I practiced today, finally, after more than a week away from the mat. I remember that the way T.K.V. Desikachar (son of the legendary Krishnamacharya, the guru of B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, and Indra Devi) teaches emphasizes "start where you are." Of course I've always known that in my rational mind, but I think I was far from doing that in practice. It always seemed to me there was a better, more perfect ideal to reach, in every aspect of my life. Today, with my stress-stiffened joints and overextended muscles, I am outwardly no longer the flexible practitioner I was just a few months ago, but my internal practice is just beginning to take shape. I am doing yoga for myself for once, not to teach others, not to become a better doctor, not to be a "better me," not to please my teacher, not to be in shape...not for any reason other than it feels good and right. I used to always gravitate towards "hard" teachers - the disciplinarian ones that push you and adjust you and really put you in your place and feed my tendency to believe I'm never good enough - until I began realizing that these teachers are the external manifestation of what I tell myself.
I like Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 2.16: heyam duhkham anagatam (translation: but future suffering can be avoided). There is no reason to suffer for the sake of suffering. If anything, suffering is often held onto with pride because one fears the possibility that happiness cannot exist.
Didn't someone say: "don't let the perfect ruin the good"?