Category: Uncategorized

What is Ashtanga Yoga and Why Would Anyone Do It Ever?

by Natalie Lembeck

My first experience with Ashtanga Yoga was in 2018 during my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program. I had a regular flow vinyasa practice but had never taken a strictly Ashtanga class. I figured it would be similar enough to other styles of yoga that I had practiced and that I would have an easy time with it, more or less. Well, let me tell you: I was wrong. Once we got to the seated postures, all I could think about was how many vinyasas are in this sequence?? and who would ever do this?? Of course, we all had the option to skip vinyasas and watch, but my stubborn ego was in the way and I kept trying and exhausting myself. I was so frustrated by the practice that I refused to attend another. It would have been another year and a half before I tried Ashtanga Yoga again.

Late in 2019, I was ready to become a yoga instructor myself. The manager of the studio I practiced at in Washington, DC interviewed me and invited me to take 2 weeks of yoga classes for free, encouraging me to try the Mysore room, as that was where many of the other instructors and owner practiced and taught. Even though it was out of my comfort zone, I thought it would be the best opportunity to get to know the owner and other instructors. The first time I poked my head into the Mysore room, I was astounded. It was nothing like any led yoga class I had ever experienced. Everyone was doing their own practice, the room was hot, and the only sound you could hear was the ujjayi-like breath of 20+ yogis. It was magical. So, I tried Ashtanga Yoga again — this time expecting to practice for 2 weeks, get the offer to become an instructor, and return to my regular scheduled programming of led vinyasa classes. Oh, how wrong I was…again.

I fell in love with Ashtanga. The tradition, the philosophy, the way it presents you with the exact lesson you need to learn. The way you continually meet your ego and learn how to soften. The way it opens the body and reveals your wounds buried in your tissues — sometimes gently, sometimes not. But always, always with the support of the practice to guide you deeper into your healing. And, while the physical practice can be impressive, it is never about the acrobatics. It is the process that brings you deeper into the real practice of Yoga. It is the tools of Ashtanga (eight limbs):Yamas (ethical restraints), Niyamas (duties or observances), Asana (posture) Pranayama (breath), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), and Dharana (concentration) that guide you to the one-pointed focus of the mind, Dhyana (mediation) and eventually to Ultimate Bliss, Samadhi, and Oneness with all that is, Yoga. It is truly accessible and available to anyone, if you allow it to be. The practice meets you where you are. And as the saying goes, “Practice, and all is coming.”

Head to our class calendar or event page to see when you can catch an Ashtanga class with Natalie!

Rock Your Resolution Classes

Hop into one of our challenging or yummy weekend classes and celebrate the start 2022 with asanas!

Saturday Jan 1 // 12:00 – 1:00pm

> Flow, Sweat, Connect + Center with Candra Smith

Sunday Jan 9 // 6:30 – 7:30pm

> Power Core with Danielle Vaeth

Saturday Jan 15 // 12:00 – 1:00pm

> Warm Vinyasa Flow with Sara Lewis

Sunday Jan 23 // 6:30 – 7:30m

> Flow + Ground with Danielle Vaeth

Saturday Jan 29 // 12:00 – 1:00pm

> Flow + Tone with Lisa Manning

Saturday Feb 5 // 12:00 – 1:00pm

> Power Core with Danielle Vaeth

Sunday Feb 13 // 6:30 – 7:30pm

> Flow in Love with Yourself with Karen McGovern

Sunday Feb 20 // 6:30 – 7:30pm

> Flow + Ground with Danielle Vaeth

Saturday Feb 26 // 12:00 – 1:00pm

> Ashtanga with Natalie Lembeck


Not already a member? What a better time to take advantage of our into offer of 1 month unlimited for $89! Click here to learn more!

Register for classes via our class calendar.

300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Updates

You Spoke, We Listened

We are making a few updates to the 300-hour YTT program. We heard some good feedback about the program and have made some revisions, mainly in regards to price and timeline! We’re hoping to make this program more accessible and more accountable in nature. Please see below and let me know if you have any questions!


We have updated the price to $250 per module.
>> this is a $45 discount for every weekend!
>> if you pay as you go, this is ultimately an $810 price cut for the program!

