BABYLON, NY (CBS New York) — Veterans in our region practice yoga to improve their minds and bodies.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, those who have served our country say it reduces their pain and stress.

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In a place where veterans gather to share drinks and stories, they also share deep breaths and stretches. They learn to control their body and mind to deal with physical pain and painful memories.

“Yoga has been around for over 5,000 years. So it’s a proven modality that stands the test of time, said Deb Jeannette, New York Regional Director for the nonprofit National Veterans Yoga Project.

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

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

“Learning to take a moment to stop, to use your breath, to feel the sensations that your body is having, because it’s really important, to feel, to be in the moment,” Jeannette said.

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

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“It keeps me in the present when I no longer think about the atrocities of war,” Bencivenga said. “You focus on the present moment… It’s mind control. It’s moving, parts of your body that you haven’t even begun to move.

Navy vet Tom Dunscomb said it improved his flexibility.

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

Program veterans report having better sleep, less alcohol and drugs, better social relationships and more gratitude.

Air Force vet Laverne Glover, who now teaches yoga to other vets, said it gave her a mindset change.

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

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