Yoga is practiced by roughly 20.4 million people across the country, and the health benefits of incorporating yoga into your routine kick in almost immediately. As workout fads have ebbed and flowed in the physical fitness world, yoga — a 5,000-year-old practice — has endured. By combining 100 different forms of strength training, stretching, and meditation poses, yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles — it’s a total mind-body workout.

A 2013 study revealed beginners showed improvements in cognitive function and enjoyed boosts in focus and memory after just one 20-minute class. Participants in the study performed significantly better on brain function tests after the yoga session compared to those who performed 20 minutes of vigorous exercise.

Practicing yoga also results in lowered stress levels, even in beginners. In another study published in 2012, researchers were able to prove why a session of yoga has served as steadfast stress relief for virtually all yogis: After just 12 minutes of chanting yoga meditation, the practice lessened the activity of a certain group of proteins that play a role in the immune system’s inflammation response.

After just a few months of committing to the practice, yogis have the potential to reap extensive health benefits, including lower blood pressure, improved lung capacity, improved sexual function, anxiety relief, and improved sense of balance.

Grab a mat, comfortable clothes, and bring an open mind to try out a new exercise routine that provides benefits beyond fitness. For beginners, master some of these basic foundational moves to get you started.

1. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Stand straight with feet parallel to each other and hip-width apart. Shift weight to your right foot and lift your left foot. As you inhale, place the sole of your left food on your ankle then gradually move it up to your calf or mid-thigh. If your footing is stable, move it to the upper thigh. Inhaling again, slowly place palms together in a prayer pose above your head, then lower to your chest. Hold pose for several breaths and exit by softly placing your left foot back on the floor.

2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Stand with feet spread hip-width apart. Exhale and step with your left foot backward 3 to 4 feet. Turn your left foot 90 degrees so that it's perpendicular to your front foot. Turn your hips toward your back leg, inhale, and raise your arms so they are parallel to the floor over your thighs. Rotate your palms so they are facing downward. As you exhale, bend the right knee forward over your right heel. Breathe for several counts, and exhale as you exit the pose, straighten your right leg, and lower your arms.

3. Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana)

Stand with feet hip-width apart and step right foot back 3 feet. Turn right foot toward the side of the mat while keeping left toes pointed forward. Move arms out and hold them over your thighs in a “T” shape. Exhale as you bend forward at your hip toward your left leg, move hand toward your shin, and stretch your right arm up toward the sky. Breath comfortably and hold the position. To exit, exhale and look down toward your left foot as you step back.

4. Dolphin (Makarasana)

Start on all fours and place your elbows on the mat below your shoulders, keeping your forearms nearly straight. Turn your palms down and spread fingertips wide. Keep feet flat on the ground and lift your hips as you exhale. Gently straighten legs, hold, and stay in position for several breaths. Exit by lowering knees and sitting back onto the mat.

5. Cobra (Bhujangasana)

Lie on your belly with your chin on the floor. Place palms flat beneath your shoulders and without using your arms, inhale and lift your head and chest off the floor. Keep elbows close to your sides and press palms down into the mat. Drop shoulders down and press your chest forward. Hold pose and take several breaths before releasing and slowly lowering your chest back down onto the floor.