By Ukee Washington
CHERRY HILL, N.J., (CBS) — A former Marine now living in South Jersey says yoga saved his life. Now, he’s offering free yoga classes to fellow veterans and their families. Eyewitness News anchor Ukee Washington got a chance to meet him in Cherry Hill.
When Marine Captain C.J. Keller of Moorestown came back from serving in Iraq in 2008, he struggled with PTSD.
“I was a gym rat. I would go and I would run, and I would go to the bar,” C.J. said. “Those were my coping strategies. That’s what I knew.”
Then C.J. found yoga. He is now a yoga instructor. Twice a week, he offers free yoga classes for veterans, one class in Maple Shade, the other in Cherry Hill.
“Yoga gives you the tools. It empowers you to be present with what is,” C.J. said.
Veterans can bring their family members to classes, too.
Jim Hambley, a former Marine corporal, signed up. He says the class helps him cope with difficult feelings, including losing a fellow vet and friend to suicide.
“I used to push away the, the sad, the bad thoughts,” Jim said. “But I’m getting to a place where it’s okay. You need those emotions.”
C.J. hopes to get twenty veterans and family members per class. The classes are free, but C.J. welcomes donations for Active Heroes, a non-profit trying to end suicides in the military.
These veterans are back on a mission together: saving each other. They agree it’s a bond like no other.
“I get to be with my brothers and sisters again,” Jim said.
C.J. says he plans to hold these classes indefinitely, and there’s no need to sign up in advance.
One class is held Saturdays at 2:00 PM at SHINE Power Yoga, 112 East Main Street in Maple Shade. 856-793-5311 www.shinepoweryoga.com
The other class is held Wednesdays at 7:15 PM at Moonshine Power Yoga, 484 Evesham Road (Short Hills Town Center) in Cherry Hill. 609-828-8596 www.moonshinepoweryoga.com