We are offering an additional discount if you pay upfront.
>> $4050 for the program upfront .
>> this is an additional $450 discount!


We are changing to a 2-year program.* Every module will be offered once every two years. We will take missed modules on a case-by-case basis.


  1. The shorter time frame encourages accountability and commitment to the program! Doing some research on other programs, we found that a 1 to 2 year timeframe is pretty standard in the industry.
  2. The significant reduction in price makes this program a great value!
  3. The structure is closer to a 200 RYT program which makes more sense in terms of content retention and absorption.
  4. Our teacher-to-student ratio allows for more interaction and communication between both!

* if you’ve already taken a module, it will still count for the program, we will just be updating the requirements and re-launching the program early next year. If you’ve already paid for modules and want to change to paying all upfront, just email us and we will work it out together!


YA standards require a significant amount of supervision and contact from lead teachers so there is consistency in terms of content and lecture. We are remaining compliant with the standards and guidelines as they change over time.

We are planning to re-launch this program again in early 2022 with the announcement of the module dates for the year!

You don’t have to enroll in the program in order to take advantage of these modules and price changes!

Click Here to Pay Deposit

300 / 500 Hour Master Student Tracking

300 / 500 Hour Master Student Tracking

Note: you must be enrolled in the program for any modules taken at Waynesville Yoga Center to count towards your RYT-500 with Yoga Alliance. To enroll in the program – and/or get details about your status listed above, contact Natalie Lembeck:

300 / 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT)

Do you have your 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training certification? Do you want to take your teaching (or learning) journey to the next level? Have you been considering a 300/500 hour YTT program in order to get your RYT-500 status?

Join Waynesville Yoga Center for an accessible, efficient, and fun 300/500 hour YTT program!

WYC’s 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training offers several unique advantages:

// intimate group > some training programs are so packed, you feel like you’re lost in the crowd (and this can feel even worse when they’re conducted via Zoom!). Our yoga teacher training programs are only open to a limited number of participants, so you’re always part of an intimate, supportive group.

This can not only make you more successful, logistically, in the program – it also helps you gain safe, supportive access to the deeper and more vulnerable aspects of advanced Yoga studies.

// unique modules > our 300 hour program offers some unique modules not found in other trainings, such as Trauma Knowledge in Yoga – or Yoga for Hand & Wrist Issues.

We believe that taking our practice off the mat is a vital function of living the 8 limbs and are excited to offer some “outside the box” modules for your Yoga education.

// 2 years to complete the program > learn at your own pace, on your schedule!

// held in beautiful, calm Haywood County > why fight the traffic, intensity, and crazy parking of the city when you can complete your training at our gorgeous, retreat-like location?!

Waynesville Yoga is located in a beautiful historic building, just off Main Street: you get the convenience of being downtown but the quiet feeling of private space. Enjoy our beautiful wrap-around porch when it’s warm – or relax in front of our library fireplace when it’s cool.

// no dogma > while we of course teach the history of Yoga – according to Yoga Alliance standards – we don’t espouse any particular religion or belief system. While Yoga acknowledges the unseen presence of spirit or soul – and seeks to reconnect body with that soul – we don’t adhere to any particular dogma. We’ve had folks of many faiths tell us they appreciate this adherence to acceptance vs. a particular dogma.

// more affordable > our 300 hour program is more affordable than any other comparable training we’ve found in the Southeast. As of November 2021 we have cut our prices even further to make it more accessible!

// realistic schedule > we realize that many of you work during the week, so all of our modules are held on the weekends: Friday evenings, all day Saturdays and half-day Sundays. This is not only more realistic & convenient for a typical work schedule, it also means you’ll have at least some of your weekend left!


