San Francisco VA Health Care System
SFVAHCS Partners with Purusha Yoga to Benefit Vets
The San Francisco VA Health Care System (SFVAHCS) Strength and Wellness Program for Veterans has teamed up with Purusha Yoga, 3729 Balboa Street, San Francisco, to create a new and innovative program benefitting Veterans.
Veterans enrolled in VA health care who receive a referral and medical clearance from their VA provider are participating in an 8-week yoga class focusing on yoga techniques and practices that alleviate stress and PTSD symptoms as well as improving strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and mental well-being.
“What sets this apart is, it’s the first time our Veteran patients have had an opportunity to practice yoga in the community at a yoga studio as part of their clinical care,” says SFVAHCS Strength and Wellness Coordinator Chris Geronimo. “We’ve taken a VA program to where our Veterans are, which is in their community.”
“This program is yoga therapy,” says Joy Ravelli, owner and co-director of Purusha Yoga and founder of the Purusha Seva Project. “It’s using yoga practices as a therapeutic tool to alleviate obstacles and suffering from any variety of diseases, and to be used for lifestyle coaching to help people make healthy choices with their life.”
“As a teacher, I enjoy teaching anybody who benefits from the practices,” says Ravelli. “I feel like Veterans are a particular group of people who have certainly suffered some trauma, have given a lot of themselves in service to others, so I find it particularly rewarding to give to people who have served others.”
The class is limited to 25 Veterans. Most of the Veterans have never practiced yoga, and ages of Veterans in the class range from 37 to 83. “I’ve never worked with a group of soldiers. They didn’t know each other, yet they all melded and supported one another. Their energy is so connected to each other; they’re like a family. It’s beautiful.”
Class space, time, and instruction are currently being donated by the Purusha Yoga studio and school. The next free class for Veterans is slated to be offered in the fall. For more information about these classes, call Chris Geronimo at (415) 221-4810, ext. 2-3471. For more information about Purusha Yoga studio classes and offerings, visit www.purushayoga.org.
This program exemplifies SFVAHCS’ continuing efforts to partner with local community members as part of MyVA Access, a nationwide VA initiative to improve access to VA health care.