War Related Illness and Injury Study Center
CA WRIISC Integrative Health and Wellness Program
Integrative Health and Wellness is used to describe health care practices that combine western medicine with complementary techniques not found in conventional medical treatments. These complementary treatments can include, but are not limited to the use of herbs and vitamin supplements, meditation, relaxation techniques, yoga, tai chi, massage, Reiki, movement therapies, and acupuncture. They can be used to target specific health conditions or as one part of an overall wellness program. The CA WRIISC incorporates yoga and mindfulness-based practices into its clinical program.
What programs are offered at CA WRIISC?
Mat and Chair Yoga
CA WRIISC began providing yoga classes for Veterans in January 2010 and has expanded the program to provide classes on a drop-in basis and to special in-patient and out-patient clinical groups upon request.
In late 2012 CA WRIISC started to provide chair yoga classes to Veterans living in outlying communities through the Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT) program. This enables Veterans greater access to yoga as a specialty service from their local Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC).
The classes are appropriate for Veterans of all fitness levels. Yoga classes can help provide relief of symptoms from chronic pain, fatigue, stress and anxiety, enhance balance, and improve general health and well-being. Yoga can help improve flexibility but you do not have to be flexible to begin taking these yoga classes.
Mat and chair yoga classes are available for all Veterans enrolled in health care at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System - including community clinics - regardless of age, gender, and combat status. Veterans must be referred by a VA clinician and can make appointments through the VA scheduling department or can simply join class on a drop-in basis. Some of these class are also provided to Veterans at their local VA community clinic. Class format and times can be found in the yoga class schedule section on this web page and complete schedule and locations are listed on the printable yoga class schedule.
Yoga Nidra Meditation
CA WRIISC also offers a weekly yoga nidra meditation class by phone to all VA enrolled Veterans regardless of location or geographic location. Yoga nidra is a spoken word guided meditation that promotes a sense of deep calm while enhancing awareness. The meditation class follows the 10 stageiRest™ protocol. During class Veterans:
- Discover a heartfelt mission & purpose and establish a goal for the meditation
- Establish and connect with an inner safe haven
- Explore the connection between body sensations, emotions, thoughts and beliefs with an awareness of how thoughts and emotions affect the body and mind
- Experience the inner joy that is always present and develop a deeper awareness
- Connect with an inner strength & resiliency in order to more appropriately respond rather than react to situations in life
Veterans may also benefit from the restful sleep-like state achieved during the meditation
CA WRIISC provides this meditation class to referred Veterans from the comforts of their own home.
When practiced regularly, yoga nidra meditation can help reduce stress, ease pain, improve sleep and provide the practitioner with a sense of calm and well-being.
Veterans may join the class at any time and VA clinicians can refer their patients to this class with a consult request to IFC WRIISC Yoga Wellness.
Note: If the consult template is not yet installed at your VA facility, please contact Louise Mahoney at Louise.firstname.lastname@example.org
When are Classes Offered?
Yoga Class Schedule
Classes for All VA Enrolled Veterans
The following class is offered by telephone to all VA enrolled Veterans
- Thursday 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Pacific Time - Yoga Nidra Meditation by telephone, all Veterans
- Call 1-800-767-1750 Use Access code 24953#
Classes for Veterans enrolled in Health Care at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS)
- Monday 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm - Mat and Chair Yoga, VAPAHCS Veterans + Telehealth at the Community Clinics + Telehealth at Menlo Park Vet Center
- Monday 4:00 pm - 4:30 pm - Restorative Yoga/Yoga Meditation, VAPAHCS Veterans
- Tuesday 2:00pm - 3:00 pm - Chair Yoga, VAPAHCS women Veterans + Telehealth at the Community Clinics
- Tuesday 3:15 - 4:15 pm - Qi Gong, VAPAHCS Veterans
- Wednesday 10:30 - 11:30 am - Mat yoga, VAPAHCS Veterans and Santa Cruz Valley Vet Center Veterans
- Wednesday 11:00 am - 12:00 noon - Mat Yoga, VAPAHCS Veterans
- Wednesday 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm - Mat Yoga, at Menlo Park, VAPAHCS Veterans
- Thursday 10:00 am - 11:00 am - Chair Yoga, VAPAHCS Veterans
- Friday 10:00 am - 11:00 am - Chair Yoga, VAPAHCS Veterans + Telehealth at the Community Clinics
- Friday 10:00 am - 11:00 am - Mat Yoga at the Monterey Community-based Outpatient Clinic
Download the Yoga Class Schedule (pdf) for class locations and Telehealth yoga locations.
How do I enroll?
- VA-wide Yoga Nidra Meditation classes
Enter an IFC WRIISC Yoga Wellness consult request in the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS)
If you have trouble finding the consult in CPRS, please contact Louise Mahoney at Louise.email@example.com
- Palo Alto Yoga Classes:
- Enter a "WRIISC Yoga Wellness" consult request in the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS)
- Clinical Video Telehealth Classes:
- Enter a "Yoga Telehealth Wellness" consult request in the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS)
Veterans will receive instructions for joining the classes after they are referred.
For more information contact Louise Mahoney at (650) 849-0407 or at wriisc.ca.@va.gov
Do you have any online resources?
The following resources are available for viewing or listening online.
Gentle Mat Yoga Class - led by Louise Mahoney
Women Only Gentle Mat Yoga Class - led by Kathryn Berndtson
Body Sensing - recorded 10-11-2018 - led by Louise Mahoney, MS, RYT-500 - 40:35
Feelings/Emotions - recorded 10-18-2018 - led by Louise Mahoney, MS, RYT-500 - 39:46
Body Scan - led by Tim Avery, PsyD - 7:56
- Testimonials on Youtube
iRest Yoga Sleep Guided Meditation
Integrative Health and Wellness Research
The CA WRIISC is actively studying the beneficial effects of yoga for Veterans in both the clinical yoga program and in funded research studies. There are two funded yoga treatment studies at CA WRIISC. One study is actively recruiting.
- A VA Merit award to determine whether a breathing meditation technique (Sudarshan Kriya Yoga; SKY) provides a treatment benefit that is as effective as the standard psychotherapy (Cognitive Processing Therapy, CPT-C) for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - currently enrolling Veterans
- A joint DoD-VA funded study using yoga as treatment for chronic pain in Veterans from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm - enrollment period is now closed
More information about both of these studies can be found on the Volunteer for Research section of this website.
Yoga Program Evaluation
Veterans who participate in yoga classes at the CA WRIISC are periodically asked to complete a program evaluation questionnaire. While this is not strictly research, information gathered can be useful to determine which Veterans might benefit the most from the practice of yoga. The table below provides a summary of the most common symptoms endorsed by Veterans attending CA WRIISC yoga classes and the percentage of those who had “Some” or “Complete” improvement in those symptoms.
Publications and Presentations
- Results from a clinical yoga program for veterans: yoga via telehealth provides comparable satisfaction and health improvements to in-person yoga - published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, April of 2017
An analysis and discussion of the WRIISC yoga program evaluation data can be found in a recentpublication -
- Yoga as Treatment for Chronic Post-Deployment Health Conditions
May 3, 2016, Peter J. Bayley & Louise Mahoney
For more information about the CAM program contact:
3801 Miranda Avenue, Mailcode 151Y
Palo Alto, CA 94304-1290
Phone: 1 -650-815-9463