Of the modules offered, 14 are required – and you must complete 18 total – giving you 7 options for the other 4 elective modules:

1. Alignment, Adjustments, and Assists for the Modern Yoga Class*
2. Chakras
3. Creative Use of Props: Chair, Wheel, Bolsters, Blocks, Therapy Balls – and more!*
4. How Yoga Can Improve the Health, Flexibility, and Mobility of Our Connective Tissue*
5. Meditation*
6. Modern Yoga Inclusion: Race, Gender, Size, Ability, and More in the #MeToo Era*
7. Pranayama, Mudras, and Bandhas*
8. Proper Ethical Boundaries in Yoga*
9. Restorative Yoga
10. Sequencing Magic*
11. Sutras
12. The Ayurvedic Principles in Relation to Yoga
13. The Psoas & SI Joint and How They Affect Yoga*
14. Yamas and Niyamas
15. Yoga for Aging Gracefully*
16. Yoga for Better Posture: Back – Shoulders – Neck – Head*
17. Yoga to Facilitate Rest & Yoga Nidra
18. Yoga for Hormone Health
19. Yoga for Hypermobility*
20. Yoga for Joint Health*
21. Yoga for Special Considerations*
*required modules


Fridays 6 – 9 PM
Saturdays 9 AM – 6 PM (with a one hour lunch break)
Sundays: 9 AM – 1 PM


Anyone is welcome to take modules a la carte, without enrolling in the 300/500 YTT program. Gain knowledge, deepen your practice, and attend only what interests you! Register for any of the modules on our class calendar, without the application or administrative fees.

// in order to enroll in the 300 hour program, trainees:
:: must have their RYT-200
:: must have been practicing yoga for at least 2 years
:: must document at least 100 hours of teaching yoga before receiving their 300 hour certificate

// the max teacher to student to ratio is 1:20
// the program begins in May 2021; see our class calendar for specific module dates
// you have 2 years to complete the full training program
// each module costs $250
// Of the modules offered, 14 are required – and you must complete 18 total – giving you 7 options for the other 4 elective modules
// a non-refundable application fee of $125 secures your spot in the program: click here to claim yours
// there is a $50 administrative fee at the completion of the program

To confirm your participation in the program (and/or check your status), click here.


For more information and/or program details, contact us: // 828.246.6570

(For details about our 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program, contact us – or click here…)

Continue reading

200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training at Waynesville Yoga Center

Welcome to WYC!

Waynesville Yoga Center is proud to offer 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in the tranquil Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina! Get your certification right here in the Southeast – with all the quality of a “big city” training.

We’re thrilled and honored to provide a training program for those who want to deepen their yoga journey, whether to teach others, or simply understand it better. Many people take yoga teacher training not because they want to teach, but to deepen their own yoga practice.

Yoga Teacher Training (aka YTT) provides a solid introduction to the elements that inform Yoga: Anatomy & Physiology; Ayurveda; Trauma & Neuroplasticity; Yoga Philosophy & Lifestyle; Chronic Pain; dissection of the common asana (poses); and of course: many different flavors of yoga!

Why take YTT at Waynesville Yoga? You can expect some differences from our program:

  1. Calm Setting :: Avoid the traffic and intensity of the city, and get your 200 hour certification at our gorgeous studio in the tranquil, grounding mountains of western North Carolina.
  2. Affordable :: our program is more affordable than any other we’ve found in the Southeast.
  3. Real Yoga for Real People :: yoga in America has turned into an empire, one that many people think is unattainable: uber-thin white women contorted into poses that many people can’t even consider, much less execute. At WYC, we offer real yoga for real people: making yoga accessible for you.

    Our YTT mission is: “to provide the tools, skills and knowledge to safely practice (and perhaps teach) whatever style of yoga that most resonates with you, your body, and – if you choose to teach – your students.”

    It’s not about forcing your body to look a certain way in a particular shape; it’s about learning how to express the poses in your body, safely and comfortably. It’s about how it feels and how it can cultivate health and wellness for your whole being: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

    If you’ve felt uncomfortable or intimidated by yoga; if you think you’re not “good enough” to come to a studio (we’ve heard that from many of our students, sadly!), try one of our classes and see how accessible yoga can be.

    If you’ve wanted to try a yoga teacher training program but felt like you weren’t up to the challenge, know that our course is accessible and realistic, for all ages, body types, and levels of experience.

  4. No Dogma :: although Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago and is typically associated with Hinduism, Yoga isn’t a religion – and we don’t make it one! While Yoga acknowledges the unseen presence of spirit or soul – and seeks to reconnect body & soul – we don’t adhere to any particular dogma.

