Teachers

jill.trainingJill Loftis
Jill began practicing yoga as a way to make peace with her body after childbirth. Her true spiritual evolution began when she discovered the teachings of Goswami Kriyananda and the Temple of Kriya Yoga. Through the profound impact of extensive training through the Temple, she was able to find meaning, purpose and healing in her life, while still being fully engaged in her dharma of mothering three children.

training.jill

While still in training, she began teaching at Bethany Hall, a local drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. In 2008, this work inspired her to open Uttara Yoga Studio in Roanoke, VA, with the vision to create a safe and sacred space to share the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the practice. The Uttara community has blossomed beyond her dreams into a diverse group of yoga practitioners and seekers. The Studio now includes 200- and 300-hour yoga teacher training programs, and a program to mentor new yoga teachers.  Jill radiates a fierce, nurturing presence that will challenge you to explore the limits of your body and mind, and yet feel supported and held in a safe space so you can meet yourself with honesty and an open heart. Her yoga classes weave together Kriya Yoga with her studies under many gifted yoga teachers, particularly Kim Schwartz, Gabriel Halpern, Andrea Boyd and Jeffrey Cohen.

Jill teaches yogis of all ages, and has brought the practice to local preschool, elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as a number of local colleges and universities.  She is a Barratt Breath Institute individual and group Breathwork practitioner. In addition to yoga classes, she leads workshops and weekend trainings on a variety of topics, including meditation, stress reduction, life transformation, and astrology. She leads retreats locally and internationally, and is looking forward to hosting her next retreats in India in March of 2017, and in Scotland in 2018.  She writes the Astrology column for THIS! magazine, and is Adjunct Faculty at Roanoke College, teaching a course on yoga.  Keep up with Jill via her blog, uttarayogastudio.com/blog.

Erica Austin
In October of 2013 Erica Austin began a weight loss journey to lose 100 pounds after the birth of her second child. With a starting weight of nearly 300 pounds, she had to start slowly with low impact exercise such as walking, swimming and gym machines. In January she decided to try a yoga class since it was low impact — in a dark room with low intimidation where she could hide in the back in case she needed to rest or couldn’t do what everyone else was doing. That decision forever changed her life. Yoga was not only fun, it also became a way to heal all the broken parts she had been trying to glue together for so long. Yoga gave her permission to modify the movements to suit her rapidly changing body. She began to connect to a deeper power within herself and feel love and gratitude for how her body served her. She learned to let go of the judgment she had been carrying and focused on proper nutrition and health as opposed to simply weight loss. The 100-pound goal came and went and then some; for her anxiety and depression she traded meditation for medication. With self-acceptance and self-love, along with her new healthy lifestyle choices, her body had began healing itself. She aspires to give her students the tools that will help them find their own path love, peace and healthy living. To realize yoga is accessible for ALL bodies. Offering a variety of modifications and modeling self-acceptance she makes her classes suitable for all levels of practitioners. “No matter what is ailing you, if you trust the process, there’s a yoga pose for that!”

SarahB-BWSarah Bowles
Sarah began her yoga practice six years ago in acting school as a means of becoming more present in her body before performances. After graduating from school, she continued her practice in LA while pursuing acting and music until she moved back to Roanoke to record an album with a local studio.

While transitioning from living in Los Angeles to living in Roanoke, Uttara became a safe place for Sarah to focus on being present, while deepening her journey into the self. She is a graduate of Uttara’s 200 Hr Kriya/Tantra Teacher Training Program with Jill Loftis and Katie Silcox.

She is passionate about teaching her students how to ground themselves in their bodies by connecting to Mother Earth through breath and awareness; and using the teachings and practices to stoke the eternal flame that lies at our very center. In the future, Sarah hopes to weave her yoga practice together with her music to create songs that can act as mantras that help to bring in more light and awareness to herself and to her students.

