NOT that I am biased or anything!!
This story is a little tribute to my original home studio in Boston...
I think that a big part of being a Bikram yoga student (and we are all students, even the most senior teachers) is having faith in the correctness and effectiveness of the dialogue. (There's one of those 5 qualities of the mind again...) That's what it means to do this yoga the right way.
I am a scientist and an experimentalist, so faith is not something that I usually invoke as rationale. So like a good scientist, I have put this faith to the test before accepting it. I think my defining moment was in March of last year, and it came about through cobra pose. My back was starting to get really strong at that time, so I was coming up higher and higher in cobra, to the point where I was looking down the wall behind me, sometimes past the ballet barre. Belly-button touching the floor? Not so much. I asked one of my teacher friends about that line, "belly button only touching the floor", and she said "oh yeah, mine doesn't touch either," so I figured it was ok. Did the pose that way for a few weeks, maybe. Teachers were impressed by it. Teachers asked me to demonstrate it to the class, they were so impressed. So I figured I was doing good.
Finally, one day I'm in class with one of the studio owners, he's in the middle of teaching cobra, and he says "come up halfway only, until only your belly button is touching the floor. Belly button touching the floor. Belly button touching the floor. Belly button touching the floor." Everyone else in the class is definitely thinking "whoever is doing that wrong, can you please fix it so we can come out of the pose?" and I finally realize "oh crap, that's for me!" I come down like 12 inches. I'm pissed. Totally frustrated. What the heck. I thought I was so good at this pose. Why do I have to do it this way. This way doesn't make any sense. My way was so great. I talked to my teacher after class. I say, "but my back muscles are getting so strong this way!" He says, "belly button touching the floor." I say, "but I think I can get even more compression in my back when I come all the way up." He says, "belly button touching the floor." It's like boxing with a glacier. I go home pissed. I think ungenerous thoughts towards my teacher. I make a decision. I will try doing the posture this way for my next 30 classes and see if it works. If it doesn't, I'm switching back to "my" way.
For the next week, I do cobra strictly according to the dialogue and hate it. Every time I'm in it, I'm thinking, "this is stupid, this is totally holding me back, I like the other way so much better."
A week or two after that, I discover about 10 new lower back muscles. My advanced postures improve by leaps and bounds.
Dialogue was right. (And so was my teacher. I adore him.)
So that was my first experiment, the first test. It wasn't the last one; I've gone through similar trial and error periods with other postures. And you know what? In the end, I always arrive at the same solution: the dialogue was right all along. And that is just one of the reasons why I love it and trust it. I think my faith is well-earned and well-placed.