Every Thursday evening, Veterans all over the United States meet up to practice yoga. The Veterans spend an hour together, but they never see one another and likely will never even meet. This yoga class requires no travel, no membership or studio, and no special clothing or mat. Veterans perform the weekly yoga nidra session in their own space, on their own bed, couch or favorite chair. These Thursday evening classmates meet over the phone to participate in an hour of yoga nidra that follows the iRest methodology.

Yoga nidra, also called yoga sleep, is an altered state of consciousness in which participants meditate and go into a state on the cusp of the sleep state. Participants must completely relax and rest while the brain remains active and able to hear everything the instructor says, though the person may not be fully aware.

Integrative Restoration (iRest), is a version of yoga nidra developed by Dr. Richard Miller with Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Department of Defense. It was first used by soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from PTSD. This meditation method is very helpful for issues like PTSD and anxiety, sleep problems and chronic pain. Data collected from iRest participants indicates the practice improves sleep quality, reduces anxiety, and enhances resiliency in stressful situations.

Guided, weekly sessions

VA’s War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC), located in Palo Alto, Calif., offers weekly phone meditation sessions. The virtual guided meditation begins Thursday evenings at 5 p.m., Pacific time, and all Veterans are invited to join the class.

“It relaxes my whole mind and body; all stress melts away,” said Air Force Veteran Joe Valentino. “A lot of it is sensing your body and quieting your mind. So while I’m meditating, I’ll picture my blood stream running through a coffee filter that’s filtering out all the bad stuff that I’ll throw away when I’m done.”

Valentino gets his care from the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System’s medical center in New Orleans. He first learned about yoga nidra and iRest from a flyer his provider gave him.

“I try not to miss a week,” Valentino said. “It helps release anxiety, tension, helps me sleep better. I really enjoy it.”

No referral, experience, or prescription needed

Veterans can try yoga nidra any Thursday evening of their choice, without referral, prior experience or prescription. They only need a phone, an open mind and a quiet, safe space to meditate.

“This meditation is all about increasing and enhancing your own sense of awareness, your sense of being a whole person that is perfect just as you are,” said Louise Mahoney while teaching a weekly class. “We all have everything we need inside of us. We just are not always aware of it, so this meditation helps us to become aware and to allow that awareness to creep into our daily life more often that it did before. So whether you’re at work, taking care of your kids, with your significant other, by yourself, you will find a way to remain at ease and to navigate stressful situations.”

All Veterans are welcome to attend the weekly live sessions over the phone. Just call 800-767-1750 and type in access code 24953#. Learn more about yoga nidra at www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/WARRELATEDILLNESS/clinical/integrative-health/ca/yoga-nidra-meditation-veteran.pdf.

Veterans who would rather try a prerecorded eight-session series can find it on the WRIISC website at www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/WARRELATEDILLNESS/meditation/default.asp.

Learn more about VA’s War Related Illness and Injury Study Centers located in California, New Jersey and Washington D.C. at www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/WARRELATEDILLNESS/index.asp.


Jamie Mobley is a public affairs specialist at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans. She is an Army Veteran and a graduate of Kansas State University.

Share this story

Published on Oct. 23, 2019

Estimated reading time is 3.2 min.

Views to date: 778


  1. Clementina Bassi November 12, 2019 at 10:03 am

    I tried last week on Thursday 8pm EST. Called 1-800-767-1750. Access code 24953#. Recorded message stated that extension did not exist. Please let me know if the extension changed or if I have to call a few minutes before or right at 8pm.

  2. Gay Lynn Montgomery November 5, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Sadly, so few people take the time to actually read all of the information, and then follow instructions.

    The only time the number and access number work is on the day, and at the time, that the class actually happens. What you need to know is that the class is ONLY offered on Thursdays. It happens live, so that is when you need to call in. The class happens at 5 pm Pacific Time. So, you need to adjust that for your own time zone.

    The number and access code are: 1-800-767-1750. Access code 24953#
    Find the time for YOUR time zone, it’s the only time the number for the live class will work:

    Class Time In
    *Standard Time
    Hawaii 3pm
    Alaska 4pm
    Pacific 5pm
    Mountain 6pm
    Central 7pm
    Eastern 8 pm

    If can’t make the live class or don’t want to – they offer an alternative:

    Veterans who would rather try a prerecorded eight-session series can find it on the WRIISC website at http://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/WARRELATEDILLNESS/meditation/default.asp.

    All this information is in the article above.

  3. Juana Wakefield November 5, 2019 at 9:52 am

    I leave in WPB Fla, at what time would I sign in to do the virtual yoga? That may be the problem most people is encountering, where is the virtual yoga instructor at?

    • Gay Lynn Montgomery November 5, 2019 at 1:06 pm

      8 pm, Eastern Time, on Thursdays only.

  4. Miguel Lopez October 29, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    I’m interested in joining the yoga program.

  5. Carolyn Schaum October 29, 2019 at 9:49 am

    Looking for signup page…

    • Gay Lynn Montgomery November 5, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      no sign up page, just the number to call and the access code listed above.

