My yoga teacher once said, 'when you start doing yoga it's all about making shapes with your body'. Later on you get into the deeper, more philosophical aspects of the practice - those come with time and consistent practice. But in the beginning, yoga is about making shapes.
One of the most well known yoga poses is trikonasana or triangle pose. I'm not going to go into a detailed explanation of how to practice this pose - you can read about it at Yoga Journal, or you can watch Rachel's Suburban Yogini tv where she beautifully demonstrates a variation of the pose (thanks Rachel!).
It's one of my favourite poses because even though I have been practicing it for over ten years now, each time I do it I learn something new about my body - about how placing my feet in a certain way, or working with props, or extending my arms, or pressing down my feet - can help me to achieve a deeper awareness of the pose, an experience of ' myself moving through space' and thereby a greater appreciation of what my body can do when I give it the love(=attention) and support (=props) it needs.
And this learning follows me off my mat and into my life.
To put it simply, I'm coming to appreciate my body not for its shape but for its ability to make shapes.
And for me this has been the greatest gift of yoga : the gift of awareness - of being able to enjoy the experience of being in my body, and to celebrate what it feels like to be human - no matter what shape I am in!