    “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” {Dalai Lama}

    Some YTT programs incorporate yoga’s religious traditions into their syllabus and teach it along with the other course material. While we respect everyone’s spiritual path and honor the lineage of yoga science & philosophy, we don’t endorse or teach any dogma.

    It’s why you won’t find any deities at WYC: we respect your spiritual integrity and want yoga to be a tool & resource on your life path, however you connect with Spirit. Our YTT will provide you with information and training to access your yoga.

  5. Practice Actually Teaching :: We’ve gotten feedback that some other YTT programs don’t offer enough (or any!?) actual practice in teaching yoga. These students learned and experienced a lot, but they graduated from those programs feeling woefully unprepared to actually teach.

    Our graduates appreciate getting lots of practice leading a class – both in and outside of the group  – giving them the confidence, tools, resources, and support to start teaching upon graduation (if they choose).

  6. Realistic Schedule :: Based on feedback from our graduates, we offer a 10 month program – with at least 4 weeks in between each class – providing structure, consistency, and space to absorb the content. We do encourage you to start the reading list as soon as you sign up, as this will cultivate balance & calm during the program! 🙂

    (We used to take the summers off, as many people travel, have their kids on break, etc – but students indicated that it was more supportive to meet every month and keep their learning momentum).

  7. Supportive Class Size :: With a max of 14 participants accepted, you can count on a supportive, intimate group. The honest connection that comes with a smaller group makes you a better teacher, and the enhanced teacher attention makes it easier to learn. 

Fridays, 6 – 9 PM
6 – 7: varied practice
7 – 8: student-led teaching
8 – 9: techniques, training, and practice

Saturdays, 9 AM – 5:30 PM
9 – 10:30: varied practice
10:30 – 12: integrative anatomy & physiology 
:: lunch break ::
1 – 2:30: teaching methodology
2:30 – 3:30: techniques, training, and practice
3:30 – 5:30: student-led teaching

Sundays, 9 AM – 5:30 PM
9 – 10:30: varied practice
10:30 – 12: student-led teaching
:: lunch break ::
1 – 3: yoga philosophy, lifestyle, education
3 – 4:30: yoga basics
4:30 – 5:30: student-led teaching

(bathroom breaks and snacks during lecture can be taken at any time, as needed)

2022 Calendar

Weekend 1: Jan 21 – 23
Weekend 2: Feb 18 – 20 > Hot Stone Restorative w/ Amber Kleid
Weekend 3:  March 18 – 20 > Yoga for Chronic Pain w/ Amber Kleid 
Weekend 4: April 22 – 24 > Yin Yoga w/ Sara Lewis
Weekend 5: May 20 – 22 > Ayurveda w/ Candra Smith
Weekend 6: June 17 – 19 > Yoga for Trauma w/ Lynda Saffell
Weekend 7: July 22 – 24 > Ashtanga Yoga w/ Natalie
Weekend 8: August 19 – 21 > Nutrition for Wellness w/ Sara Lewis
Weekend 9: September 16 – 18 > Arm Balances & Inversions w/ Candra Smith
Weekend 10: October 14 – 16

You can get a good idea of what to expect from the syllabus in the detailed schedule above.

The program will provide a solid foundational exploration of:
// Anatomy & Physiology, especially as it relates to Yoga
// Basics of common yoga poses: breakdown & alignment
// Yoga Philosophy, including Ayurveda, Tantra, Sutras, and more
// Yamas / Niyamas / Ethics
// Chakras
// Yoga for Trauma, such as for veterans, recovering from injuries, healing from childbirth, etc.
// and the following Yoga styles**: Flow & Ground :: Buti Yoga :: Yin :: Vinyasa Flow :: Hot Stone Restorative :: Yoga Nidra :: Myofascial Release :: Arm Balances & Inversions :: Gentle & Chair Yoga :: and much more!

