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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,

kim avery uttara yoga
Kim Avery

Kim has always enjoyed being physically active, with a passion for a healthy lifestyle and natural healing. She discovered the calming, centering affects of yoga during a difficult time in her life, and has since become devoted to growing and deepening her practice.

kim avery yoga uttara roanoke

Kim studied with Jill Loftis and Katie Silcox in the Uttara Yoga 200 hour teacher training as a continuation of her journey toward growth and healing. Having raised and homeschooled her 5 children as well as teaching in numerous other capacities, Kim has always been a teacher at heart. She also enjoys spending time outside in nature, painting, gardening, reading, hiking, dancing, and biking.

Kim's goal is to use her yoga training to help others develop tools for finding peace in the midst of the stresses and traumas of life. With a spirit of kindness and compassion, she hopes to inspire her students to deeper awareness of their inner beauty and self-worth.

sarah bowles uttara yoga
Sarah 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.

sarah bowles yoga uttara roanoke

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 recent 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.

suzanne gardner yoga uttara roanoke
Suzanne Gardner

Suzanne has been practicing yoga for eight years and is a recent graduate of the Uttara Teacher Training program. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Master of Education in Reading.

suzanne gardner yoga uttara roanoke

As a single mother of three and a reading teacher for at-risk youth in an urban setting, she has seen firsthand 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 effect 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.

elizabeth gentiluomo yoga uttara roanoke
Elizabeth 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.

elizabeth gentiluomo yoga uttara roanoke

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.

lee Hardin uttara yoga roanoke
Lee Hardin
In 2013, Lee completed her 200-hour Yoga Alliance teacher training with Jessica Jollie of Yoga Landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She has been practicing yoga for six years, and 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.

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.

grace hicks uttara yoga roanoke
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.

grace hicks uttara yoga roanoke

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.

grace hicks uttara yoga roanoke
Laura 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.

grace hicks uttara yoga roanoke

As a school psychologist in an urban community, Laura has incorporated her knowledge and practice of mindfulness, yoga, and psychology in her work with disadvanted 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.  

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:

kimberly vest uttara yoga roanoke
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.

kimberly vest uttara yoga roanoke

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.

wendi wagner uttara yoga roanoke
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
Terry Flaherty

terry flaherty yoga pose uttara roanoke
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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