this yoga pose, you can build strength and stability in your arms, wrists, and core, which can be beneficial for other arm-balancing and inversion postures. Additionally, strengthening these muscles can help you prevent injuries.

Common mistakes

To perform Tolasana safely and effectively while building strength and stability in the arms, wrists, and core, it’s essential to avoid common mistakes. These include collapsing the lower back, allowing the shoulders to round forward, allowing the wrists to collapse, and relying on momentum.

Instead, focus on engaging the core, shoulder, and wrist muscles while maintaining proper alignment and technique. By focusing on this, you can make sure you’re practicing Tolasana safely and effectively, and you can avoid injury from these common mistakes.

With consistent practice and attention to detail, you can develop the strength and stability needed to perform Tolasana and other arm-balancing and inversion postures with confidence and ease.

However, the four possible common mistakes you can make in Tolasana, which are explaining below along with why they happen and how you can fix them:

  1. Collapsing the lower back: This occurs when you allow the lower back to round and collapse, putting pressure on the lumbar spine. This mistake is often due to a lack of engagement in the core muscles or weakness in the muscles of the lower back. To correct this mistake, you need to engage your core muscles and lengthen your spine.
  2. Allowing the shoulders to round forward: This mistake occurs when you allow the shoulders to round forward and the chest to collapse, which can strain the neck and upper back muscles. This mistake is often due to a lack of engagement in the shoulder and upper back muscles. To correct this mistake, you should engage the shoulder blades and draw them down and back, while keeping the chest lifted.
  3. Allowing the wrists to collapse: This mistake occurs when you allow the wrists to collapse, which can put pressure on the wrists and forearms. This mistake is often due to a lack of engagement in the wrist muscles or weakness in the forearm muscles. To correct this mistake, you should engage the wrist muscles and maintain a stable, aligned wrist joint.
  4. Relying on momentum: This mistake occurs when you use momentum to lift your body off the ground instead of relying on muscle strength. This mistake can be dangerous and result in injury. To correct this mistake, you must focus on engaging the muscles and lifting the body in a controlled manner.

Precautions and contraindications

The pose, considered an arm balance pose while the body is compact, the certain precautions and contraindications to keep in mind while practicing this pose, are given below:

Breathing

It is always good to work on the breathing with certain pranayama techniques, before attempting this yoga pose, as fast breathing will bring wrong vibrations to your body, if your mind is not calm.

Injury

Avoid practicing this yoga pose if you have injury on your arms, wrists, or shoulders.

Insomnia or anxiety

While this yoga pose is good to reduce stress, care should be taken if done when you are suffering with insomnia or anxiety disorder.

Hypertension, osteoporosis, or osteoarthritis

People with high blood pressure, acute osteoporosis or osteoarthritis should avoid practicing the Scale Pose (Tolasana).

Menstruation

Avoid performing this yoga pose during menstruation.

Sources

  1. Physical and perceptual benefits of yoga Asana practice: Results of a pilot study. July 2005Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 9(3):211-219. DOI:10.1016/j.jbmt.2004.08.001.[]
  2. International Journal of Medicine and Public Health. An Open Access, Peer Reviewed Journal in the field of Medicine and Public Health. Effect of Yoga on Adolescents’ Beliefs about Aggression and Alternatives. Govindaraja Setty A.G., Pailoor Subramanya, B. Mahadevan[]

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