Fort Riley, Kansas



USO offers yoga for beginners

By Amanda Kim Stairrett | 1ST INF. DIV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE | June 16, 2015

It didn’t take a whole lot of convincing to get Staff Sgt. Corey Jackson on a yoga mat. His wife, Stephanie, took advantage of a free class offered by USO Fort Riley and instructor Beth Funk.

“I liked it so much, I signed up for the second,” Stephanie said May 7.

She convinced Corey, who has a minor back injury, to attend with her and “he ended up doing very well,” she said.

The couple spent their Mondays and Thursdays for the next few weeks in the USO Fort Riley yoga studio – converted from the organization’s regular library and computer lab – with other beginners for Flow: A Yoga Experience. The free class was so popular, the organization and instructor began a third round of classes May 28 that are scheduled through mid-June.

Flow: A Yoga Experience is “designed for individuals new to yoga who have a desire to explore the art of yoga in a safe, warm, comfortable setting,” according to information from USO Fort Riley.

“It’s been wonderful,” Corey said May 7. “That’s about it. One word.”

He said his back is feeling much better and yoga has allowed him to move a little bit better than before. Though the Jacksons have completed the three-week session, they both said they planned to continue practicing.

Funk was in a similar situation as Corey when she began yoga. After suffering from a back injury that was significantly impacting her life, she turned to yoga after attempting other remedies.

For Funk, practicing yoga went beyond finding relief from the pain.

“Learning to control my breath and find stillness on my mat taught me how to do the same thing in my life off the mat,” she said. “The more I practiced, the better I felt, inside and out.”

Funk said she hoped to share that with as many people as possible.

“Our military families need it and they deserve it,” she said. “Our families are incredibly resilient, but the more tools we have at our fingertips the stronger we can become. … I want them to see that despite the day-to-day challenges they face, they are amazing and strong just as they are. Everything they need is already inside them. As people learn how to step away from chaos and pain and find peace in the present moment, they will develop the strength and courage to overcome any obstacle.”

“We know how important resilience is and we know our military families are resilient,” Funk said. “The more tools we have under our belt, the better off we’re going to be. Our families, our spouses, they go through a lot and being able to provide something like this for them is very important.”

Corey, a former Fort Riley Soldier, is now a mechanic in the U.S. Army Reserve’s 450th Movement Control Battalion out of Manhattan, Kansas. Stephanie said she liked staying involved at Fort Riley through organizations like USO and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

“We’re just very thankful for the USO,” Stephanie said. “Very thankful.”

Opportunities like the free yoga class gave Army spouses another way to bond than just through the on-post neighborhood community. It allowed spouses to see that there was more on post than the bad stories they might hear, she added.

“This is a safe place,” she said. “This is where you’re going to meet people like Mrs. Beth Funk and get to be friends and understand how things work here on post. It’s just a whole different lifestyle. … It’s how I choose to be an Army wife at this point.”

Funk has been an Army spouse for almost 30 years and has been teaching yoga for about six months.

“I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to support our amazing Fort Riley USO,” Funk said. “The mission of the USO is to raise the spirits of our troops and families, and I think yoga is a wonderful vehicle to do just that.”

The Jacksons are vocal about their support for not only the USO, but yoga. Corey said Soldiers would benefit from units incorporating yoga into their physical training as it helps heal the injuries Soldiers encounter in their daily jobs. He even had a message for yoga critics: “They’ve got to come try it one time. They have to come try it one time and they will feel a big difference.”

Though the second round of Flow: A Yoga Experience is already underway at USO Fort Riley, those interested in future or other programs can find the organization in Building 6918 on Trooper Drive next to the Burger King on Custer Hill. USO Fort Riley is also on Facebook at

Kalyn Curtis of the 1st Inf. Div. Post contributed to this story.

Tag Resilience   Tag USO