On Tuesday nights, military veterans at Healing Breath Yoga Therapy can pose and stretch all they'd like. One thing they can't do, pay for the privilege.

What You Need To Know

  • Healing Breath Yoga Therapy in Amherst is offering free yoga for military veterans on Tuesday evenings

  • Chrstine Calabrese thought up of the idea while working as a dentist, when many of her patients were veterans

  • Calabrese wants to give veterans a resource to help their mental health

Christine Calabrese, a yoga therapist in Amherst, used to work as a dentist. Many of her patients were veterans, and she found that there weren't enough resources to benefit their mental health.    

"When I got my yoga therapy certification, part of yoga is giving back to the community," she says. "I thought this was a group that I really wanted to try to help."

She's offered the free classes for nearly four years, and they've been a huge help to veterans like Heidi Olsen. The WNY native served two years in the Army, and she's battled mental illness for the past decade.

"One of the things with my mental health disability is that I’ll get disorganized thoughts and chaotic thoughts," she says. "Focusing on the pose, focusing on my breath, has helped me get control of those aspects of my disability."

Heidi first learned about the classes from the VA. She has since become a regular under Christine’s careful watch.

"It means a lot to have a free class that benefits the body, benefits the mind. Benefits you emotionally," she says. 

Christine can handle up to nine veterans in her space, but she's not disappointed if only one shows up.

"If they’re coming because they’re getting some benefit from my classes, I’m happy to just have them get a private yoga class," she says.