  6. Bridget Sinclair October 27, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    I would like to join the Thursday class. Thanks

    • Sarah October 29, 2019 at 12:20 am

      I pulled this off the link
      For more information
      WRIISC CA Yoga Staff:
      650-493-5000 Ext. 62355
      * Note: Class observes daylight
      savings time. Start time may
      vary in your time zone
      Time Zone
      Class Time In
      *Standard Time
      Hawaii 3pm
      Alaska 4pm
      Pacific 5pm
      Mountain 6pm
      Central 7pm
      Eastern 8pm

      • Gay Lynn Montgomery November 5, 2019 at 1:03 pm

        Unfortunately while you have provided the correct time zone information, the number to call that you listed is incorrect. What you listed is the number for the yoga staff at the WRIISC. The number to call for the actual class is: 1-800-767-1750. Access code 24953#

        This mistake in information may be part of what is confusing people, in addition to their not reading all of the information listed. Some are calling on the wrong day and/or at the wrong time. It only works on Thursday, at the proper time based on their time zone.

        I hope this helps.

  7. Michael l Winter October 26, 2019 at 8:17 am

    Thank you for offering the yoga program to veterans.

  8. Michael l Winter October 26, 2019 at 8:13 am

    I am interested in doing weekly yoga program,
    Thank you for this gift

  9. Ray Lawrence October 26, 2019 at 1:52 am

    Hopefully I will get some decent rest.

  10. Gloria Adams October 25, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    I have been a veteran since 1978, and I have never encountered so many varied outreach activities as I have in the last few months! I like it!

  11. Mark Chapdelaine October 25, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    Sign me up.

  12. Gil Golti October 25, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    The Yoga/Meditation tele-class on 10/24 was great. Just be sure to dial the toll free number and input the code at or near the start of class, in my case, 5 PM. Also, put a note on your door to specify that you’re busy for the next hour. While doing the meditation and feeling almost in a trance-like state, my friend came knocking on the door $$##@@!!!! I feel with continued, repetitious sessions, positive results will transpire.

  13. Ken Lowstetter October 24, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    This sounds great! They may need to work out the kinks at first but this is such a great tool for anxiety, PTSD and other issues! Thanks for putting this together!!

  14. Kheller October 24, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    So you call in at the time and use the access code?

  15. Henry Vangas October 24, 2019 at 10:38 am

    I attend the weekly yoga classes in the Orlando VA. I find them very relaxing, helpful, and interactive. I enjoy the time that I spend with other veterans. The instructors are very supportive and caring, some of the positions are challenging, but the instructors make it clear that everyone attempt the positions according to their abilities. I’m really looking forward to IREST sessions.

  16. JOHN W FAY October 24, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Please count me in. How do I get started?

  17. Brett October 24, 2019 at 9:33 am

    This would be something I would be interested in but, like all other information sites giving it doesn’t work either. Thanks Again for nothing.

    • Joshua Harris (USMC) October 24, 2019 at 10:48 am

      Excatly! I even talked to an operator, turns out each session has a unique code, and when I asked how I get will another code, he says he has no idea. What in the fck! They can create the NSA to monitor every packet moving, but cannot even run a basic telephone service, AND the fcking operator doesn’t even know how it all works. Just wonderful, good thing I love being stressed out. This will be another program to shine how they are doing so much for us and it’s just another goddmn dead end. He told me he wasn’t sure who told me this code number, and 3 times I said it’s on the Va.gov website I was directed to through an email, and he said oh well tell whoever sent it… Right, that would be the VA which was who I was talking to. AfckingMazing.

      • Sarah E October 29, 2019 at 12:24 am

        Joshua I pulled this off the link
        It mentioned the actual staff
        For more information
        WRIISC CA Yoga Staff:
        650-493-5000 Ext. 62355
        * Note: Class observes daylight
        savings time. Start time may
        vary in your time zone
        Time Zone
        Class Time In
        *Standard Time
        Hawaii 3pm
        Alaska 4pm
        Pacific 5pm
        Mountain 6pm
        Central 7pm
        Eastern 8 pm

    • Karen October 24, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      Bill said in response to my post that it is valid at the start of the session. Try again tonight.

  18. Karen October 24, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Is there a code that works? 24953# is not a valid code. Trying to call 650-493-5000 ext 62355 was useless. Based on the previous comments, looks like this may be too.

    • Bill Tinklepaugh October 24, 2019 at 11:51 am

      The access code is a valid code. Unfortunately VA failed to include in the article that it is only valid at the start time of the session. That start time should be 5:00 PM Pacific time. (8:00 PM Eastern Time zone) 1700 PT, 1800 MT, 1900 CT, or 2000hrs ET

      • Karen October 24, 2019 at 3:07 pm

        Bill – thanks for your response. I will try again tonight.

  19. Carla Kuhnert October 24, 2019 at 7:22 am

    This sounds wonderful!

  20. Carl Tippen October 24, 2019 at 7:20 am

    Yoga and such religions are a very dangerous path.

    • Sha October 24, 2019 at 8:23 am

      Religion is a dangerous path and yoga is not a religion

    • Aida wiener October 24, 2019 at 8:40 am

      You’re an idiot

    • Diane October 24, 2019 at 9:16 am

      You have absolutely no clue about yoga.

