It's about focus. The girl in the book is teaching her student, and has him standing in a warrior pose, gazing out over his hand. Then she tells him:
"Now focus your gaze on your finger," and another breath passed.
"Then on the tips of your fingers," and I let two breaths pass.
"And now on your fingernails," one more breath. "And then the fingernail of yor middle finger only," two more breaths. "And now on the end of that fingernail; on the curve of fingernail at the end. " And he did, for three breaths.
"Good," I said, "now relax."
He stood up straight and looked at me steadily. "That's the longest you've ever held that pose," I said. "Twice as long as before, in fact."
He raised his eyebrows. "Sure didn't feel like that..."
I love this! It's "the left eye of the bird" all over again, practically word for word, but slightly different. I thought about this passage in class yesterday morning during standing bow and it was a great success. I was so much more stable than usual.
It's really great to see how often Bikram's philosophy is in perfect lock-step with the other yoga writings. It shouldn't come as any surprise, considering Bikram's background, but it's sometimes easy to forget his teachings are part of a much larger context. I think the one place where the Bikram yoga community falls down sometimes is in our easy dismissal of other styles. There are so many Bikram teachers who never tried any other styles of yoga before becoming certified. There are so many of us, myself included, who practice Bikram's class almost exclusively. And I don't think that's a bad thing at all, but I think we have to be conscious that there's a risk of becoming insular and close-minded and forgetting that there is a lot of other good yoga out there. There is plenty of crap yoga, too! ("Mickey Mouse!!") But there is other good yoga that we can always learn from.
And for me, every time I study another book or take a different good class, it just reaffirms my belief in Bikram and his system, because so many other teachings align perfectly with his. I think he gets it all right, and his class is second to none. But he's not the only one.