MEET OUR STAFF
Gracia Gimse McKinley
Gracia radiates warmth and acceptance. She acts as a mirror to reflect the pure goodness and beauty that exists at the core of your being. Her students learn to rely on themselves as their own authority and trust their own experience as the ultimate source of information.
With over 2 decades of experience teaching yoga and meditation, Gracia empowers students to attune to their own inner wisdom in order to live authentic, happy and meaningful lives. Her teacher trainings support yoga teachers and other helping professionals to grow into confident mentors capable of inspiring and facilitating awakening in their students and clients.
Gracia teaches in a variety of venues, including yoga studios, conferences, and corporations, such as Microsoft and Amazon. She is an ordained swami and initiates sincere seekers into the Kriya Yoga Lineage. She is an E-RYT 500, Somatic Yoga Therapist, Certified Hanna Somatic Educator and Certified Adaptive Yoga Teacher. She and her husband, T McKinley, are the co-founders of My Spirit Community in Northfield, Minnesota.
Richard is a 200-hour Prajna Yoga instructor, which integrates the 8-limbed yoga path, body science and art into a seamless practice. The teachings fuse traditional posture and breathwork with contemporary anatomy and bodywork. It draws from all forms of yoga, trigger-point therapy, mindfulness techniques and common sense. His classes are intense, with a respect for everyone’s abilities. For more check out his website www.rgyoga.com.
Lisa Bergly, Swami Swarupananda – Lisa is an ordained Householder Swami in the Kriya Yoga tradition, E-RYT500, Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT1000) and a Yoga Therapy and Yoga Education Trainer and Mentor. Lisa has a long history of serving life via teaching beginning to advanced yoga students, serving private clients, and educating practitioners seeking training to become yoga teachers and yoga teachers on the path of becoming yoga therapists; having served more than 15,000 hours of teaching private yoga therapy and yoga sadhana guidance sessions, studio classes, workshops, advanced teacher trainings and retreats over the past two decades.
Swamiji shares the spiritual teachings of Kriya Yoga, therapeutic techniques and application of yoga with a deeply heartfelt focus in guiding seekers and yogis on the path of “remembering their true nature” and creating and sustaining their life experiences with conscious volitional action, loving self- compassion, spiritual attunement and personal worthiness to live authentically and fully.
Lisa is a program assistant, mentor and co/facilitator with the internationally acclaimed and IAYT accredited school; Inner Peace Yoga Therapy School, faculty of Devanadi School of Yoga and Wellness and is a returning guest teacher in several other Yoga Teacher trainings and Yoga Therapy training programs throughout North America. Lisa’s expertise in the business of yoga also include past studio ownership, 2009-2015(Spiritofthelakeyoga.com) and several successful yoga program developments including YA approved RYS200 and RYS300 hour teacher training programs, Yoga Bonding; a Baby Integrated Postnatal Yoga Sequence and DVD, and Santosha For Women; a training program for developing women’s spiritual groups.
With thousands of hours of training, Lisa’s professional tool box and therapeutic yoga-based skill set are quite broad and incredibly deep, covering a wide range in her scope of practice. Lisa is considered a natural and authentic healer and a highly intuitive guide and teacher.
Lisa’s classes, workshops, teacher trainings, discourses, and one-on-one yoga therapy and healing sessions are all deeply rooted in and honor the foundation of Kriya Yoga and Yoga as therapy, while still being very eclectic and uniquely woven from a wide range of wisdom teachings and personal experience.
Swamiji has a living experience of the healing practices of Kriya Yoga, a deep knowledge of yoga therapeutics and a keen understanding of structural Alignment, yoga sadhana and ritual. In every opportunity she has to share the healing power of yoga and “Serve Life ~ Serve Love”, Lisa honors and shares her innate capacity and ability to hold space with healing presence.
Her compassionate vibration is shared and offered up with grace, enthusiasm and wisdom along with a healthy level of humility; setting a living example to her student’s to laugh at themselves first, Love themselves unconditionally, and take joy in remembering, expressing, and honoring their true nature as Spirit in form, having human experiences.
Jill 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.
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, www.uttarayogastudio.blog.
Chris Pohowsky – Chris is a Certified Rolfer®, and is a Lead Instructor for Advanced-Trainings.com’s Advanced Myofascial Techniques series. Chris is passionate about competitive cycling, running, climbing, paddle boarding and yoga; his outdoor athletic pursuits go hand in hand with a strong interest in personal well-being and injury prevention. Chris has been teaching Yoga Anatomy for the past six years and enjoys a functional, cooperative, and hands-on approach to anatomy seminars, offering workshop participants a solid foundational experience from which to develop their own practice. Chris has a full-time private practice in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he also spent 8 years on the faculty of the Blue Ridge School of Massage and Yoga.
Gail Steele, RYT 500 – Gail was introduced to yoga during a prenatal class in the early 1990’s and has been teaching in Roanoke since completing her 200-hour teacher training program in 2008. Her enthusiasm has been sustained by continuing study, including Asheville Yoga Center’s Your Yoga advanced teacher training and Cyndi Lee’s OM Yoga teacher training program. As anatural outgrowth of her interest in the many strands of yogic tradition, Gail was certified as an Ayurvedic Health Counselor and Yoga Specialist by the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, and studied Ayurvedic therapies in India and New Mexico. Since 2010 she has been the owner of Blue Ridge Ayurveda LLC (email@example.com). Gail regards Ayurveda as the font of yoga therapy and a natural component of integrative health care, and has immense appreciation for the tools it provides to help us realize connection to self and spirit.