Ninette Carnevale
Ninette is a graduate of the Uttara Yoga Teacher Training program.  During her training she noticed a very distinct difference of what most athletes could do in class versus traditional “yogis”.  That is when she knew she wanted to bring yoga to athletes.  She is furthering her training and learning therapeutic style yoga which relates directly to athletes and her ability to teach classes that target their typical trouble areas.

suzanneBWSuzanne Gardner
Suzanne has been gratefully and joyfully practicing yoga since 2008 and received her RYT 200 Yoga Alliance certification in 2015. She is currently working toward her 300 RYT through the Advanced Yoga Teacher Training at Uttara. In addition, Suzanne has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master of Education in Reading.
As a solo mother of three and a reading teacher for at-risk youth in an urban setting, she has seen first -hand how the strength and flexibility she has gained on the mat can be directly transferred and applied to coasting through the waves of life. She attributes her successes and ability to roll with the punches to the physical, spiritual, and emotional benefits of yoga. Her friends and loved ones probably tire of her suggesting yoga as a solution for all of life’s ailments. She is continually amazed at the hope and change that come about in people when the philosophies and practices of yoga are applied. Suzanne uses her knowledge of the energetic effects of asana, pranayama and mediation to create classes that encourage her students to become more aware of the power of prana to effect change within their own bodies, and to find inner peace by connecting with the higher Self.

elizabethBWElizabeth Gentiluomo
Elizabeth is a University of Virginia graduate who received her 200 Yoga Teacher Training certification through a comprehensive program at the Marianne Wells Yoga School in Cahuita, Costa Rica. She is registered through the Yoga Alliance.

Initially drawn to yoga for fitness, she quickly realized how it quieted her racing mind (a rare feat for a mom of three!). She continues to practice for the love of self-discovery, the feeling of gracefulness and the joy and happiness it brings. She enjoys teaching many styles of yoga but her focus is bringing her students safely to a place of calm and peace. She is willing to customize classes to meet your needs.

Forever a student of the practice, Elizabeth is grateful for the loving wisdom her teachers have shared with her and looks forward to practicing with you.

LeeHardinBWLee Hardin
In 2013, Lee completed her 200-hour Yoga Alliance teacher training with Jessica Jollie of Yoga Landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She has been practicing yoga for six years, and continues to find inspiration in the truth that her yoga practice is never routine, never stagnant, nor ever mastered. The true union of yoga provides the opportunity to continuously experience oneself more deeply, transforming life positively on many levels – the body thrives, the mind clears and the spirit flourishes.

Lee finds it a privilege to be teaching all she has learned as well as to be sharing her passion for yoga with the community. Her intention is to infuse her classes with strength, compassion, creativity & joy. She finds that her teaching is ever evolving and changing, just as we all are as individuals. Outside of the studio, Lee is the mother of three. She enjoys reading, designing interior spaces and continuing her education as a student for life.

susiFaceBWSusi Hutchison
Susi Hutchison is a graduate of the Uttara Teacher Training Program. The voice in her heart brought her to the realization of a sense of “home” that she experiences when sharing the practices of mindfulness, self awareness, and self-care. Her focused and deep personal practices continue to inspire her and help her to nurture her calm presence and compassionate voice.

Susi draws much inspiration from the sweetness of nature and Mother Earth. She loves to take photographs as she wanders and hikes, finding beauty and peace in the smallest of actions and gestures. Her previous experience in the corporate world created many opportunities to develop skills helping to blend and balance a busy life with spiritual growth. She is now whole-heartedly stepping forward to share what she has learned with the community.

traviskendrickTravis Kendrick
Travis Kendrick (RYT 500) recently finished his MFA in Theatre Directing from the University of California – Irvine.  He joined the Mill Mountain Theatre team in Roanoke as Education Associate, and is excited to be back in Virginia after being raised in Hopewell.  Travis has a passion for self-expression through movement. He likes to think of the yoga practice as a moving meditation – an opportunity to “dance” through the physical postures, exploring how movement translates internally by using the breath as a channel between the physical body and mind. 

Certified through Yoga Alliance to teach Vinyasa Flow & Interdisciplinary Hatha Yoga, he completed his 200 hour yoga teacher training program at Frog Lotus Yoga in North Adams, Massachusetts and 500 hour advanced teacher training with Frog Lotus Yoga International in Thailand.  Travis continued his yoga training in New York City by participating in the Yoga Vida Advanced Yoga Instructor Mentorship Program.  He has taught all different styles in levels all over the country, and is excited to “return to his roots” here in Virginia!

image1Gabrielle Kidd
Gabrielle began her yoga path 4 years ago after being gifted a mat and DVD from a loved one.  She began a gentle home practice and attending classes. Yoga began to unveil a whole new level of gratitude for life, spirit, and the physical body. It was the beginning of a powerful healing – giving praise, love, and honor for what the mind and body are capable of instead of what is lacking.

