The first stirrings of yoga in human society began in the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. Today, just about every neighborhood in every major city in the world has a yoga studio, and no wonder. Its benefits are manifold.

Physically, it builds strength. Mentally, it builds focus. Emotionally, it builds an inner calm from breathing exercises. It’s even good for your waistline. What is often less talked about, however, are yoga’s social benefits. Yes, yoga can and should be done alone at home as well. It’s a cheap way of keeping in shape without spending a penny on a class.

But! Doing downward dogs with others does have its brain-boosting benefits, a not-so-ancient truth to which science is just waking up. There’s an alchemy that happens in a group breathing and moving together, and just being out in the world with others has tremendous brain benefits.

So please, today, check to see if there’s a yoga class nearby. Even if you’ve never been, yogis are always welcoming of beginners. Part of their job is to help you learn and adjust your body. The word yoga, in fact, simply means “union.” Union of body and mind, for sure. But also, union with others.