Strengthens hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders; brings awareness, alignment, and strength to your abdominal area; creates a sense of lightness, confidence, and fun
Sit in Dandasana. Place your right hand inside your right knee, rolling it out to the side. Lean forward and carefully place your right foot at your left hip crease in Ardha Padmasana. Extend your inner groin to your inner knee, roll your inner knee toward your outer knee, and draw your outer knee toward your outer hip.
Relax your left leg and place your left hand inside your knee, bending it to the side. Lean forward, grab your left heel, and very carefully bring your left leg on top of your right leg, placing the heel at your right hip crease and externally rotating your left thigh. Relax your feet and allow the soles to face up. If possible, draw in your outer thighs, bringing your knees closer together.
Bring your hands to the floor beside your hips. Spread your fingers and palms on the floor to create a good foundation. To prepare for liftoff, draw the sides of your navel back toward your spine and lean forward slightly. Now comes the moment you’ve been waiting for!
On an exhale, press your hands down to lift your knees and buttocks off the floor. Your knees should be in line with your navel and feel light, while your gaze is forward, not down. To quiet the mind, picture half your gaze looking out while the other half looks in. On your next exhale, draw the sides of your navel back and up to activate your core and create more lift. Breathe normally and balance for as long as is comfortable—or for as long as you feel a sense of lightness and joy—then lower back to the floor. To exit, lean forward and take your left foot off your right thigh, and then your right foot off your left thigh. Return to Dandasana, extending out through your heels for a few breaths. Then switch legs and repeat on the other side.
See also Master Warrior I
If you can’t lift your buttocks off the floor, try placing two blocks directly under your shoulders. Now press down into the blocks, just like you would the floor, and get ready for takeoff!
Safe Practice Tip
When practicing poses that include Padmasana, it’s important to approach this leg position carefully and not strain your knees. If your knees or hips feel stiff, briefly move in and out of Padmasana a few times before lifting up into Tolasana. Also, be mindful of your wrists during takeoff, especially if they’re tight. If they hurt, come out of the pose immediately. For tight wrists, you can try using blocks under your hands (see Tolasana variation, slide 5), placing them such that your fingers hang off the blocks. Come down if the pain persists.
About Our Pro
Iyengar Yoga instructor Koren Paalman studied with B.K.S. Iyengar and his daughter Geeta, and has been teaching yoga since 1995 to both adults and youths in a variety of settings. In 2007, Paalman founded Conscious Grieving, a grief-support service that combines yoga with other modalities in individual consultations and workshops nationally. Learn more at korenyoga.com