Meet The Teachers of Waynesville Yoga Center

(staff photo credit: Amber Kleid)

Jay MacDonald


Jay is a Yoga Alliance E-RYT (Experienced registered yoga teacher) and a YACEP (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider) and has been teaching yoga classes for over 12 years. She started practicing yoga over 30 years ago after a back injury in her college days and has never stopped because yoga has kept her healthy and sane!

Jay is also a certified Barre Above instructor, a certified Fusion instructor and A Matter of Balance coach. She is the Owner of WYC and teaches a variety of classes.

Jay believes that all of us stay healthier and happier by staying mobile and active as much as we can in whatever form that takes! Come visit her in one of her classes anytime!!


Leigh-Ann Renz

RYT-200, LMBT 9076, all-around bad ass

Leigh-Ann has been practicing yoga since 1997 and teaching since 2005. She attended the Asheville School of Massage and Yoga in 2008 and has been practicing massage + bodywork since 2009.

As a yoga teacher, Leigh-Ann prefers to teach flow, basics - and classes that access the connective tissue, such as yin or ball rolling. As a bodyworker, she incorporates a variety of modalities (such as Swedish, deep tissue, Thai, reflexology, craniosacral, polarity + energy work, myofascial techniques, and more) into an intuitive, customized session for each client.

Having previously been the manager of both Asheville Yoga Center and Black Mountain Yoga, Leigh-Ann is honored to now manage Waynesville Yoga Center and facilitate wellness services to her local community. When not working, she can be found in the woods - or by the ocean - with her family.


Sara Lewis

RYT-200, Certified Holistic Health Coach

Sara has practiced yoga for over 15 years and has been teaching yoga since 2014. After a 25-year career in international public health, Sara began a second career as a Certified Holistic Health Coach. Her passion for food led her to yoga when she began studying the connection between mindfulness and stress eating. Sara emphasizes alignment and posture in all her classes. 

Her flow classes, which are fun and energetic, focus on lengthening the spine and improving balance and strength. Sara’s yin classes focus on pranayama (breath work) and deep relaxation. When she’s not on the mat, Sara can be found in the kitchen creating new recipes from locally sourced ingredients, or out exploring the hills of Western NC on a bicycle. 

Candra Smith

RYT 500, LMBT 7236, Ayurveda Wellness Counselor

Candra Smith has been teaching yoga since 2006 and practicing massage since 2007. She has over 500 hours of yoga study and blends classical yoga with a vinyasa flow. Candra's classes are fun, creative and slightly challenging with a focus on a deep inner journey to Self discovery. Candra is inspired to teach yoga for so many reasons but simply put, yoga helps people become better people. Candra currently owns the Maggie Valley Wellness Center.

Michael Edwards


Michael was born and raised in Asheville, NC and has a deep love for our beautiful mountains. Michael discovered yoga in 1995 and developed an immediate affinity with it. He got his first teaching certification in 1997 with a Kripalu style teacher. Extended holds and detailed attention to alignment. His last two certifications were in 2011 and 2014 at the Asheville Yoga Center which added an element of lightness and fun. He would like to honor all of his teachers by teaching yoga as a way of life rather than as a form of exercise. His yoga philosophy is “Every yoga pose, and by extension every second of our lives, deserves our full attention, our full awareness, and our full effort. I do yoga to remind myself to live life like that.”

Amber Kleid

Amber is a yoga teacher that loves getting yummy with her poses, and her sense of humor will make you feel at ease and welcome. Her style of teaching allows students to find their own expression in each pose. Sometimes challenging but always allowing time for breath, mind and body to connect. Amber has been practicing yoga postures since the mid 90's; but her journey didn't really connect until a few years ago when she was met with some hefty health challenges. Gradually, while practicing mindfulness and patience, her health improved and she took her first teacher training in hopes that sharing her story would helps others overcome obstacles.

Ann Kline

Yoga + Pilates Instructor Extraordinaire

Ann has a nursing background, which has really helped her in the fitness world as a instructor of Yoga, Pilates, water aerobics, land aerobics, strength, step, stretch, Yogalates and other classes since 1999. She has been practicing yoga since 2000 and teaching since 2002.

Her expertise is in osteoporosis fitness, and she's been teaching Pilates since 2003. Having been with her husband during his 30 years of navy service, she's grateful to settle down in our community and excited to help students overcome challenges and reach goals, especially those with osteoporosis.

