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.

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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 preschools; elementary, middle, and high schools; as well as a number of local colleges and universities. She is a Barratt Breath Institute individual and group Restorative Breathwork practitioner. In addition to yoga classes and training yoga teachers, 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 retreat in Scotland in October, 2019. She is a practicing astrologer, check out her website, www.NuitAstrology.com and is Adjunct Faculty at Roanoke College, teaching a course on yoga. Keep up with Jill via her blog, uttarayogastudio.com/blog.

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.

Sarah Cuthbertson
Sarah began practicing yoga and meditation in 1996, not long after arriving in the USA with a suitcase in one hand and her the two year old son in the other, ready to start a new chapter. Through yoga, sarah developed a space to find calm in the chaos of single parenthood, cultural adaptations and career building.

She completed 200 hour yoga teacher training in 2015 at Uttara, and brings to her classes an additional 34 years of experience as a physical therapist with in-depth understanding of the musculoskeletal system, how it works and how to use it safely. Form, flow, synchronicity, strength and guiding students to an individualized practice are all points of focus for Sarah’s teaching

suzanneBWSuzanne Gardner
Suzanne has been gratefully and joyfully practicing yoga since 2008. She is certified as a 500 RYT through the National Yoga Alliance. 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. Having discovered the positive benefits of yoga many years ago, she 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.

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.

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.

Travis Kendrick
Travis Kendrick (RYT 500) has a passion for self-expression through movement. He likes to think of the yoga practice as a moving meditation – an opportunity to move 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 and levels all over the country. In addition to teaching yoga, Travis has his MFA in Theatre Directing from the University of California – Irvine and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Point Park University. He is the Director of Education for Mill Mountain Theatre and teaches drama for Hollins University.

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.

Kathy Knizner
Kathy trained under Baxter Bell and Melina Meza to become certified to teach Yoga for Healthy Aging in January 2017. Kathy’s approach to teaching yoga is to help cultivate internal awareness of one’s body, mind and spirit in a way that is respectful of the wonderful diversity in each student’s journey/life, so that space is created inside for the seeds of what is sought: loving kindness, self-care, peace, equanimity, health, compassion, community.

She completed the 200-hour teacher training program in 2015 through the Sun and Moon studio in Northern Va.  Kathy’s teaching incorporates the traditional Eight Limb Path along with a focus on self-care using energy work, Yin Yoga, Myofascial Release, Viniyoga and Insight Yoga practices.

Susan Kraughto
From 2006 to present, Susan has worked full-time guiding those with special conditions in how to be physically active while they are managing symptoms associated with arthritis, joint replacements and chronic diseases and conditions. Her students are her greatest teachers in how to face daily struggles with grace, courage and resilience as they do what it takes to keep moving, despite physical limitations.

In 2015, Susan began offering Chair Yoga classes after becoming a YogaFit Level I and YogaFit for Seniors instructor. In April 2018, she completed Uttara’s 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training led by Jill Loftis and Wendi Wagner. She is passionate about offering yoga accessible to all and sharing its transformative practices and teachings.

Susan’s encouraging guidance creates a safe and supportive space for her students to reconnect with compassionate self-care, personal well-being and inner peace. She is eternally grateful to her students and teachers for their support, wisdom and guidance and to yoga for illuminating her own path toward wholeness.

David Landes

David’s background is in small business and real estate with hobbies including ultra distance trail running and personal training. In 2015 he gave up his professional pursuits in favor of a more minimalist existence. Since then he has traveled south of the border and across the US meeting with different philosophers and spiritual leaders in an attempt to quench his curious mind’s desires and grow his adventurous heart. He found so much more. David enrolled in our 200-hour teacher program to grow his personal practice but quickly felt a strong pull to teach. He hasn’t looked back…

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.

Precious McCullough-Lewis
Precious has been practicing yoga for six years and is a graduate of the Uttara Yoga Teacher Training Program. She has a background in Microbiology and Immunology, with an undergraduate degree in Clinical Laboratory Science from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Having a career with a strong technical focus, Precious was drawn to yoga and mediation as a way to center and ground her mind, body, and spirit.

Precious’ affinity for Yoga study stems from her desire to connect deeply to others and the world around her. Her practice intensified during her first pregnancy as she realized the importance of deepening a connection with Self to become a more present wife and mother. She continually strives to reflect the patience, balance and flexibility of the practice in everything she does, while nurturing her passion for the art. Precious strives to show others the benefit of Yoga, Mindfulness and Mediation through her calm, creative style of instruction.

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.

Natalie Kerschner Thompson
Natalie has been practicing yoga for eleven years, and is a graduate of the 200-Hour Uttara Teacher Training program. She first came to yoga through workout DVDs, approaching it as a way to bring some variety into a workout routine. Several years later while working in a stressful environment, she noticed how yoga was the best way for her to breathe deeply. The effects were noticeable, which made her crave more knowledge about the practice. Studying yoga, beyond the physical practice, has been a life-changing force for her.

Natalie finds it to be a joyful experience to see students also discovering how yoga practice makes them feel. She enjoys working with all levels, making practice accessible to everyone while offering options for a more challenging practice. She believes in the importance of fluid movement and daily listening to the needs of the body.

As a day job, Natalie works in Equipment Asset Management at a construction company, and she has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.

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 has been teaching at Uttara since 2010, and co-teaching with Jill Loftis in Uttara Yoga’s 200-hour YTT and Apprenticeship Programs since 2016. She graduated from Uttara Yoga’s 200-hour Teacher Training program in 2014. Wendi has a background in Somatic Studies and Dance/Movement Education, with an undergraduate degree in Dance from James Madison University, MALS in Interdisciplinary Studies, and MFA in Dance through Hollins University/American Dance Festival.

She works with Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, and the teachings of the Yoga Sutra, offering students an opportunity to deepen knowledge and experience in approaching the practice of Yoga. Currently she is studying the Vagus System with Janet Evergreen, researching the ways in which Yoga can aid in recovery and increase resilience after trauma.

She has studied Ashtanga Yoga with Arien Reed and Jeff Tiebout; Anusara Yoga with Deirdre Smith Gilmer; Jivamukti Yoga with Mary Brown and Andrea Boyd; Tantra Yoga and Ayurveda with Katie Silcox; and Yin Yoga with Richard Gartner.

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!