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Our Teachers

spacer jill loftis yoga uttara roanoke
Jill Loftis, Instructor & Founder of Uttara Yoga

Jill Loftis began practicing yoga 15 years ago as a way to make peace with her body after having her second child in two years. She discovered the teachings of Goswami Kriyananda, and everything shifted. She received her 280-hour certification from the Temple program in 2007. She continued her studies through the Temple completing both the Mystical Sciences and Kriology courses and is currently enrolled in the practicing astrologer course. She is a Kriya initiate and is deeply grateful to her teachers in the lineage.

jill loftis yoga uttara roanokeShe founded Uttara Yoga Studio in Roanoke, Virginia in 2008 and has been blessed with wonderful instructors and students and the opportunity to spread the teachings. Her eclectic style weaves in the knowledge of Kriya Yoga as well as her studies with many gifted yoga teachers, particularly Gabriel Halpern, Andrea Boyd and Jeffrey Cohen. She is certified through YogaEd to teach yoga to children and educators; and has completed certification programs in restorative yoga, bhakti vinyasa and meditation teacher training.

She is certified as an individual and group Breathwork practitioner by Kathleen Barratt of the Barratt Breath Institute. She leads classes and workshops regionally and recently hosted her first international retreat to India. Keep up with Jill on her blog,

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Sarah Brannan Bunger

Sarah Brannan Bunger (200 RYT Yoga Certified Instructor, Yoga Alliance) is a Virginia Tech Graduate and has been practicing yoga for over 6 years. She studied the art of yoga through a comprehensive, inspirational, and personalized yoga course in Cahuita, Costa Rica at The Marianne Wells Yoga School. After graduating from the program, she is now registered through the Yoga Alliance in the USA. Her approach to yoga is to quiet the mind to reduce stress, and to create balance within the body to prevent injuries and increase overall health.

sarah bunger yoga uttara roanokeSarah believes everyone has a unique spirit to share with the world, and she enjoys teaching yoga to see the light within you shine. Her goal is to teach the art of yoga and self-healing, so you can share your happiness with others. Learning the basic principles, essential elements, and inner awareness of her yoga practice, she is certified to teach safely, teach confidently, and teach knowledgeably.

Sarah invites you to start exploring yoga, or continue to deepen your practice. Sarah looks forward to learning more about your practice and sharing her practice with you. NAMASTE!

vani fassie yoga uttara roanoke
Vanessa '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 Photography and Film from VCU. Vani most recently earned her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and is currently practicing as an Occupational Therapist in the Skilled Nursing Setting. Vanessa has been practicing yoga for over 14 years and was first introduced to Yoga through the Ashtanga Yoga practice. She is a graduate of the Integral Yoga® 200hr teacher training program and has enjoyed being a part of Uttara since its inception in 2008!

vani fassie yoga uttara roanoke

Since joining the Uttara staff, she has had the pleasure to explore a variety of teaching experiences including Integral, Hatha, Yin, Power, and Hot Yoga classes. Whatever style she is teaching her classes focus on conscious use of the breath and the bandhas, anatomical awareness, sensitivity to the energy body, 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, her family, friends, and all her students. In her spare time she enjoys taking yoga, dancing, spending time in nature, working with animals, cooking and eating vegetarian food, and getting together with her beautiful goddess friends! 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:

steve hetherington yoga roanoke uttara
Steve 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.

steve hetherington yoga roanoke uttaraHis 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 recent 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.

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Grace Hicks

Grace Hicks is a recent graduate of the Uttara Yoga 200 hr teacher training, studying with Jill Loftis and Katie Silcox; she is a Registered Yoga Teacher at the 200 hour level with Yoga Alliance. She has been practicing yoga for 4 years, and continues to grow with a strong physical practice as well as through her personal meditation practice and deep spiritual connection to Life.

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In addition to practicing yoga, she loves spending time with her family, particularly out in nature, biking and hiking.

During her training she studied and learned even more about the benefits of yoga and the sister system of Ayurveda to heal the mind, body and spirit. The practice of yoga and knowing more about the system has brought about deep and profound changes, growth and healing to Grace; and she hopes to share that with her students.

martha kastler yoga roanoke uttara
Martha Kastler

Martha Kastler studied Ashtanga Yoga with Jeff Tiebout. Having suffered numerous traumas and physical injuries, yoga was the first practice that showed Martha she has the potential for self healing. The deep focused practice of combined movement and breath awakened a profound desire to heal and be of service to others.

martha kastler yoga roanoke uttaraAs Martha became fascinated with breath, energy, and meditation she deepened her contemplative and esoteric practices and studies. This led to training in the healing arts of
Restorative Breathwork with Kathleen Barratt and Bioenergy with world renowned healer Mietek Wirkus.  Martha is a certified Barratt Breathwork® facilitator and is a masters level Bioenergy practitioner.

