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“The blossoming is realized by lowering the woman’s head and raising her vagina,” writes Vatsyayana of a position that’s somewhere between a Pilates bridge and missionary. What’s the point of elevating your vulva over your head (aside from getting a sweet core workout mid-sex)?
To understand that, it helps to learn a little bit more about one of the Kama Sutra’s obsessions: relative penis and vagina size. According to the text, penises and vaginas both come in three variations. A penis might be a hare, a bull, or a stallion, while a vagina might be a doe, a mare, or a cow-elephant. If a penis and vagina aren’t well matched in size, that can spell doom — though positions like “blossoming” are intended to help a smaller vagina open up to accommodate a larger member.
Queen of Heaven (Indranika)
Another entrant into the catalog of positions intended to ease a vagina open and expand its capacity, the "Queen of Heaven" (which, the text notes, requires practice) involves a man wrapping his thighs around his female partner and forcefully opening the vagina with his hands. The name is apparently an ode to the wife of Indra, the King of Heaven, who is credited with inventing this position.
But the Kama Sutra isn’t just concerned with helping wee little vaginas stretch to encompass massive penises; it also takes very seriously the task of helping more roomy vaginas and smaller penises find pleasure when paired together. There are a number of ways to do this, but one of the most interesting is "envelopment," which involves the woman crossing her legs, one over the other, while being penetrated.
Another fun tidbit? Midway through its section on cow-elephant vaginas matched with hare penises, the Kama Sutra takes a minute to inform the reader that “in sleeping, the man must lie to the right of the woman: She should always be on the man’s left.” If this seems like an odd digression, the commentary explains that this is “in order not to cause difficulties if [the man] seeks [the woman] while asleep,” though how any of that makes sense I leave to you to figure out.
Turns out "mare" isn’t just a term for average-sized vaginas: It’s also a complex sex position (one, the Kama Sutra commentary notes, that’s vulgar and mostly used by sex workers) wherein the vagina seizes the penis “without moving.” Confused? The commentary expands upon this description to note that, like a mare with a stallion, this position involves sliding the penis into the vagina without any kissing or embracing, apparently in cowgirl style.
The broken flute (venudaritaka)
After its lengthy exploration of how to have good sex (even if you’re struggling with a supposedly mismatched penis-and-vagina set), the Kama Sutra turns to a different realm of positions — one that might align a little bit more with the popular vision of wild and crazy Kama Sutra sex. One of my favorites would have to be the "broken flute," which involves a woman lying down, putting her foot on her male partner’s shoulder, and then taking it off and putting the other foot on his other shoulder, like some sort of mid-coital Rockette.