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Our Teachers

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Jill Loftis, Instructor & Founder of Uttara Yoga

Jill Loftis is a spiritual seeker walking the path of the householder. As a mother of three children, she began practicing yoga in 2000 as a way to make peace with her body after childbirth. As her practice grew, she began to awaken to the idea of energy and creating a deep spiritual practice through the techniques of yoga. She discovered the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago and the teachings of Goswami Kriyananda, and everything shifted. She received her 280-hour certification from the Temple program in 2007, and has continued her studies through the Temple, completing both the Mystical Sciences and Kriology courses. She is a Kriya initiate and is deeply grateful to her teachers in the Kriya lineage, especially Kim Schwartz, David Lipschutz, Camella Nair and Gracia McKinley.

jill loftis yoga uttara roanokeShe founded Uttara Yoga Studio in Roanoke, Virginia in 2008, and has been blessed with wonderful instructors and students who continue to grace her with the opportunity to spread the teachings. Her eclectic style weaves together the knowledge of Kriya Yoga with her studies under many gifted teachers, particularly Gabriel Halpern of the Yoga Circle in Chicago and Andrea Boyd and Jeffrey Cohen of Jivamukti Yoga Charleston. Many of her classes also incorporate knowledge of the Science of Breath, as taught to her by Kathleen Barratt of the Barratt Breath Institute.

Jill is a certified Barratt Breathwork Restorative Breathwork Facilitator and is also certified by YogaEd to teach yoga to children and educators, K-8. She leads classes and workshops regionally on a variety of topics including astrology, stress reduction, and group breathwork. Keep up with Jill on her blog at www.uttarayogastudio.blogspot.com or ask her questions on her Q& A site www.askuttara.blogspot.com.

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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!

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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.

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Branden Farthing

sarah bunger yoga uttara roanokeBranden completed a 220 hour program taught by Jeffrey Tiebout at the Blue Ridge School of Massage and Yoga. He practices and teaches a traditional Ashtanga style, with a strong emphasis on proper alignment for safety; modifications and adaptations for accessibility; and a slow, deep, ujjayi breath as a point of reference for the practice and a tool for focus and energy. He is grateful to have the opportunity to share his experience and to continue to build his relationship with yoga through offering instruction at Uttara.

vani fassie yoga uttara roanoke
Vanessa 'Vani' Fassié

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 Virginia Commonwealth University. Currently her path has lead her to pursue a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy at Jefferson College of Health Sciences. Vanessa has been practicing yoga for over 10 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 power of the here and now. She is committed to a path of healing and helping others realize that they have the ability to heal and empower 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 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: www.vanessafassie.com.

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.

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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.

Blacie Hunt

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Blacie Hunt is a 2013 graduate of the Blue Ridge School of Massage and Yoga's 220 hour Yoga teacher training program. She studied under Jeff Tiebout in Ashtanga Yoga.
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There she gained knowledge of anatomy, alignment, adaptation and adjustments.  She incorporates the eight limbs into her classes, as they are the heart of the practice.

Blacie is currently pursuing a bachelors degree in Psychology. She intends to incorporate yoga and meditation into her future  psychological practice. 

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Martha Kastler

Martha is a 2010 graduate of Blue Ridge School of Massage and Yoga’s teacher training program.  There she studied Ashtanga yoga with Jeff Tiebout. Originally from Roanoke, Martha danced for many years with the Roanoke Ballet Theater.  Growing up with formal ballet training, she finally found yoga in her thirties as a welcome change. 

martha kastler yoga roanoke uttara Martha was more than ready to begin a serious study of yoga, having had several injuries that required yogic breathing and mindfulness to truly be released. In addition to asana practice, Martha is actively training to facilitate restorative breathwork through Barratt Breathworks.  She is also studying to be a Bioenergy practitioner with Mietek Wirkus and Kathleen Barratt. She is studying Kriya Yoga with the Self Realization Fellowship of California. 

Breathe to release thought and open the heart, let the flow begin; once it begins there is no end.
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Kimberly Vest

Kimberly grew up in Salem and recently returned from Seattle, Washington after being away from the Roanoke Valley for the past 15 years. Kimberly owned a yoga studio in Seattle where she taught many different styles of yoga. Her foundational training was in the Integral yoga tradition founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda. Kimberly also 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 the students.

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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.

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 has been teaching and practicing yoga for over 20 years and dancing to her own drum just as long!!

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Wendi Wagner

Wendi Wagner has been practicing yoga since 1998. She approaches yoga as a system of self-care that creates strength, balance and flexibility of mind and body. The practice of yoga creates space for one to become more fully present in daily life.

wendi wagner uttara yoga roanokeWendi has studied Ashtanga Yoga, Anusara Yoga and Jivamukti Yoga. Her class approaches asana through dynamic vinyasa sequences. Hatha flow focuses on facilitating the connection between movement and breath, developing and balancing the relationship between internal and external awareness, and cultivating an understanding of bandhas in order to begin accessing the subtle energy body. Class begins by building heat to stimulate engagement between body and breath in order prepare the body to move deeply into poses that dissolve blocked energy expressed as tension and resistance.

Classes interweave the study of Patanjali’s yoga sutras as a reflection on asana practice and its application to everyday life. Asana practice will focus on tapas (heat/discipline) and svadhyaya (self-study/reflection) with the intention of clearing inner obstacles, and moving the practitioner toward a state of ishvara pranidhana (surrender).

Wendi has been teaching movement and dance in the public schools since 1996, exploring the therapeutic potential of movement in healing mind and body. She is mom to Ciara, who inspires her and always makes her laugh.

Still the outer mind. go within. draw upon greater power.

Guest Instructors
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, (www.parayoga.com) 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 www.healthyhappysexylife.com.
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