The word 'yoga' means 'union' in Sanskrit (the language of yoga). When you practice yoga, you bring union to your mind, body and spirit. Does that sound a little hokey? Yep. Do I believe it? Yep.
For the first time in my life, I look forward to the part of the day when I go exercise. I stretch and twist and balance and contort. I sweat buckets. I love it.
There is something magical about thinking about nothing but breathing in and out for an hour and a half. When I leave, my body is tired and my mind is clear. And I have so much energy.
While I'm on my mat thinking about breathing in and out, I learn a lot of things about myself. I learn that I am weak, but also that I am strong. I learn to not judge myself and to not judge other people. I learn to leave my problems, concerns and frustrations at the door. I learn new love and respect for the amazing body that I have been given.
Yoga quite often begins with the instructor giving a thought to consider during the practice. One of my favorites went something like this: "Life happens in the small space between inhale and exhale." Why do I love that? I study bioenergetics and metabolism in my lab, which is basically the science of how we turn the fuel we eat into energy our body can use. The process is pretty complicated, but it requires oxygen. In the space between inhale and exhale, oxygen is moving from your lungs into your blood. From there, the oxygen moves into your cells and makes all other physiological processes possible. I love the moments when my inner scientist and yogi get to hold hands :)
Mostly I just love everything about yoga.