The lead trainers are Jay MacDonald & Leigh-Ann Renz. We’re also excited to welcome our fabulous guest instructors:
Sara Lewis :: Nutrition // Yin Yoga
Candra Smith :: Ayurveda // Arm Balances & Inversions
Amber Kleid :: Hot Stone Restorative
Anna Ferguson Robas :: Yoga for Trauma
Alex Moody :: Yoga for Chronic Pain
and more…

**Flow & Ground

Students in our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training will receive a depth of understanding in our signature, branded style: Flow & Ground Yoga. Developed by lead trainer Jay MacDonald, Flow & Ground integrates the best of both stability and fluidity. Learning a foundation in this style offers the YTT student a solid base from which to explore, unfold and grow their yoga from a place of deep wisdom.

Required Reading > (the books are listed in the order that we recommend you read them in):

  1. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain Mind and Body in the healing of trauma by Bessel van der Kolk (by w/e 1)
    -> NOTE: this is great as an audio book, which might help you save time!
  2. Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques by Mark Stephens (by w/e 1)
  3. Awakening the Spine by Vanda Scaravelli (by w/e 2)
  4. Yoga Anatomy, 2nd Edition, by Leslie Kaminoff (by w/e 3)
  5. The muscle book by Paul Blakely (by w/e 3)
  6. The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga: The philosophy and practice of Yin Yoga by Bernie Clark (by w/e 4)
  7. Yoga for Pain Relief (Simple practices to Calm Your Mind & Heal Your Chronic Pain) by Kelly McGonigal (by w/e 5)
  8. Your Body, Your Yoga by Bernie Clark (by w/e 5)
  9. The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi (by w/e 6)
  10. Insight Yoga: An innovative synthesis of traditional yoga, meditation and Eastern approaches by Sarah Powers (by w/e 7)
  11. Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists (by w/e 7)
  12. Yoga Nidra: by Swami Satyananda Saraswati (by w/e 8)
  13. Spinning Inward: Using guided imagery for learning, creativity & relaxation by Maureen Murdock (by w/e 8)
  14. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (by w/e 9)

Recommended Reading:

  1. Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar
  2. The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness by Erich Schiffman
  3. Back Care Basics by Mary Pullig Schatz
  4. Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh

To support your completion of this extensive reading list, we open the studio an hour early on Fridays to create space for a reading group. We highly recommend you connect with your fellow students and help each other stay on track.

Book Purchasing Options

We know these books are expensive! Our book list is actually comparable (or less) than other YTT programs; because of the wealth of quality information, it’s part of any YTT course to pay $300 – $500 for the books. The content will serve you well for decades to come as a yoga instructor. Knowledge = power!

Please know that you’re not required to purchase them new! In fact, we have a book share program through Wall St Books in Waynesville: check with them for used versions. You can also buddy up with another person in the program and share the books; let us know if you’d like the email list for other students so you can coordinate a book share.

The only thing that’s not gonna work is an electronic version, as it’s kinda hard to look at amazing anatomy pictures while you’re driving! 😊

// 1st 4 people to sign up pay $2,250
// 2nd 4 people to sign up pay $2,500
// final 6 people to sign up pay $2,750

A $500 non-refundable deposit will hold your place in the price tier. Half of the total is due by the start of the program; any remaining balance must be paid by the 4th weekend.

Click here to reserve your spot – and your place in the price tier. 

“The concept the universe has your back comes to mind when I think of my YTT journey this year. I embarked on this journey as a reset for myself at a time of personal transition. I had recently left a business that I had helped to create and both of my children were flying the nest with the eldest one moving to Colorado. Never did I imagine that 2020 would be the year that the entire planet paused for a reset. 

Each YTT weekend has been like a flower of self awareness opening up as the themes have built on themselves fluidly. The magic in these weekends was already evident prior to the pandemic as the group quickly bonded with the guidance of both Leigh Ann and Jay through their nurturing and humor. However, the magic has continued to unfold as each time that we have come together either online or later in person during the pandemic it has felt like the reset we were getting not only spoke to us on an individual level but also on the broader outward level. 

With so much anxiety and chaos happening in the world , to come together and learn how to pause, reset, and nurture both body, mind, and spirit while also learning how to share it with others is truly a gift. The concept of self love is where all love resides has never been more true for me until now,  I have had more patience and less anxiety through my yoga practice on and off the mat as I have had many opportunities to use it. It has helped me to stay calm, breathe and stay grounded for myself, my family, and my friends.  I am forever grateful to Jay for the nudge and myself for the effort.”