Hanna Mathis


Hanna is a native and local of Western North Carolina. She received a Bachelor's in Spanish at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. After graduation, her passion for yoga began to flourish and became a lifestyle. In 2017, her love for yoga, the Spanish language and travel brought her to the Mystical Yoga Farm on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala where she spent 22 blissful days becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher. Her time spent in this magical place brought an indescribable change to her life and to her yoga.

Hanna's training brings a unique style to the studio. A mixture of vinyasa flow and indigenous shamanic practices, her classes focus on the meaningful union of mind and body, bringing yoga to a personal level.

Abbie Wilkins

As a Registered Nurse (WCU ‘01- Go Cats!) and mother of three active children, Abbie values the importance of physical, as well as emotional and mental health. Abbie’s yoga journey began 12 years ago as a way to get back in shape after the birth of her oldest child, but she quickly realized the overall wellness benefits of yoga. In taking some time away from her nursing career to raise children, she was able to realize one of her long-term goals and receive her 200-hour yoga teacher certification from Asheville Yoga Center earlier this year. Abbie hopes to share her love of yoga and wellness to ALL people and she firmly believes that in taking care of ourselves, we are able to better nurture others. 

Katie Schomberg

Certified Wellness Coach + CF Level 1 coach

Katie...aka, Holistic HOPE Doula, is here to bring healing, open-ness, purpose, and embodiment for women.  She is the founder/creator of The Scared Space Retreats & Workshops (online & in-person), The Sacred Space Podcast, and The Sacred Self...an individual healing experience.  She is HERE to help women "return home" and find that sacred space within.

Katie's mission is for each and every woman to live and breathe from a connected, peace-filled, WHOLE-heart space.  She knows that when women begin to show up for themselves, in a real way...choosing to WAKE UP, they heal, the people around them find healing, and the world begins to change.    

Katie is also a certified wellness coach, chef, CF Level 1 coach, photographer, and yoga instructor.  She believes in a holistic approach to your personal healing & wholeness, and when needed, pulls from these aspects of her experience as well.

Kayla Vreeland

Kayla started practicing yoga in 2013 and has found it to be a constant and source of peace and  focus while navigating life's challenges. She attended her first Buti Yoga class in 2017 and immediately fell in love; not only with the great workout, but with the supportive and empowering atmosphere the practice embodies as well. Her degree in music performance and background in dance helps her bring a fresh and soulful take to the  evolutionary yoga practice. Having always enjoyed being active and finding new ways to challenge herself and others, Buti Yoga has helped her find art and creativity in her practice and elevate exercise to something vibrant and ever changing.

Melissa Rodriguez


Melissa went through her Yoga Teacher Training at MBody Yoga in Jacksonville, Fl in the style of Baptist Heated Power Yoga in 2012. She has been practicing yoga for 10 years. She loves teaching Power and Flow Yoga, and prefers to encorporate meditation, breathwork and self massage into her classes.

Melissa is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist with a B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of North Florida. She also teaches a variety of classes at the YMCA's in Asheville, including TRX Suspension Training,  Athletic Conditioning, Indoor Cycling and Kids Skills and Drills classes.

Melissa was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2013 and has been on a deep journey learning the importance of sometimes being gentle, accepting the moment and self as is, and listening to what the body needs.

New to Waynesville, she spends much of her time exploring the outdoor beauty of this area with her 3 year old son, Gus. Come take sweet Melissa's class and leave feeling peaceful and reconnected in your spirit, mind and body!


Tara Scarborough


Tara has been a student of yoga for almost 25 years.  She studied and has been influenced by the Iyengar, Anusara, and Ashtanga lineages.  Tara completed her RYT 200 training at Anahata Yoga Center in Mason, Ohio.  

Her style now includes mindful alignment cues that focus on opening and releasing to leave you relaxed, aware and free.   On her days off, you can find her up in the mountains hiking, in her boat kayaking or mountain biking the local trails.  Tara is also a register nurse having worked in pediatric ICU, and now in pre and post operative care.  Follow Tara on her FB page here.

Aja Kennelly

LMBT 10714

Aja has been working as a massage therapist since 2004. Her massage certifications include Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi, Swedish, Deep tissue and Reflexology. Aja incorporates each of these into her unique flow to encourage relaxation of the body, mind and spirit. Through massage therapy she hopes to help people find peace within themselves. 

