First the poses --
Standing Head to Knee: For the first time, I made it through a full 60 seconds with leg locked, balancing and the lifted leg kicking out. And I almost got it fully extended. The more remarkable thing is that I did it with the left leg lifted. Usually, my right foot hurts too much to balance for that long. Today, something just clicked.
Toe Stand: I've got to be more careful coming out of this. I tried to stand up with the strength of my right leg. Not a good idea. I almost twisted my knee. I guess there's a reason they tell you to come out of the pose the reverse of how you went into it.
Fixed Firm: This is my "now you see it, now you don't" pose. In the hot yoga classes in China, I was not getting anywhere with this. Today, for the first time, I got all the way down and had my arms folded behind my head and started working on the bridge in the back. This pose seems to magnify fairly small increases in flexibility in the ankles, knees and hips. I've heard that you get something like a 5% increase in flexibility from the heat. That small difference is enough to make the difference between being fully in the pose (in the heat), or sitting in pain, straight up, with my hips hovering a couple of inches off the floor.
Now, more generally. Working on visualization and attitude seems to be paying off, both in the class and outside. The classes seem to move faster, and there's very little pain or discomfort anymore. I'm even laughing from time to time. I'm not thinking of the class as the "torture chamber," as Bikram himself puts it. Outside, I'm seeing some of the same things. Basically, I can see myself being more pleasant to strangers in general. And it seems to take more to make me angry. That's a little side benefit that I was not expecting at all.