Veterans Yoga Project helping vets cope with stress


BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Veterans in our area are practicing yoga to improve their minds and bodies.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, those who served our nation say it’s reducing their pain and stress.

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In a place veterans gather to share drinks and stories, they also share deep breaths and stretches. They’re learning to control their bodies and minds to help cope with physical pain and painful memories.

“Yoga has been around for over, almost 5,000 years. So this is a modality that has been proven itself, that stands the test of time,” said Deb Jeannette, New York regional director for the nationwide nonprofit Veterans Yoga Project.

In-person classes have returned to Babylon and VA hospitals after a long COVID pause, bringing mindful resilience to veterans.

More than stretching, it’s about calming in the mind.

“Learning to take a moment to just stop, use your breath, feel the felt sensations of your body, because that’s really important, feeling, being in the present moment,” said Jeannette.

Yoga is teaching Vietnam veteran Fred Bencivenda, 78, to live in the moment instead of past traumas.

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“It keeps me in the present when I don’t think back anymore to the atrocities of war,” Bencivenga said. “You focus on the now… It’s mind control. It’s moving, parts of your body that you never even begin to move.”

Navy vet Tom Dunscomb said it improves his flexibility.

“I feel a lot less stress in the shoulders,” Dunscomb said.

Veterans in the program report having better sleep, less alcohol and drugs, improved social relationships and more gratitude.

Air Force vet Laverne Glover, who now teaches yoga to fellow vets, said it enabled her to change her mindset.

“I’m able to find value in all things and see beauty in the world, where once before I only saw chaos,” Glover said.

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One-hundred free yoga classes, online and in person, are offered each week to veterans and family members, serving those who have served our nation by helping them breathe a little easier.

Carolyn Gusoff

Carolyn Gusoff  has covered some of the most high profile news stories in New York City and is best known as a trusted, consistent and caring voice of…More from Carolyn Gusoff