FINALIST: Life Moves Yoga in Killeen, TX

"Move mindfully. Breathe deeply. Live fully"

A mecca of mindfulness and peace, a yoga studio as one of the Nicest Places in America requires no stretch of the imagination. In addition to Life Moves Yoga, Killeen is also home to one of the largest military installations in the country, so the studio offers trauma-sensitive yoga and meditation specifically for servicemen and women and their families.

Named a Finalist Because: Life Moves Yoga is bringing balance to the lives of Americans who need it most, and doing it in a way that’s sensitive to their needs.

From the Editors:Who says tough guys or gals don’t do yoga? Drop into the Life Moves Yoga studio in Killeen, Texas, just outside the gates of the Fort Hood Army base, one of the nation’s largest, and you’ll find military men and women, including wounded warriors, striking poses with names like tree, bridge, and peaceful warrior alongside their civilian neighbors.

You might even find the base’s commanding officer, Lieutenant General E. Paul Funk II, on a mat. His wife, Beth Funk, opened the studio in 2017 and it’s become a second home to military families, most of who are far away from their own homes. As students—many of them enduring long separations with spouses and parents deployed overseas— arrive for classes, teachers greet them by saying “Welcome hOMe,” with the emphasis on the “om” yoga mantra.

On Wednesdays, Life Moves Yoga offers a free class called “Warriors at Ease,” with special instruction catering to soldiers who have suffered physical and mental trauma. One student in the class, Caity Underwood, 31, served for seven years but had to leave the Army because of medical problems that severely limited her mobility.

“By the time I got out, I couldn’t do a pushup because I couldn’t put pressure on certain joints,” she said. But after just a few months at Life Moves, she can do many.

“Wednesday is my favorite day,” Underwood said.

Another student is Lieutenant General Paul Funk Sr., 78. A Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran, until 1996 he was the commanding officer of Fort Hood, where his son, who now leads the base, was born.

“The whole notion of mind, body, spirit is something that can be valuable to anybody, and in particular those who have had setbacks, like being wounded in war,” he told Reader’s Digest.

Life Moves Yoga “is so many things to so many people,” commented a student posting on Facebook. “[It] creates a ripple of good throughout communities beyond its own.”

— The Editors

This yogi’s advanced far beyond child’s pose. (Credit: Judith Woodward)

Nestled in Killeen, Life Moves Yoga is more than just a yoga studio — it’s a community. Located directly outside the gates of the most populous military installation in the United States, Life Moves Yoga offers wellness workshops, yoga teacher training, professional development, trauma sensitive yoga, and meditation specifically for military servicemen and their families. Intangibly, Life Moves Yoga is home to a rainbow of community members. People of all ages and walks of life meet on the mat. Each person who walks through the door is greeted not only by the skilled and passionate teachers, but a sense of love and acceptance. Maya Angelous said it best, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Warrior pose for these spirited yogis. (Credit: Judith Woodward)

Life Moves Yoga is a home away from home. In fact, as students arrive for classes, teachers greet them with, “Welcome Home!” This might not seem like a big deal to some people, but it’s huge for our military community. So many of our students are far, far away from their towns, extended families, and lifelong friends, but the studio has become a second home to so many of them. They come to the studio to find connection, and connect they do! Everyone is welcome at Life Moves Yoga. It’s a judgement-free zone. Everyone is free to be themselves. It is warm and welcoming and everybody matters.

Stories About Life Moves Yoga

There are more stories than I can count. From the Itty Bitty Yoga classes, to Power Yoga, to Gentle/Chair Yoga classes, the sense of community spills from the studio’s pores. The two-year-olds run to their class and help pull out the mats, the power classes brim with excitement, and the gentle yogis are scattered around the room — some in chairs, some on mats. Members readily help each other with props and a friendly smile. The many layers of those who make up our classes make my heart explode.

An instructor strums a tune for some itty bitty visitors. (Credit: Judith Woodward)

My favorite transformation has been to watch the chair yogis learn and grow. The class started out small, and mostly includes those who have experienced many, many, many trips around the sun. The gentle yogis arrive early (usually about 30 minutes before class), and help each other set up chairs. And trust me, there is a system! They each have a special spot to sit. It’s so fun to watch those who initially dealt with constant pain or immobility transform into the same individuals standing in tree or warrior postures. These postures are more than just a fancy move in a class. These same movements practiced outside of class keep bodies free from injury and living life to the fullest — from the two-year-olds, to those with plenty of life experience!

Life moves quickly, make sure you stop and stretch every once in a while. (Credit: Judith Woodward)

Our teachers are beautiful on the inside and out. They make everyone feel special. They are kind, compassionate, and completely dedicated. Many of the teachers at Life Moves Yoga are trained in trauma sensitive, adaptive, and therapeutic yoga, and truly believe yoga is for everyone. “If you can breathe, you can practice yoga,” is a sentiment echoed by the entire teaching staff. Watching them adapt the postures to accommodate the unique needs of our students is incredibly beautiful to witness. Being so close to the largest military installations in the country, our teachers have ample opportunity to serve students who are dealing with a variety of ailments, including traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, and pain syndromes. They serve with love and grace, and their actions are reflective of the culture and climate of Life Moves Yoga. This place is all about love and you see reminders of this all over the studio.

Teachers at Life Moves Yoga getting ready to share their light. (Credit: Amanda Brown)