Asana of the Week: Tolasana (Utpluthih)

Tolasana (Scales Pose), known among Ashtangis as Utpluthih (pronounced OOT-PLOOT-TEEHEE), is an important arm balancing posture that builds strength, heat, and stamina as it highlights and tones the all-important bandhas

To enter this posture, fold your legs into Padmasana, plant your hands beside your hips, and inhale to curl up from the belly and lift the body from the floor.  Push the arms straight and the shoulders down.  Be sure to spread your fingers wide and distribute the weight evenly across the surface of both palms.  Lift the legs until your thigh bones are approximately parallel to the floor.  There is a slight rounding of the low back here as you tuck the tail under and curl the belly in.  Hold for 10 breaths or more.

Consciously use the bandhas to create a sense of lightness in your posture.  Feel yourself floating up-up-up!  The traditional driste (gaze) is to the nose, but I prefer to lift the gaze to the third eye in order to encourage an upward, pranic experience of the posture.

The obvious prerequisite to this arm balance is a comfortable Padmasana (Lotus Pose); however, if Padmasana puts any strain on the knees or ankles, Tolasana may be practiced instead with the shins crossed and the knees drawn in toward the chest.  If the posture is practiced this way, be sure to alternate the crossing of the legs with each practice.  Do not be put off if at first you cannot lift from the floor or hold the posture for very long.  Keep trying.  Strength will come.


  1. Hi,

    as for the practice of this posture in the finishing sequence, David Swenson recommends in "the practice manual" to hold it for 100 breaths. Does he still advice this amount of time? I've read book where they recommend it for 25 breaths only...


    PS: the asanas of the week are always interesting to read ;)

  2. Hi Louis,

    Good question. Swenson did prescribe 100 breaths for this posture in the Practice Manual, however, as he has explained it to me, those 100 breaths were rapid kapalbhati breaths, whereas the 10-25 breaths we are taught now are long, slow ujjayi breaths. As a result, the length of time spent in the posture is about the same.

  3. great instructions! i find that you need to use bhandas A LOT to maintain a correct posture and not collapse in arms, spine, arms.... but u r right, strength comes over time!

  4. I have been taught that Ultphlutihi is the springing up motion, and Tolasana is the held pose. More food for consideration...

    1. This is what I've learned as well. Tolasana is more lotus held in the balance, i.e. equal scales. Utpluthih is the lotus coming up, i.e. uprooting.

  5. Huh... Interesting, TammyB! I've never heard that, but I'd like to know more. Thanks for sharing. Let the googling begin!

  6. I love the little poofs of curls at the ends of your braids.