Jillian Pagan

Jillian Pagan is a massage therapist that specializes in neuromuscular therapy, which is a combination of acupressure points and deep tissue massage specifically designed for chronic long-term pain. She is also a yoga teacher and her practice focuses on slow and strong therapeutic asana. If you haven't had neuromuscular work before and are in chronic pain please come and see her.

Alex Moody

Ortho-Bionomy® Practitioner, Yoga Instructor

As an Ortho-Bionomy® practitioner and therapeutic yoga instructor, Alex Moody is passionate about providing these tools to help foster comfort, ease and self-awareness for her clients. She specializes in acute + chronic pain management, meeting her clients with empathy and intuition. In her Ortho-Bionomy sessions, she provides self-care exercises that integrate therapeutic yoga and Ortho-Bionomy techniques; this allows clients to see longer-term results - as well as empowers them to understand and be in relationship with their pain.

Alex has lived in North Carolina for 14+ years and completed her 500 hr yoga therapeutics training at Asheville Yoga Center. In her previous life, she majored in creative writing at Appalachian Sate University, achieved her master's in higher education administration from the University of Virginia, and was a career counselor for over 5 years.

Anisha Desai Fraser

E-RYT 200, M.Ac, L.Ac.


Anisha is a thriving Acupuncturist, Qi Gong energy healer, Yoga teacher, and co-founder of Pangu Yoga. Anisha received a Masters of Acupuncture from the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture in 2006, a Certification in Medical Qi Gong in 2007 and completed her Yoga Teacher Training from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in 2008.

Her passion for offering healing through many avenues, with her deep love and experience of both Yoga and Qi Gong, lead Anisha to co-create what is now known as Pangu Yoga. She has since authored a portion of a web-based alternative textbook for Yoga I and II classes for NC State University, and has produced her own Pangu Yoga instructional DVD.

With a nurturing heart and soulful warmth, Anisha hopes to guide students toward a renewed quality of life through education, awareness and spiritual integration.

Anisha was born in Melbourne, Australia to Indian parents and moved to Raleigh, NC at age 10. Since graduating from Appalachian State University, she felt a magnetic pull toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and made them her home with her husband, Paul, and dog, Jade. Her favorite pastimes are writing, photography, singing, and jewelry making. She loves to explore the mountain dulcimer, hike and play outdoors. Anisha is an avid world traveler and adventure seeker.

She is delighted to teach at Waynesville Yoga Center, offering this vibrant mountain town her contribution and commitment to quality, beauty and substance. Learn more about Anisha and what she offers at sunandmoonhealing.org.

Joe Taft

Joe Taft believes in the power of Yoga to transform oneself physically, mentally and spiritually. Joe has been teaching in Asheville, North Carolina since 2001. He offers weekly classes, workshops and is a member of the Asheville Yoga Center’s teacher’s training faculty. His teaching style is a synthesis of dedicated hard work, deep study and a unique fusion of various schools of yoga, which culminates in a powerful system of yoga that is easy to grasp and practice.

Becca Goldstein

In her own struggle with chronic pain, Becca fell down (albeit gracefully) the rabbit hole of exploring what relieves pain and why. She emerged with a greater understanding for how we can recruit the intelligence of our brain to relieve pain, move freely, feel stronger, and experience confidence our pursuits. As a Certified Personal Trainer and student of The Feldenkrais Method, Becca specializes in awareness-based and therapeutic movement.  Becca works with people whose goals include: relieving chronic pain, rehabilitating after an injury, correcting postural dysfunctions and muscular imbalances, and finding greater ease in movement.

Trish Ann Ward


TrishAnn was born in the Appalachian mountains of W. Virginia, but has lived all over the Eastern  part of the country, landing in Asheville 19 years ago and making WNC her forever home.

She recently graduated from Asheville Community Yoga Center’s 250 hour yoga teacher training program.  She is a registered, licensed Nutritionist with a Master of Public Health and a passion for helping others find their path to a balanced and healthy lifestyle.  Her focus is to blend science, with the breath of yoga, to shine a light on this path of wellness and wellbeing.

