Uttara Begins a New Chapter in 2021

February 15, 2021 by Laura Leonard

Dear Students and Friends, I write with very exciting news. After 13 plus years of growing, learning, teaching, it’s time for me to move on to new projects and adventures. As of February 1, Uttara Yoga Studio has a new Mamma. My friend and colleague, Laura Leonard Clark, is now the Owner of Uttara.

Allow me a moment of nostalgia, as I look back on where we’ve been and where we’re going; both the Studio, and me. Donation classes in a church basement; the first location on Kirk Avenue – I still miss that gorgeous space (well, maybe not the leaking roof ….). My youngest child was 4 back then. My children are now 23, 21 – and that little boy is 18 years old. It’s crazy to ponder how much life was lived in those years.

I’m still going to be teaching for Uttara; still raising-up yoga teachers in the teacher training program; offering classes and workshops. And, someday, yoga travel adventures and retreats! But my focus now will be on building my astrology business; continuing to teach at Roanoke College; and creating courses. * Maybe * writing a book. And continuing my studies, particularly the yogic seminary course I am currently enrolled in at the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago.

Indulge me as well as I take a moment for gratitude. I bow deeply – giving thanks to God, and to all of my teachers, especially the Holy Kriya Lineage, for their love and nurturing and support. I bow deeply to every instructor, teacher, workshop presenter and folks who I’ve worked with through the years. You were and are an incredible team of talented, hard-working yogis and friends, and words will never express my full gratitude to you.

I bow deeply to all of you; every student I have ever had has been my teacher. And you, my teachers, raised me well. You taught me about love and acceptance and hard work. You showed me how absolutely beautiful human beings are; so perfect in their humanity; so perfectly imperfect, just like me.

I’ve had the great honor to be many, many students’ “First” yoga teacher; that’s an honor that cannot be underestimated, and it helps me to think I’ve fulfilled some of my purpose in this World.

Running the business was never my strength; but I was always willing to work harder and longer, and that, I believe, carried me through. I’m so excited to see what Laura can bring to the business and to the yoga community. It’s very much time for fresh energy and a new perspective.

Please welcome Laura with open arms and continue to support our yoga community, particularly in these difficult times. Keep in touch with me – I’ll still respond to Jill@uttarayogastudio.com emails – and feel free to check out my other projects, www.NuitAstrology.com and www.MoonSisterSessions.com. Keep practicing, yoga friends.

Deepest shanti, Jill

Dearest Uttara- It is with great honor, excitement, and gratitude that I take on this new role of guiding our beloved studio forward. I am indebted to Jill for her steadfast leadership of Uttara over the last 13+ years, and to each of you for your support of yoga in the Roanoke Valley. What a light you bring!

As a little background, I began my yoga journey in 2006/2007 when I lived in Boone, NC, and quickly found Uttara (on Kirk Ave.) when I moved here in 2009. I did my teacher training in 2014 under Jill’s and Katie Silcox’s guidance. I initially sought out the training for my own personal practice, but within about a year the opportunity came up to teach for Uttara but at River Rock Climbing Gym. I held that role (and loved it!) for many years; however, due to life circumstances (getting married, becoming an “instant-mom,” and a new full-time job) I eventually had to let it go. Besides River Rock, I taught Candlelight at the studio; taught yoga and mindfulness to youth in the after-school program with Roanoke City Public Schools; and led an early morning class at the studio we had in Salem for a short time.

I live here in Roanoke with my incredibly supportive and talented husband, Mike, and our three children—Olivia, 12; Mary, 10; and Alex, 8 (plus two cats and two dogs!). We enjoy cooking, crafting, home-remodeling, and generally finding joy in this crazy thing called life. You can also find us camping, hiking, and exploring as many National Parks and State Parks as we can. I hold a full-time job at Roanoke College, coordinating our Accessible Education Services for students with disabilities, as well as offering yoga and mindfulness for various student programs, and serving on our diversity and inclusion committee.

I recognize that this year has been a challenge for so many of us, in so many ways. We’ve experienced grief and strife on a world-wide as well as deeply personal level. While the stress of the pandemic and all that has come with it has certainly taken its toll, I have to remind myself that we are all in this together, and we can—and I truly believe will—come out stronger for it. Admittedly, I have not attended as many in-person classes at the studio as in the past, but I have thoroughly enjoyed building my home practice. If, like me, you haven’t made it into the building much this year, I hope you are finding comfort in our virtual practices, and knowing that the Uttara community continues to support and hold you.

As we make this transition together, I invite you to join me in a free weekly meditation session, offered virtually on Wednesday mornings throughout the rest of the month of February (details below!). This will be an open space for all of you to join me, as you wish, and find peace and solace in what can be an otherwise noisy world. We will meet on Wednesday mornings at 7am and I will guide is us in breath awareness and meditation to begin our day.

Want to chat or share your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to drop me a line at laura@uttarayogastudio.com or give me a call. You can reach me directly at (540) 798-0160 (for those of you who may have had my number in the past– after 11+ years of being here, I finally have a SWVA number! Please update your contacts). The studio phone will remain in operation, so for general inquiries and information, please call (540) 309-0071.

Again, I am beyond thrilled for this new opportunity and so grateful for Jill and the amazing community that she has created for us. I am really looking forward to working with all of you, and supporting you as we continue to bring yoga to Roanoke and beyond. You are an incredible bunch of humans, and I am blessed to work with you!!

With love and gratitude, Laura