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Jeanmarie Paolilo

A recent transplant to Roanoke from New York City, Jeanmarie has been a teacher, teacher trainer and mentor at Yoga Works in New York City for the past 10 years. She continues to lead trainings and workshops on asana, the philosophy of yoga, meditation and mindfulness, and the energetic body internationally and is thrilled to have found a supportive yoga community in her new hometown. The fundamental purpose of yoga for Jeanmarie is learning to be present in the moment. She lives in the passionate belief that all things in life are possible and that manifestation requires an understanding that everything is the culmination of our thoughts. The journey of yoga leads the practitioner to a place of awareness regarding the life they are creating so they can consciously create their lives - as evidenced by her own leap from the corporate world after 20 years.

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Jeanmarie teaches vinyasa classes that blend movement with alignment and a seamless progression towards challenging poses that are broken down and workshopped as needed. She has been featured in Natural Health Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Yoga Journal and has appeared on and the CBS Morning Show. She is part of the Expert Network for, a featured contributor to The Daily Love and an Architect for Change on She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Indiana University and has completed studies toward a Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology (May, 2013). Her first book, Vibe-a-Thon (creating your life from the inside out) is available on Amazon.

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Lori Rutherford

Lori is a graduate of the 1st class of the Uttara Yoga Teacher Training. In the Summer of 2014 she completed training and certification in "Yoga for Athletes" with Sage Rountree. She is currently in training with "Warriors at Ease" to bring yoga and meditation to Veterans with PTSD, combat trauma and pain syndromes.

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When she is not involved in yoga she is raising her young daughter, Caris, and working as a nurse practitioner at the Salem VA Medical Center. 

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Kimberly 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. Kimberly has been studying Anusara yoga for the past two years and this unique style has expanded her understanding of the energetic and spiritual nature of the practice of yoga.

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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 12 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.

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Wendi Wagner

Wendi has been practicing yoga since 1998.  She has been exploring the therapeutic potential of movement in healing mind and body through dance and yoga for much of her life.

wendi wagner uttara yoga roanokeShe approaches asana, pranayama, and meditation as a system for self-care that cultivate strength, balance and flexibility of mind and body. Wendi recently assisted and participated in UYTT’s 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training and Katie Silcox’s 100 hour Yogini Apprentice Training.  She is currently integrating a tantric approach to Vinyasa, working with the vayus (the vital forces) in ways that gather prana and restore vitality. These practices focus on facilitating an understanding of prana (the degree to which we exude vitality …), and cultivating an awareness of the subtle energy body.

Her classes reflect a deep love of yogic philosophy. Through svadhyaya (self-study), we begin creating pathways to clearing inner obstacles, and moving toward a state of ishvara pranidhana (surrender to the divine).

Guest Instructors
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Catherine Cannon

When practicing yoga asana, the simple act of connecting movement with the breath begins to create a greater awareness-- first of the body, and then of how sensations in the body affect the mind and spirit.  Catherine shares with her students this awareness that their physical practice helps to create a more mindful approach to life off the mat when it comes to reacting to others, decision making and understanding emotions.

cathy cannon yoga uttara roanokeCatherine teaches a vinyasa-flow style of class which builds and maintains heat in the body and thus helps to focus a distracted mind. She wants her students to move beyond their expectations, and she creates a safe, supportive environment where students can challenge themselves through their practice.  Her teaching style is strong, yet loving; focused, yet relaxed.  Catherine is a certified yoga instructor registered with the Yoga Alliance at the RYT 200 level, and is also a certified personal trainer. 
Catherine is inspired by many teachers including Shiva Rea, Baron Baptiste, Adi Amar, Andrea Boyd and Jeffrey Cohen of Jivamukti Charleston, and most lovingly, Jill Loftis of Uttara Yoga.  She aspires for the benefits of her practice to extend all her relationships . . . epecially with her husband and their three young daughters.

Terry Flaherty

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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.
terry flaherty yoga uttara roanoke

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.

Katie Silcox
steve hetherington yoga roanoke uttaraKatie Silcox is a yogini, author, inspirational teacher and mentor to a worldwide network of vibrant, evolving seekers. She is the author of the soon-to-be-published book, Healthy Happy Sexy: Life + Soul Balance Through Ancient Ayurveda. She has studied with the world's pre-eminent teachers, scholars and visionaries in the world of mind-body health. She is a senior teacher within the Tantric Sri-Vidya-based ParaYoga lineage, ( and works in close mentorship with her teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker. In 2009, Katie was named one of San Francisco's Best Yoga Teachers Under 30 by Common Ground Magazine and is the co-creator of the first Woman-Only Tantric Yoga Teacher Training, 8 Drops Yoga.

Katie currently writes for Yoga Journal Online, has a regular radio slot on Where is My Guru, and is a nationally sponsored female athlete for Athleta. Katie is also certified Ayurvedic Wellness Educator and her studies include personal mentorship with Devi Mueller, President of the Ayurvedic Medical Association and Dr. Claudia Welch, author of Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life. Katie currently teaches workshops, retreats and trainings internationally.

Visit her website at
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