HUNTSVILLE, Ala (WHNT) — There are many veterans who struggle daily with physical or mental health issues stemming from their service to our country.
Whether that be chronic pain or mental health struggles, some experts say there’s an activity that could help, namely yoga.
Yoga dates back thousands of years. It started as a spiritual practice, but now it’s pretty popular for people working on their physical and mental well-being.
Air Force veteran Kristin Clark works with the national nonprofit Veterans Yoga Project (VYP) to provide free yoga classes for veterans, their caregivers, first responders and all of their families.
“Yoga is actually very individual, so it’s a unique type of experience for everybody,” Clark explained. “We’re trauma-sensitive and have had some training on adaptive yoga, so we kind of target the population who wouldn’t normally go out and seek yoga classes.”
VYP’s website says the organization aims to support “recovery and resilience” for vets and military families.
Clark said the yoga classes help vets work through whatever trauma, physical or mental, they may deal with.
“We have some people who really use it to help them sleep,” Clark said. “We have some who do yoga because it helps with their pain.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says there’s evidence of positive or potentially positive effects from yoga for those with chronic lower back pain, depressive disorders, anxiety and insomnia.
Clark’s free weekly classes started in Huntsville back in April. As a volunteer, she leads one class every Tuesday at the yoga studio “Move with Resilience” and one class every two weeks at the Huntsville Vet Center.
Several veterans who attend said it didn’t take long to feel the benefits.
“Being a veteran, where you take something from your service and you just can’t seem to let that go, and then bring your civilian life into that, it helps you relax the mind,” veteran Scott McKee said. “It helps you build resilience and not hold in any kind of stressors.”
Veteran Damon Hardy said it helps connect the mind and body.
“It’s a mind and body thing. We do a lot of relaxation techniques,” Hardy explained. “The stress of life, we try to leave it behind us and get connected with our mind and body.”
For Clark, who is a veteran herself, that means the world.
“I think veterans are a lot more comfortable taking yoga classes from veterans who are teaching because I think they maybe understand where they’re coming from a little bit more,” Clark said.
There are two options for veterans in the Huntsville area to go to free yoga classes.
One of those is a 90-minute basic yoga class every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. and is free for all veterans, first responders, veterans’ caregivers and all their families.
That class takes place at the “Move with Resilience” studio at 2302a Starmount Circle SW in Huntsville.
For more information, contact Kristin Clark via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s another free class that happens every two weeks in Huntsville, specifically for veterans who are registered at the Huntsville Vet Center or vets who get referred by the VA clinic.
That class is a 60-minute gentle yoga class every other Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. at the Huntsville Vet Center at 415 Church Street NW in Huntsville.
For more information on the vet center class, contact Tameka Adams-Allen at (256) 539-5775
If you live outside of Huntsville and are interested in attending a class hosted by the VYP you can locate a local class here.
For more information on the health benefits of Yoga, you can visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website here.