No Tricks • 16 February 2009

Let’s say Sherilyn Fenn is god. And the cherry stem she ties in a neat little knot using an inscrutable play of the tongue—the cherry stem is some particular human folded impossibly over and through in to purna matsyendrasana. The full maht-see. A supple knotted plaything hidden in the mouth of god.

Not everyone is a stem though. I’d always thought the full, prop-free matsyendra was for these ropy, worked-over guys. Leggy ectomorphs from the outset, beat and pulled and warmed over in to nice fruit leather from years upon years of the practice.

I’m not a fruit stem. Rather: soft not sinewy, with open but tweakable joints and legs so short my feet run right into my head in a forward bend. The distance from my bottom ribs to the crests of the ilium is… between two and three inches. Just not much length to tie up.

So I never expected to take the full expression of the matsyendra, with non-lotus heel firmly hooked on the outer quadricep and that foot fully grounded, the top-leg ischcial tuberosity equally pressing the ground, and the twisting arm torqued all the way out to a bind at the big toe while the other palm, its arm snaked around the back, rests easily on the inner thigh.

Ok that paragraph makes no sense. And besides I always feel somehow vulgar breaking these things down. For the kids playing along at home… don’t. It’s more or less Marichysana D on crack, with the added benefits of an assault on the inner meniscus, the possibility of snapping your arm off, and a “massage” of the liver and stomach so powerful that any sketchy food or drink you’ve so much as gazed upon the past 24 hours will be instantly and mercilessly recalled.

I’ve been practicing purna m for a year or something, with all the “benefits” listed above and a receeding wave of post-posture sponge syndrome (the gasp of relief a sponge takes when you stop wringing it), but without ever expecting the full expression. Taking it as an asymptotic function, because once I fold in the full position it’s impossible to also stay grounded. I just list over toward the up-knee hip and tumble into a mess of small limbs.

But then the other day, there was a sage ambush. Mmm? There were some misgivings about the arrival of the full expression because I felt tricked. There are no tricks to getting this maneuv, unless it's: “choose a major body hinge, and break it.” There is no purna matsyendrasana workshop or teacher who can give you the keys. You just fucking practice and let it be.

But… the ambush makes sense now. I’ve been teasing apart bits of hip flexor and lats, learning to let the liver be pushed around, finding a kind of balance from letting go in strange small places while pushing strongly in small others. The matsy, in my body, is something about being simulatenously the action and its reaction—until I cancel out the wobbles and become suspended for a few moments in space. The metaphor for union of opposition is obnoxious but inescapable: I bet RF has a field day with this one.

But… it’s still asymptotic. You have to breathe, have to let cells die and regenerate even as the pretzel locks in to place, have to realize there with the heel in the gut how many ways the body is still always in flux. The full expression is nice, but not something so new. A tiny difference; and now that I’m in it, I can still scarcely pin it down.