{Kim T. WYC YTT 2020}

For more details – and/or to reserve your spot in our next 200 hour YTT, contact us: – 828.246.6570

(For details about our 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training program, contact us – or click here…)

Continue reading

5 Tips to Stay Diligent with Your Yoga Practice

Finding it hard to get to the studio on the reg? Or sticking to your home practice while juggling work, family, fun or travel? It happens! Sometimes life has us looking in another direction and – before you know it – you haven’t touched your mat in weeks.

I’ve gone through phases of squeezing in a practice twice a day to maybe once every few weeks; but without fail, every time I return to my mat and start feeling the physical and mental benefits, I’m in disbelief that I’d abandoned something that makes me feel so good (and so balanced).

I often come across articles on how to stay diligent with your practice: Have good habits! Wake up early! Stay consistent! Make it a priority! Uh yeah, I’m going to need something a little more concrete than that.

I figured out that the key to staying diligent with MY yoga practice, especially while traveling and constantly changing scenery, is to find ways to stay excited about it. So here are my tips to keep your EXCITEMENT to practice alive:

Make an adventure out of it

I throw my mat in my car and drive somewhere I’ve never been: a grassy park, a beautiful garden, the bank of a canyon or usually near a body of water, as I find it invites a
sense of calm. By making a mission of my practice, it becomes a fun reward for setting off and discovering something new. Settling onto my mat in these places also feels like a way of honoring and embracing little slices of the world that we sometimes walk right past: a grassy spot behind a barn, near some cool formation of rocks or under a tree that’s older that most people you know. Maybe bring a journal and see what comes through in your post-practice clarity.

If you’re looking for a quick jump-off in the Waynesville area, check out the cemetery, one of the nooks in Vance Park, something along Pigeon River or head up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Get a playlist together

Am I craving a pump-me-up power flow? Or do I want something to quiet my mind while I melt into restorative poses?

Putting together a playlist before I start helps me set the vibe for what my mind and body needs that day and is also a good way to time my practice. Hop on YouTube or Spotify and chose a pre-made playlist, or use the opportunity to discover new music, artists or genres.

I bounce among desert / psychedelic rock; Afrobeat; Indian drumming and sitar; or Indonesian gamelan. Sometimes you end up creating the ultimate zen zone and are ready for a nap; other times, you end up in a one-woman dance party, ready to slay the day.

A playlist is just one piece of ambiance you can prep for yourself. Light some candles or incense, dim the lights, pump up the volume – all these help set the mood around you and enhance your sense of place and presence.

Feel good in the clothes you’re practicing in

Have you ever bought a pair of yoga pants that make you feel all sucked in and supported? Or a top that adds a little pop of color to your look? Little things like this get me excited to hit my mat. It’s not about looking sexy per se – but it’s about feeling good in your own skin. Read our blog on What to Wear to Yoga if you’re looking for some tips!

As a sun worshipper, I prefer a hot day in a bathing suit top + some linen pants, flippin’ my dog as a tanning tactic more than a yoga pose (who said you can’t multi-task during yoga!).

Find a buddy and make plans for after yoga

Whether it’s meeting at a studio or coming together for an informal practice, I find that making plans for AFTER yoga makes sure I actually make it to my mat. Having a yoga buddy can keep you accountable if you’re looking for consistency in your practice and can also invite some fun! (Don’t have a buddy? Go to a class, smile, introduce yourself to people, be kind and maybe someone will want to be your friend.)

Maybe you want to sit on the front porch at Waynesville Yoga and have a chat over tea; head over to Mad Anthony’s for a cold brew or snack; have a picnic; get a couples’ massage; or better yet- maybe you and your friend decide to go on a yoga retreat together and make a fun trip out of it!

Find YOUR mat + keep it in eyesight

I’ll practice in the sand, on the grass or a rug if I have to, but I’m a BIG fan of the feeling and smell of my mat (yeah, whatever, I like the smell of rubber and hope it never goes away).

