Yoga is an ancient practice that has been allowing its practitioners to reap its benefits for over 5,000 years. Once a mystical practice reserved for the few, yoga is now a worldwide phenomenon finding fans in the most unlikely places.

Unfortunately, yoga’s new life as a big business portrayed by the Instagram world of lithe models in expensive clothing on private beaches may be turning away some of the people who need it most. Yoga benefits your body and mind in several ways, including improvement of flexibility, strength, balance and endurance. It helps you excel at other sports and also teaches you ways to cope with stress and cultivate mindfulness.

If you’re still on the fence about trying yoga, unearth 5 great benefits to a daily yoga practice to see if it changes your mind.

1Your emotional health will get a boost

Any exercise has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety and yoga is no exception. In fact, a study from Duke University Medical Center has said that yoga can also benefit those trying to cope with severe depression, schizophrenia, insomnia and other psychiatric conditions.

Yoga, especially practiced in a group, has been shown to stimulate production of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for love and bonding. On top of this, the practice of mindfulness through yoga meditation has shown to improve the levels of serotonin in the brain (the happy hormone) and people who practice long-term have shown greater mass in the areas of the brain associated with contentment.

2It will help stop your back pain

Tired of painkillers and strange orthopedic devices? Try yoga to soothe your aching spine.

The vast majority of us spend our days sitting at a desk. Not only has desk work been shown to vastly increase our chances of developing a chronic disease, it also causes chronic back pain in many people. People living with chronic back pain have shown yoga to be a more effective treatment than the usual care options. Studies have found that those who practice yoga reported better back function and less pain after a few months of doing yoga than those who attempted other forms of care.

In fact, another study showed that participants who did just one week of yoga showed greater flexibility and less issues than those who participated in other physical exercises.

3It could help you get pregnant

If you’re thinking of starting a family, consider adding yoga to your fertility treatments.

Yoga’s ability to decrease stress means that it could increase your chances of conceiving. Though so studies have conclusively shown this connection, doctors do advocate for lowering stress to help with fertility issues. A stressed body is not a body ready to conceive, so allowing yourself time to focus, relax and detach can do wonders for releasing tension, both physical and mental.

Yoga has also been shown to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, improve general organ function and improve hormone function, which are all very important elements of conceiving and carrying a happy, healthy baby to term.

4It may help your overcome PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be a debilitating condition that may seem at times impossible to overcome. PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the witnessing or experience of a traumatic or life-threatening event, causing a person to continue reliving the event in various ways. This incredibly stressful and upsetting condition can be helped with the use of yoga.

Yoga uses deep, controlled breathing to help calm the nervous system, which can help negate the hypervigilance associated with PTSD. It can also help therapists begin treatment by using yoga to see how their patients cope with stress and how they self-regulate. It also helps bring one back to their own body. Intense trauma can cause people to dissociate from their body, but yoga’s focus is to return to the body, focus on your body and celebrate its power and very existence.

5It can help increase your memory

By reducing mental stress, yoga allows us to reduce the mental clutter that can fill up our days and our minds. The minutia of our lives can begin to seem overwhelming when we try to tackle it all at once. It’s important to detach mentally and allow ourselves the freedom to focus and breathe.

Yoga improves cognitive function by using focused breathing, meditation techniques and endurance poses that require intense concentration. By bringing us to this place of peace and calm, we can better categorize what is important and refocus our minds.

SHARE