    • David Whalley October 24, 2019 at 10:00 am

      Um, yoga isn’t a religion.

    • Brennan McCue October 24, 2019 at 10:09 am

      Why would you say such a thing? So it might not work for you, that doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else.

    • john elroy October 26, 2019 at 1:33 pm

      ONLY to those closed minds…which come to think of….NOTHING progressive would penetrate anyways….just the same-ole–
      same-ole sh_t

  21. Fadia Elias Janzarli October 24, 2019 at 5:45 am

    I am a Veteran with 80% service connected

  22. Lyle M rustad October 24, 2019 at 4:03 am

    Yoga nidra Looks & Sounds Interesting…. Thanks for Sharing!!! Lyle

  23. Christine mullen October 24, 2019 at 2:59 am

    I would love to do yoga and learn to play guitar
    I’m in Daytona beach fl and I do not think they offer it though

    • Diane Crumbley October 24, 2019 at 11:03 am

      At the same time? Just kidding.

  24. jose l suarez October 24, 2019 at 1:16 am

    great, about time

  25. Jack Martinell October 23, 2019 at 10:37 pm

    I would like to try by phone, the Thursday evening Yoga. I am a post Korean Vet.

  26. Therese Sykes October 23, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    I’ve been doing Mindfulness training and yoga plus PT thru the VA for chronic pain and mental trauma. I am looking forward to adding this to my therapy and to taking this on as something I can do on my own in the privacy of my own home, especially with winter setting in soon. THANK YOU

  27. Bill Meyer October 23, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    My daughter has been giving free Yoga classes to vets and spouses, at our local VFW, for about seven years now.

    • Jim Stavola October 24, 2019 at 8:21 am

      More power to her and her good contribution to vets and families.

  28. Gil Golti October 23, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    “Just call 800-767-1750 and type in access code 24953#”

    I dialed the above as instructed and received the following response: “I’m sorry, your entry 24953# is invalid.”

    10/23/2019 @6:43PM

    • Louise Mahoneyt October 24, 2019 at 2:32 pm

      Hi – I am so sorry for the difficulty you have had accessing the class.

      The class is offered only once/week and the code only works at the class time.
      On one occasion in the last few months someone cancelled the call so the code didn’t work so now I tell everyone, if you know you are calling in at the right time and day, wait about 15 minutes and call back in. I have the ability to set it up again but it takes time for me to log in and get the code set up again.

      We meet Thursdays at 5pm Pacific time (8 pm eastern). 1-800-767-1750. Access code 24953#

      I hope you try again,
      Louise Mahoney

      • Karen October 24, 2019 at 3:15 pm

        Thanks for letting us all know. Sorry about everyone’s frustration level. Sounds like we all need yoga

        • Charles Lovelace October 24, 2019 at 11:41 pm

          I scrolled far enough, many, many entries before I hit upon one that describes the sign on time and date; in a comprehensible way.

          We meet Thursdays at 5pm Pacific time (8 pm eastern). 1-800-767-1750. Access code 24953#

          I hope you try again,
          Louise Mahoney

  29. Rob Hamilton October 23, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    Well, I thought I’d give the virtual “yoga” a go on Thursday. I entered the 800# and the 5 digit code & # and got invalid message. After trying it twice I may just need a bit of restful yoga to relax..annoyed

  30. Kheller October 23, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    The 800 number with the code does not exist according to their system…great

  31. Juan Alvarado October 23, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    Do you have a regular yoga class?

  32. James Arthur Ryall October 23, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    I have been having problems with my sleep habits and need a change.
    I will do this yoga exercise to see if it helps.

  33. Pamela Wise October 23, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    How do I sign up for the on line yoga?

  34. Alice Victoria Barton October 23, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    This sounds uplifting.

  35. Enrique Martinez Galletti October 23, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    I have never take yoga class so I goin to try this one

  36. Enrique Martinez Galletti October 23, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    I have never take yoga class so I goin to try

  37. Grace Kono-Wells October 23, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    Yoga for all veterans (and civilians), their families and communities, especially those suffering from PTSD, is so important to support recovery and resilience Veterans Gratitude Week is November 8 – 18th.Look to this video series or find a yoga studio, veteran support group or clinic at your local VA that offers FREE mindful resilience yoga classes. For more info, check out Veterans Yoga Project. All teachers are certified yoga instructors and have successfully completed the VYP training. VYP-trained instructors teach over 100 free yoga classes each week for veterans and their families. By providing support to all veterans, whether they are currently struggling with severe symptoms, or they are focused on increasing resilience and giving back to others, Veterans Yoga Project is doing its part to serve those who have served.

  38. Wiĺlard October 23, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    What other

  39. Alan Stout October 23, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    Am interested in joining the weekly yoga program.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Do you have “text neck?” or pain in your head and neck? This acupressure for head and neck pain can help.

  • Significant progress has been made toward identifying, preventing, and helping those who experience domestic violence, but there is still work to be done.

  • 2022 VHA Shark Tank competition finalists will present their pitches at the Innovation Experience in October.