In 2013, Gabrielle was exploring the idea of pursuing yoga teacher training but became pregnant which brought distance to her yoga practice and unfortunately her relationship with the Divine. After giving birth to her son and learning to survive as a new mother, she knew she needed to return to her practice and her spirituality.  Reestablishing a home practice and attending class became a blessing of “me time” along with discovering and journeying into breath work. She was led to the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and, soon after, everything started falling into place. She realized how yoga was saving her life as a newly rebirthed & struggling mother, mending her relationship with God. She knew deepening her understanding of the path and practice would lead to a reawakening of her soul.

Her inspiration and gratitude come from her son, who transformed and realigned her life; her devoted teachers who speak their truth,; momma Earth; culture, art; and the sacred Kriya lineage.

She is a graduate of the Uttara Yoga 200 hr Kriya/Tantra teacher training and is registered with Yoga Alliance.  She has also studied bioenergy with Mietek Wircus and Barratt Breathwork with Kathleen Barratt. Her intention is to grow alongside her students, guiding them from their hearts while also in return, receiving their teachings in this garden we call Life.

LauraBWLaura Leonard
Laura Leonard is a dreamer and a lover of life, constantly inspired to grow, learn and seek adventure.  Laura began her journey on the yogic path in 2005 while in graduate school in the beautiful and majestic Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.  Once introduced, she knew immediately that the practice of yoga would become a consistent thread weaving throughout the fabric of her life.  It didn’t take long for Laura to begin to feel the beautiful difference that yoga was making—physically, spiritually, and emotionally—both on and off the mat.  Laura continued to deepen her practice after moving to Roanoke, as well as through seeking out opportunities to visit different studios while traveling the country.  She jumped at the chance to be a part of the first Uttara Yoga Teacher Training, and completed the 200-hour program in 2014 under the divine guidance of Jill Loftis and Katie Silcox.  Laura is grateful for the chance to have learned from a variety of yogis along the way, and blends these teachings and traditions together to create energetic yet restorative classes, with a focus on mind, body, and breath awareness.

As a school psychologist in an urban community, Laura has incorporated her knowledge and practice of mindfulness, yoga, and psychology in her work with disadvantaged youth, helping them discover and deepen their inner strengths. In addition to teaching in the studio setting, she has taught yoga to classroom teachers and students, and even inspired her own mother to take up yoga in her late 50s.  With every class Laura brings peace, joy, and a warm smile to the mat and shares it with those whom she guides.  She is inspired by each of her students, who have become her greatest teachers. Om Shanti.

HarrilynBWHarrilyn Mills
Harrilyn began her yoga journey in 2009 at Uttara. There, under the guidance of gifted teachers, she began to learn how to live more joyfully and more authentically through breath, movement, and self-study. The journey eventually led her to the 2013-2014 Uttara Yoga Teacher Training where she feels blessed to have been part of a deep-seeking, trainee tribe under the loving, wise eyes of Jill Loftis and Katie Silcox. She has also had the privilege to study Restorative Yoga with Lisa Bergly, and Meditation and Hanna Somatic Yoga Therapy with Gracia Gimse McKinley.

For her day job, Harrilyn teaches English and French at Cave Spring High School. In addition to practicing, favorite things include feeding friends and family, hunting for her new favorite Zinfandel, walking a labyrinth of paths through her neighborhood in Raleigh Court, and sometimes dancing for no particular reason.

vanessaBWVanessa ‘Vani’ Fassié Moses
Vani is a Roanoke native and has an extensive background in teaching Dance and the Arts with a B.A. in Dance and an M.A.L.S from Hollins University as well as a M.F.A. in Photo/Film from VCU. While completing her Integral Yoga® 200hr teacher training program in 2008, Vani became interested in therapeutics and several years later found herself studying to become an Occupational Therapist. In 2012 she graduated with a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and is currently working in the Acute Care Setting at Roanoke Memorial Hospital.  Vani has been practicing yoga for over 15 years and was first introduced to Yoga through the Ashtanga Yoga practice and considers it a great blessing and honor to have been a part of Uttara since its inception in 2008! Since joining the Uttara staff, she has had the pleasure to explore a variety of teaching experiences including Integral, Hatha, Yin, Vinyasa/Power, and Hot Yoga classes.

