How to Do Scale Pose (Tolasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Scale pose

Getty Images / fizkes

Also known as: Tolasana

Targets: Wrists, arms, shoulders, and core

Level: Intermediate

For the well-acquainted yogis, you may be familiar with Scale Pose— that's Tolasana in Sanskrit, the original language of yoga. This pose is one of the primary movements in the Ashtanga Yoga series, whereby each pose (asana) links in a synchronized flow (vinyasa).

While Ashtanga Yoga is suitable for all levels, some poses are reserved for those more versed in the practice. Scale Pose is such an example.

"Given it requires a lot of strength, balance, and concentration, this pose is more suited for intermediate yogis," explains Bianca Kamhi, yoga instructor and founder of Living With Bianca.

But with perseverance, Tolasana gives you the freedom to dangle above the ground like a scale, bringing a sense of serenity to your body and surroundings.

Benefits

Alongside its ability to activate the body's seven energy centers, known as chakras (wheels) that align the spine, Tolasana reaps many benefits of yoga, including reduction of stress and anxiety, and improved sense of wellbeing.

Scale Pose is an intense asana that requires multiple muscles across the body to harmonize. In particular, this pose offers the following benefits:

  • Develops strength: This pose isolates muscles in your wrists, arms, legs, and core, forcing them to contract and work hard to maintain the correct position.
  • Targets your abdominal muscles: The core is fully activated to stabilize the body securely in place, thereby improving strength and definition in this region with practice. It also stimulates the adnominal organs for optimal digestion.
  • Enhances your balance skills: Scale Pose challenges you to maintain the perfect balance on your hands, and also encourages deep concentration and focus.

"The biceps, triceps, and the brachioradialis (forearm muscle) of the arms are activated during the pose," explains Kamhi. "Importantly, your core is at work to hold you in the position, and you will also exert flexibility in the hips in order to place the legs safely in Lotus Pose without twisting the knees."

In addition, the shoulders, chest, and muscles in the legs will activate while getting into, holding, and lowering from the pose. This is also where the core is put to work, with the abdominals, obliques, and lower back all working together to keep the body steady and balanced.

Like other yoga poses that are said to provide IBS symptom relief, Tolasana can stimulate the abdominal muscles in such a way as to improve digestion.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Below, Kamhi explains how to perfect your Scale Pose.

  1. Cross your legs and come into the Lotus Pose. If you are a beginner, place yoga blocks by your sides, and come to a seated, comfortable cross-legged position.
  2. Place the palms of your hands on the mat (or blocks) next to your hips, with your fingers spread wide apart and pointing in front of you. Deeply inhale and exhale.
  3. Press your hands firmly into the ground and straighten your arms as you raise your torso and legs off the ground.
  4. Tighten your core muscles and use your thighs to help lift up your knees. Your hands should be the only part of your body touching the floor as you balance your full body weight.
  5. Aim to hold the position for about 15 to 20 seconds, before lowering your legs back down as you exhale.
  6. Cross your legs the other way, when you are ready, and repeat this pose with the same steps.

Common Mistakes

Proper activation of the pelvic bone is often overlooked in Scale Pose. It must be drawn up and in, directly to your core. It's also important to achieve the correct alignment in Lotus Pose before progressing to Tolasana in order to balance your body weight properly.

Similarly, proper alignment of the shoulders and wrists is crucial to avoid strain or injury. Finally, remember to slow down your breathing to internalize the meditative effects.

Modifications and Variations

Anyone new to yoga or who experiences tightness in the body should start off with Sukasana, known as "Easy Pose." Here, you simply sit in a cross-legged position.

Half Lotus

The next advancement is mastering Half Lotus (Ardha Padmasana), the foundation to Scale Pose. For background, Lotus is the national (and scared) flower of India, symbolizing purity and beauty, among other things. Therefore, this meditative pose has the potential to bring about powerful calming effects on the mind and body as highlighted by many yoga studies.

Half Lotus is a popular yoga asana that requires you to place one foot on top of the opposing calf, keeping the sole of the foot pointing upwards. The goal is to relax the foot into the hip.

In a cross-legged position, your other knee should be bent with the shin placed on the floor. Take a minute or two to focus on your breathwork. Then, switch sides to balance the body.

Full Lotus

Once you are comfortable in this position, progress to Full Lotus (Padmasana), known for being an effective hip and chest opener. This pose requires a degree of hip flexibility.

Sitting centered on your mat, bring your right knee into the chest and place the ankle on the left hip crease, with the palm of the foot facing upward. Bending your left knee, bring the left ankle to the opposite hip crease, again with the sole of the foot upward.

Then close the gap between your knees as much as possible and feel the hips opening as rest your palms on the knees. Take a moment to breathe deeply and meditate in this pose.

From here, you can build up to Scale Pose with the assistance of yoga blocks placed under each hand. Lean on the blocks for a boost of height, which will make it easier to lift your body off the ground.

Safety Precautions

If you have pain or injuries in the hips, back, or knees, this exercise is not suitable. This pose places direct pressure on the wrists and shoulders, and therefore should be avoided if you experience weakness in these areas. Scale Pose should also not be attempted if you suffer from a hernia.

As with more complex yoga poses, build up to Scale Pose in stages, and make sure your body is sufficiently warmed up, stretched, and nimble enough to hold this position with proper form. Keep to your imitations and reduce the intensity if you experience any pain or aching anywhere in the body.

Try It Out

Incorporate these other yoga poses into your flow:

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