For awhile I was using this old, worn down mat that hadn’t withstood the test of extended backpacking trips: tossed in dirty bus storage and ripped up by cute dogs all eager to say what up. It had no grip or support – and was really only great because it folded up so small.

Then I made the switch to a Jade lightweight mat, which were the first green and non-toxic yoga mats on the market. No longer was I slipping around when I went on my hot yoga kick or feeling my bones touch the floor below my mat during savasana.

When picking a mat, consider what you need. Do you travel and want something lightweight? Do you want something thicker to support you? Do your hands and feet tend to get really sweaty during your practice? Are you tall and need a longer mat?

Figure out what type of mat will best fit your practice lifestyle, then head to a store like REI where you can actually touch the options. You might come across great deals online – but I wouldn’t purchase a mat unless I’ve put my hands on it and feel confident that it’s a good fit. Then, keep that puppy in sight! I know if it’s in my line of vision i’m more likely to roll er’ out and maybe just stretch a bit.

Follow these tips, pick a mantra that speaks to you, and you’re sure to keep not just the magic of your yoga practice alive- but the magic of life and presence.


Jerica remotely handles marketing + management for Waynesville Yoga Center. When not working, she can be found embracing whatever place she’s found herself in, embarking on an adventure, or contemplating life while perched in tree pose. Taking classes at WYC has helped her develop a stronger dedication to her yoga practice and has led to an obsession with heart openers. 


take it off the mat!

While yoga is magical and amazing, on many levels, I’m way more blown away by its applications in my life off the mat. I appreciate what it does for me physical, mentally and emotionally – of course – but I’m amazed when I’m able to take my practice into the world around me.

In the summer of 2001, I was in Brooklyn for my cousin’s wedding. I had only been practicing for a few years and was somewhat obsessed with Cyndi Lee’s (now closed) Om Yoga studio.

I was in my early 20s, and it was an exciting adventure to take the subway to Manhattan, find the location (in the days before smart phones) and climb the narrow staircase to the studio.

As I made my way into the lobby, I heard this piercing noise: one of the building’s fire alarms was ringing in full blare. I thought to myself “Oh man, there’s no way they can have classes with that all that noise. Damn! I’m gonna miss my chance to practice at Om Yoga” – but there was someone smiling calmly at me from behind the front desk, as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

When I asked if the class was still happening, she confirmed that it was, took my payment and got me pointed in the right direction, never once addressing the still-clanging alarm. I honestly was so stunned by her utter lack of response to the noise that I just followed her lead and got settled on my mat.

The instructor had the same attitude and demeanor: he acknowledged the noise and apologized for it, but never once indicated that we wouldn’t have the class as planned. We did the entire hour-and-a-half practice with that fire alarm ringing the whole time. The teacher raised his voice to be heard, and none of the other students seemed put off by the experience in the least.

I must have tuned it out, because I distinctly remember “waking up” after savasana and thinking “Oh wow, that alarm’s still ringing. Huh….” And that was it… I had a great class at my dream studio and walked back down those steep stairs into the hustle and bustle of the city.

When I was initially learning yoga, my very first teacher used to hold informal classes in her home – or sometimes, at her family’s store in Ybor City, a party neighborhood in Tampa. I literally learned yoga over the sounds of cars honking, music blaring, bass buzzing, people laughing and screaming. My teacher used to tell us that it was a perfect environment to practice in, because it would help us tune more deeply into our bodies, into ourselves.

I never learned to expect quiet from my yoga practice, and I’ve found that this expectation has served me well off my mat. Life isn’t quiet. Our minds aren’t quiet. Even in the most beautiful, epic scene in nature (which of course abound in our WNC community), our monkey minds are chitter-chattering away: ruminating about the past, dreaming and planning for the future, processing and solving problems we’re experiencing.

The whole point of yoga is to help us find the quiet within – no matter what’s happening. We might be calm and at peace; we tune into the beauty of that gift. We might be disrupted, upset, scared, angry, riding the waves of our emotions; we draw on our practice to tune into the quiet and the answers within. We might be practicing yoga in a serene space, and we enjoy that quiet. Or we’re in the middle of our practice and we hear the sirens of an ambulance – a barking dog – people chatting in the lobby – or construction noise.