In May of 2015 she had the great blessing of welcoming Orion Isaac Moses into the world. The process and journey of pregnancy, birth, and now motherhood has greatly transformed who she is–and she feels so far this has been the greatest series of teachings possible! Whatever style she is teaching her instruction focuses on conscious use of the breath and bandhas, anatomical awareness, sensitivity to the energy body, cultivating compassion for ourselves and others, and an active but gentle control of the mind to access the healing power of the here and now. She is committed to a path of healing and empowering others to realize that they have the ability to heal themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. She is eternally grateful to her many teachers including Nora ‘Vimala’ Pozzi of Integral Yoga® Richmond, the staff of Uttara Yoga, her husband Bobby, son Orion, her family, friends, and all her students. Vani is excited to share her love of working through the body to achieve and maintain inner and outer wellness. Jai!!! Feel free to visit her at: www.vanessafassie.com.

Tim Saunders
Tim began his yoga exploration in 1997 as a college student, bartering babysitting duties for the opportunity to attend Kundalini classes at Lighten Up Yoga (Asheville, NC) with Sierra Hollister. While physically humbling and defeating at first, he deeply appreciated the reflective and introspective quality yoga offers. Little did he know, Sierra planted a contagious seed of positivity and grace which continues to inspire him. A few years later, while in Key West, he began a steady Bikram practice which helped him improve his strength, endurance, fortitude and understanding of discipline and attention to detail.

In 2002 he returned to Asheville, NC and graduated from Asheville Yoga Center Vinyasa Flow Teacher Training. Under the excellent care and stewarding of Stephanie Keach, he continued to blossom as a student and to embody his future as a teacher. Upon graduating from the AYC, he began teaching at AYC for the next 6 years as well as the YWCA and YMCA. While living in Asheville, he had the opportunity to study Iyengar with Lillah Schwartz, Cindy Dollar as well as explore Anusara and Yin Yoga.

Alongside his yoga practice, Tim cultivated a love and reverence for herbalism, wild foods, nutrition, gardening and social justice. He realized yoga is much more than asana alone, and he strove to understand his duty to place, community and equality. He began understanding that yoga was not the pursuit of perfection but the self-love of imperfection. He began exploring other healing modalities within shamanism and plant-spirit medicine as a way of processing and digesting patterns and habits, old grief and wounds, which yoga helped illuminate. In recent summers he taught yoga at healing retreats in Peru.

He sold his home in Asheville the last day of 2012, and began transitioning to his hometown of Roanoke. He grieved his loss of Asheville community as he re-established his roots here. Gratefully, he found his way to Uttara and quickly realized his tribe was also alive and well in our star city. He is immensely humbled by the grace and wisdom of the Uttara community. In 2016 he completed the Uttara Teacher Apprenticeship. He realizes all students come to the yoga mat with different objectives and goals. He honors everyone’s personal practice, and he hopes to inspire a sense of service, empathy, compassion, and self-care within his classes.

kimberlyBWKimberly Vest
Kimberly has been practicing, studying and teaching yoga for the past 25 years. She grew up in Salem and lived in Seattle, Washington for many years where she owned her own yoga studio. Kimberly teaches many different styles of yoga with her foundational training rooted in the Integral yoga tradition founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda.

While living in Seattle, Kimberly trained and studied in the Viniyoga tradition. This approach to yoga evolved out of the teachings transmitted by T. Krishnamacharya and T.K.V. Desikachar of Madras, India. Vini means to adapt and through this training, she became very skillful at adapting classes to the needs of her students. Most recently, Kimberly has completed a 9 month yoga immersion in Anusara yoga, as well as completed trainings in Somatics and Yin yoga.   These trainings continue to expand her understanding of the energetic and spiritual nature of the practice of yoga.

Kimberly’s classes promote a gentle and restorative asana practice that connects the body, mind and spirit through the integration of pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation and relaxation. She honors the tradition of Yoga, and yet accepts the Western lifestyle with its fast and busy pace and the stresses caused by living in this chaotic world. Her loving kindness and graciousness of spirit are the reflections of a Yogic lifestyle, which she embraces every day.

