In the West the word yoga has become synonymous with the practice of asana, but if we study yoga philosophy we realise that yoga is meant to be all of life, and the practice of asana just a (very small) part of it. I use yoga as a description of nearly everything that I do that is guided by awareness and intention.
The word yoga is Sanskrit for ‘join’ or ‘to yoke’. Within the context of the lifestyle it has become, it refers to the joining of the different aspects of ourselves so that we do not feel scattered or isolated, get stressed, or become sick; it is the natural integration of our body, mind, and spirit; it is the joining of the aspects of light and dark, concrete and abstract, internal and external, masculine and feminine within each of us, and especially of our individual self with our higher Self, as well as the oneness of all; it is about being whole and balanced; it is neither religion, nor sport, but a tool; it is everything that we do that brings us home to ourselves, to our centre, and the consequent living from a harmonious (aligned) state of being.
The practice of asanas is a great place to start. It gets us in touch with the biggest and grossest sensations of our body. Through continuous practice and the adding of subtler practices, our awareness will becomes subtler and subtler, embodying levels of our existence that we might have previously been wholly unaware of, as well as becoming more adept at managing all these parts of ourselves that are floating around in the world we find ourselves in.
Yoga's greatest benefit lies in what you learn on the mat, the skills you acquire that aid you in dealing with life's curve balls and which strengthen your ability to deal with change while at the same time, opening you up to change. Yoga is also an excellent tool to aid you in bringing your mind back under your management, and from the stillness that you gain, you will find that your true self regains its intended position within your life.
Whatever your reason for being drawn to this practice, yoga will meet you there and you will find that you gain all the benefits no matter what your intention.