 As someone over 50 and still very active, she believes that she can guide and role model others who want to remain active and vibrant no matter what their age.  She firmly believes yoga is a practice that can help everyone age gracefully and have an improved quality of life as they do so. 

She is currently doing self-study on the science of Ayurvedic and concepts for healthy eating and has plans for formal training next year. She also performed belly dance for 10 yeas and taught for 5, combining lots of belly dance styles into her classes.

TrishAnn is continuing her own studies of teaching yoga, the Sutras, breath work and the spiritual aspects of yoga so that she can weave these all into her yoga classes. 

Roxy Robbins

DONA certified Birth and Postpartum Doula CD(DONA); PCD(DONA), Certified Prenatal Yoga Instructor RYPT, trained Lamaze Childbirth Educator and Massage Therapy Student.

Roxy is a DONA certified Birth and Postpartum Doula CD(DONA); PCD(DONA), Certified Prenatal Yoga Instructor RYPT, trained Lamaze Childbirth Educator and Massage Therapy Student. She believes it is a privilege to be present during this raw, subtle, transformational time in life. She is honored to guide women through a therapeutic yoga practice that fosters courage and connection.

Jake Gilmore

Jake Gilmore was Born in Springfield, Missouri. Growing up in a small town, like many other folks he felt the pulling notion of "more". Feeling the pull of wanting more knowing and information, he enrolled in college at Drury University and majored in English and Writing, with a minor of Psychology in the study of archetypal symbolism. During his studies, he took a Yoga and stress course elective and his life changed direction, as he found asylum in the practicing of Yoga, an introduction of Body, Mind and Soul practice.  After graduating with honors, Jake went on to live in Palm Springs, Santa Rosa, Bodega Bay, and Modesto, California, all the while practicing Yoga, privately and in studios, up and down the west coast. He has come to rest in the mountains in Western North Carolina. He completed his 250 hour Yoga certification with eagerness to teach, to share his passion of Body, Mind and Soul

Jake values the practice of Yoga more than just the physical poses. It is the promotion of self reflection and awareness of self and others, the pathways and thoughts we all have that help or hurt ourselves in our daily being. It is to be present in the practice and not meddling in the past or future thinking, just the moment. He uses his love of making music and music in general to enrich the Yoga experience, as he knows the power of sound and intent. Exercising a 10 year relationship with Yoga, he is always ready to share Yoga with anyone willing to practice... to share pathway ideas of life longevity, self love, acceptance, Body, Mind and Soul awareness.

Paula Bortolotto

In January 2006, I came to a cross roads in my life.  My new year’s resolution was to run a marathon, or become a yoga teacher.  Thankfully, God intervened through some hip pain, and the choice was obvious.  One thing was for certain:  when I did yoga I felt better than any other activity.  That summer, for one month, 8 hours a day, I underwent my training.  Sometimes you just know that you are moving towards something that is right and good.  I have never looked back.  Every day, I am reminded of the healing power of a yoga practice, on your mind, body and spirit.  Today, my teaching reflects my journey;  Ashtanga yoga, Iyengar yoga and alignment based practices, but I’m greatly influenced with 10 + years studying and using yoga as therapy.   In my classes, I teach precise alignment with breath work to open the energy channels of the body, along with some humor to lighten your spirit.  I strongly encourage all of my students to have a daily practice of meditation, pranayama, asana’s and chanting.  It will literally change your life and everyone you meet.  It did mine.

Naema Pierce


Naema is a licensed massage and bodywork therapist who continues to expand and grow in her profession. She has had extensive training in various modalities of massage including Swedish, myofascial, deep tissue, trigger point, prenatal, shiatsu and sports.

She enjoys using integrative techniques to tailor each massage, pulling elements from all her training, to create a massage that will best benefit each of her clients. Her goal is to have each client leaving their session, feeling that their desires and needs were met, whether that’s a relaxing and nurturing massage or working on a specific nagging pain. Naema will work to provide a massage that is individually created for you.

Marla Larson

Marla began practicing yoga in 1999 on the advice from a friend then began teaching in 2003. She recently graduated from the

200-hour teacher training program at Asheville Yoga Center. She is a certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine and holds a master’s degree in Exercise Science. Marla has been practicing in her field for over 30 years and loves helping others to feel well.

