1. I feel great, physically and mentally. Just four months ago, I had all the vitality you’d expect from a middle-aged dad who works from home sitting in front of a computer all day. After just a few yoga classes, I started to feel stronger and more confident; now, after work, I’m energized and headed for the mat instead of drained and headed for the couch.

2. I’m objectively healthier. By objectively, I mean by the numbers that matter to me. In the four months since I started doing yoga, I’ve dropped 10 pounds. I’m back to the 33-inch waist size that I hadn’t bought pants for in years. And I’ve been told by people with no reason to flatter me that I’ve lost at least two chins … and added one jawline and a couple of cheekbones.

3. The teachers at my studio are great. I thought maybe yoga instructors would be a little more “chill” than some of the other fitness pros you read about. But the teachers I’ve encountered have been easygoing AND encouraging in ways that have exceeded my expectations. “You’re doing great!” they tell me, even when I nearly topple over trying to do eagle pose or have to be adjusted to do child’s pose correctly. After one class I told my instructor, “Yeah, I’m really a beginner at this” and he replied, “Chuck, we’re ALL beginners.” Wasn’t that nice?

4. I sleep better at night. Before I started yoga, I could always look forward to laying awake at 1:00 a.m., worrying about how I’m going to pay for two college educations (and two weddings), what happens if I get sick, what if my wife dumps me because I don’t look good in a swimsuit (hey, I live in California). Now, after a class, I’m too exhausted to care about any of these things, and I sleep like the proverbial baby. (Bonus: lately my wife’s been telling me I look great. Whew!)

5. I get to talk about yoga. Not in an “I do CrossFit and I’m a vegan” kind of way, I promise. It’s more like if I run into someone I haven’t seen in a while, and they ask “what’s new,” I can say, “I started doing yoga” instead of “I grew a few more skin tags.” And I can talk to my classmates about, say, while my chair pose still feels awkward, my chaturangas are getting a little stronger …

6. I’m not invisible at the Lululemon store anymore. It used to be I’d go in there and they’d ask, “Shopping for your wife or daughters, sir?” Last time I stopped in, the salesperson asked if she could help me find something in the men’s section! (OK, I’m mostly kidding about the Lulu store, but not completely.)

7. It’s changed my life! Seriously, I should’ve started doing yoga years ago. Now, though, people in my life have told me (without prompting) that I’m more upbeat, positive, and fun to be around. I suppose feeling better and more at peace will do that for you!

Over to the rest of you yogis: What age were you when you started practicing? Did it change your life too?

pbr