Why is it so hard to listen and follow instructions? Just about every revelation I've had about how to improve my practice has been something that has been included in the dialogue. So, as I've said several times before, my "discovery" was finally paying attention to something that I had been told all along.
I am far from alone in this failing. The very first thing we are told in Pranayama is "heels and toes touching". That seems simple enough. Today, I noticed that about 1/3 of the people were standing with their feet apart. Some then moved them sort of together when the breathing actually started, but a surprising number just blithely went ahead with the exercise without bringing their feet together. So, what did they not hear?
Maybe it doesn't make that much difference in pranayama whether your heels and toes are touching. But I have my doubts. I'm willing to bet that almost everything in the dialogue is there for a reason. And I also tend to think that Bikram knows a boatload more about this stuff than the average student. If it doesn't make a difference, then there's no reason not to follow the dialogue. And if it does, then following the dialogue is even more important. (Pascal's Wager applied to yoga!)
I've been guilty of this many times. I've been told time and again to lock my elbows, in Half Moon, in Half Tortoise, in Balancing Stick, in Standing Separate Head to Knee. And I still catch myself with bent elbows in some of these (though not so much in Half Moon anymore). That's one obvious example, and I'm aware of it. The scary thing is that there are probably other revelations waiting, little things that I am not doing and have not paid attention to, simply because I'm still not listening well enough.
Good class again today. I'm beginning to get a tiny bit of flexiblity back into my left hamstring, and that's a very encouraging sign. Triangle has gotten really strong the last couple of classes. I have passed the point of just suffering to stay in the pose, and I'm finally starting to think about doing the stretch in the arms and torso the way the dialogue describes. This is one of those poses where just doing an approximation was so hard that actually doing the pose seemed unimaginable.
Balancing series was really good again today. As were most of my other "problem" poses: Locust was as good as its been. Full Locust was very strong for some reason. I've noticed on the back strengthening series that I tend to alternate good and bad days. That might have something to do with the strengthening aspect of these poses. On the bad days, it may be that my body is just screaming for a rest already (although its probably a whole lot more complicated than that).
Fixed Firm was about where its been recently -- not even close to dropping my elbows back. But the other poses that have been bugging my knee were better. So there's even some progress there.