Her education and experience have enabled Marla to be involved in a broad spectrum of environments. She has worked with multiple chronic diseases such as cardiac, pulmonary, diabetes, orthopedic limitations and neuromuscular diagnoses. She enjoys teaching all levels of flow classes that promote strength, awareness of the body and movement as well as restorative classes that foster stillness, self-healing and connecting with the breath.

Marla loves being with her family, including their furry children, spending time outdoors building fires on their patio, hiking and skiing. She loves to travel and share in new experiences with her beloved husband of 35 years.   

(staff photo credit: Amber Kleid)

  • “Getting a massage from Leigh-Ann has been an important part of my life for the past several years. Her professionalism and many accomplished skill techniques combined with her intuitive understanding of my needs on any given day have made her an invaluable part of my health care. I would highly recommend her to anyone, from a first timer to an ‘experienced’ user.”

    – Gail M.

  • “Jay met me prior to class to help me polish my yoga teaching skills. I really appreciate her willingness to meet and teach me to make me a better instructor.”

    – Brooke H.

  • “Amber, you’re an incredible teacher! You are a natural at creating flows that challenge and inspire your students.”

    – Michelle G.C.

  • “I highly recommend Leigh-Ann as your massage lady. She is wonderful and keeps me feeling good. I am 86 so you are never to old for one. I get them weekly. Give her a try. You will like it.”

    – Yvonne M.

  • “After my massage with Leigh-Ann yesterday, I could sleep without pain meds for the first time in years! I finally have hope that I might not need surgery!”

    – Barbara M.

  • “Leigh-Ann is awesome. She used a variety of techniques with me and they all helped. She also provided more information to help me with my issues. She is warm, compassionate and friendly.”

    – Susan S.

  • “Leigh-Ann is highly trained in many massage techniques and will work with you to assess your needs and desired outcome. She encourages your feedback to make sure that your treatment goals are being met.”

    – Helen S.

  • “Jay is an always-patient, highly skilled teacher who makes everyone feel welcome and able to participate. Her class is always a joy and rewarding.”

    – Barbara S.

  • “Leigh Ann gives the best massages I have ever had! She mixes it up so no two massages are exactly alike and I like that. And on top of that she is a warm caring person and I consider her to be a dear friend.”

    – Jeanne B.

  • “Leigh-Ann’s fingers magically find the spots that are ‘ailing’ you! She intuitively knows where you are having pain and how to relieve it. I leave each and every time rejuvenated and refreshed. There are not enough words to express how much I appreciate her therapeutic touch!”

    – Ginny E.

  • “Leigh -Ann has worked on me for the past five years. She skillfully eased the aches and pains out of my body and left me feeling relaxed. Her intuition guided her to where I needed the most attention, which always surprised me because I hadn’t realized I was hurting there.”

    – Lydia Mason

  • “Amber is an incredibly gifted instructor, particularly when it comes to yoga. She is calming, thorough, and provides that extra-added touch of essential oils, gentle adjustments, and themed practices. I love that Amber’s yoga classes are dynamic and she’s taught moves in her classes that I’ve never done in 15 years of practicing yoga. She’s a breath of fresh air in the yoga scene. I highly recommend her!”

    – Christine G.

  • “It is the most relaxing therapeutic treatment that works for me with my arthritis condition and I have a session with Leigh Ann every month.”

    – Bob T.

  • “Jay is a wonderful yoga instructor; has great variety in classes; is always dependable (there and on time); is kind and understanding; and always available to answer questions and give additional instruction if necessary. She is calm and classes are enjoyable no matter the challenge.”

    – Myndie S.

  • “After my first private session with Amber my body felt so good! Because of her guidance and personal assisting I highly recommend working with her.”

    – Barbara B.

  • “Leigh-Ann is my favorite massage therapist. She uses techniques that produce terrific results for me. I so look forward to my monthly massages!”

    – Ginger H.

  • “Since I started taking classes at Waynesville Yoga Center, I can now go down the stairs ‘normally’, instead of one foot at a time. I’m really pleased with how these classes are helping me.”

    – Carol L.

  • “Jay takes time to answer questions, to give help when needed in performing movements and is a gentle, calm person which helps my yoga experience.”

    – Anita S.

Our mission is to provide a safe and accepting space where students can learn, heal, grow - and have fun! We work to create peace in our world, communities and families by first creating peace within ourselves.

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Waynesville Yoga Center
274 S Main St
Waynesville, NC 28786