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 therapy, meditation, and yogic spirituality, 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 (Sedona Yoga Festival and Minneapolis Yoga Conference), and corporations, such as Microsoft and Amazon. She is an ordained swami and initiates sincere seekers into the Kriya Yoga Lineage. She is a C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, YACEP, 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 Gartner – Richard’s style is paradoxically both unique and universal. His instructions allow for any student to approach the practice, embracing all levels of experience and ability. This allows for anybody to explore their own unique structure and make every practice their own.
This philosophy is carried over to Onward Facing Yoga, an app Richard released in September 2015. The eleven sequences on Onward Facing Yoga playfully explore various aspects of yoga philosophy, anatomy and breathwork, at various levels of challenge. This results in a robust yoga curriculum that allows anybody to listen inward and choose a practice that’s right for them.
Richard’s approach is influenced by his primary teacher, Tias Little. Tias developed Prajna Yoga, which means ‘the yoga of deep insight.’ Tias describes Prajna Yoga as a ‘style-less style’, where the yoga should fit the student and not the other way around.
For Richard, this ‘style-less style’ means a yoga practice should be vibrant, in-the-moment and multi-disciplinary. His teachings fuse traditional posture and breathwork with contemporary anatomy and bodywork. He draws from many forms of yoga, fascial release, mindfulness techniques, and common sense.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.