Kimberly loves working with women and supporting women during the birthing process by acting a doula. She is a certified pre-natal, labor and delivery, and post-natal yoga instructor.

Kimberly also is a belly dancer and has been belly dancing for 15 years. She enjoys working with women of all ages, shapes and sizes, by teaching them the art of belly dance. She creates a safe environment where women can explore their creativity through movement and body awareness.

wendiBW2Wendi Wagner
Wendi Wagner completed her RYT 200 in 2014 through Uttara Yoga’s Teacher Training program. She has a background in movement and dance education, with an undergraduate degree in Dance from James Madison University and MALS/MFA through Hollins University. She has studied Anusara Yoga with Deirdre Smith Gilmer; Jivamukti Yoga with Mary Brown, Andrea Boyd and Sharon Gannon; and Yin yoga with Richard Gartner. Currently she is working toward a 500 hour certification with Katie Silcox focusing on Tantra and Ayurveda.Studying the teachings of the Yoga Sutra, she explores the journey from outer to inner knowledge and cultivating freedom through daily practice and meditation.

sallySally Dallas Wesley
I discovered yoga at a time when my longstanding passion for fitness had been sidetracked by overuse injuries. I was inspired to learn more after my very first class and continue to be fascinated by how the body works and how important the mind is in that process. It is truly an amazing experience when we learn to quiet our mind and begin to better understand ourselves and our world.  My love for yoga’s restorative and healing power led me to complete Uttara’s 200- hour yoga teacher training program. Under the mentoring of knowledgeable, loving and patient teachers, yoga has become an important part of my life-long journey.

My philosophy is “yoga anytime, anywhere.” I enjoy all types of yoga — from an energetic Vinyasa class to a grounding Yin class, or the rejuvenation that comes from Restorative yoga. Everyone truly has the capacity for miraculous transformation, and yoga is an excellent catalyst for change. My goals as a teacher are to provide a safe, peaceful, loving environment; to meet my students where they are; to stimulate a desire to practice; and to provide assistance in facilitating physical and mental wellness. Yoga saved me and is helping me realign to an authentic life. It is ever changing and full of “aha” moments!

GUEST INSTRUCTORS

terryBWTerry Flaherty
Terry’s personal growth has been characterized by movement in outdoor exploration, dance, family, and travel. Eventually, each of these paths directed her toward yoga and a fuller life. Her career in natural resources management led her to locations offering immersions in varied yoga and healing arts practices.

After years of seeking flexibility for dance, balance in career and family, and clear focus through a variety of yoga styles, Terry discovered a practice with a Kripalu yoga teacher that rekindled a smoldering spark of passion. The combination of breath-work with disciplined and free flowing meditative movement reconnected Terry with an early awareness of body-mind-spirit unity. Within a few years, she sought certification as a Kripalu yoga teacher at 200 and 500 hour levels in order to share the practice that invited her return to creative passionate living. She completed a second round of advanced training in yoga instruction in the related Pranakriya style shaped by Yoganand Michael Carroll, mainly as an excuse to continue studies with this brilliant teacher. She is registered with Yoga Alliance as a 500 hour RYT and is updating her registration to E-RYT while working toward certification in yoga therapy. Terry is a Reiki Master having trained with Marybeth Dark and Libby Barnett and is a trained MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) instructor.

Terry continues to learn and create as she unravels and integrates life experiences to teach and guide others. Her emphasis is helping people reconnect with themselves through yoga and nature.

steveBWSteve Hetherington
Steve has been an athlete all his life, and is an All-American distance runner and has been a competitive bicycle road racer, tri-athlete and mountain bike racer. During his years as a personal trainer he was exposed to yoga and added it to his training routine in 2002. His knowledge, curiosity and interest in the bones, muscles and structure of the body have helped him to recover from and heal several knee surgeries and injuries.

His yoga practice has slowly evolved beyond the physical practice of asana, as he added breathing techniques, a knowledge of the elements, and the deeper spiritual aspects of the practice. He is a graduate of the Asheville Yoga Center’s 230 hr teacher training program, and looks forward to bringing the practice of yoga to other athletes, especially those who think that their inflexibility is a barr to practice. 

Steve’s classes have a subtle intensity that reflect his kindness and gentle demeanor. He creates a safe, encouraging environment for students to find their way to a yoga practice that serves their needs and intention.