Yoga helps me accept what is, without knowing what’s coming next. Sometimes it’s gentle and pleasant; sometimes it’s intense and loud. By learning how to stay present with my body and my breath on my mat, I’m more equipped to handle the unpleasant, unknown or intense experiences that life hands me. Yoga helps me enjoy the calm and quiet – and save that nourishment up for the disruption, which is always inevitable in this impermanent, ever-changing human experience.


Leigh-Ann Renz offers yoga + massage at Waynesville Yoga Center


Leigh-Ann Renz is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and part of the management team at Waynesville Yoga Center.


THANK YOU for adding infrared sauna to the list of reasons I absolutely love Wavnesville Yoga Center! Knowing that I no longer have to travel all the way to Asheville for this healing modality is so encouraging!

Initially, I didn’t understand how different infrared was from the saunas I’d used before at the gym or the spa. I rarely lasted more than a few minutes in those, always finding it hard to breathe and feeling completely exhausted afterwards. So years later, when I was struggling with severe chronic fatigue and arthritic pain everyday, it surprised me when my doctor actually recommended I try infrared sauna therapy.

I realize that not every doctor endorses – or even knows about infrared sauna. If someone carries any specific diagnosis or uses medical devices, then they should get cleared by their own doctor; I’m just grateful that my doctor knew it was safe for me – and that they recommended this deeply healing modality.

From my first session, I remember being impressed by how gentle and uniform the heat from the infrared light was all over my body. My sessions were always private, and I was grateful I didn’t have to “keep up the stones” like in a steam sauna.

Frequently, in too much pain to exercise, the fact my body could get such a great sweat just sitting still was an integral part of my healing at that time. Still, I’d say the key motivation for me to keep using infrared sauna for years came from the extended benefits that would carry me for several days following a session.

The increased circulation from such a great sweat significantly brought down my inflammation and pain levels. I would also see improvements in my skin, gut motility and insomnia for a few days as well, which I attribute to the boost in detoxification that infrared light influences.

I could go on, but I really just want to say again how much I appreciate WYC making this amazing investment so that I can get back to having infrared sauna be a special ongoing part of my health regimen.

-Chris H., Sylva, NC

// Ready to try it for yourself!? Click here to snag your infrared sauna spot!

What is Shiatsu?

Zen Shiatsu (“shee-ott-soo”) is soothing, yet effective, bodywork that treats not only muscles, joints, and nerves – but also bio-electricity energy within the body (known as qi, or chi = “chee”). A shiatsu session includes gentle rotation of limbs, stretching of muscles, and stimulating points along the Chinese medicine meridians of the body, from the head + face down to the toes and fingers.

Shiatsu can be especially effective for managing chronic pain, insomnia, stress, depression, anxiety, headaches, past injuries, and many sub-clinical symptoms that may disrupt daily life (e.g. digestive issues, seasonal allergies, sleep disturbances, minor aches and weaknesses).

Shiatsu complements medical treatments for more serious diseases, including managing the symptoms and side effects of many medications.

Shiatsu can be experienced both on a massage table – or a padded mat on the floor. Many people like that you do not disrobe for a shiatsu session: it is experienced clothed, without oil. Many people who find traditional massage too vigorous or invasive experience shiatsu as a calming, welcome alternative. It brings the body into a relaxed state to encourage self-healing.

Waynesville Yoga Center is excited and grateful to welcome Raymond Johnson of Mountain Zen Shiatsu! He’ll be offering Shiatsu sessions at WYC on Tuesdays, 12 – 8 PM and Sundays, 10 AM – 4 PM. To experience Raymond’s calm, healing presence – and to see how amazing shiatsu can make you feel, book a session with him now: 828.246.6570.

  • 1
  • 2
  • “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.

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

    – Michelle G.C.

  • “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.

  • “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.

  • “I woke up one morning and realized I was 60 years old, that I could live well into my 80s and that I had to do something to improve my strength and stamina if I wanted a good quality of life. I was caring for small grandchildren periodically, and it exhausted me.

    As soon as I saw Waynesville Yoga Center was opening, I came. I am so thankful to Jay for a place where I feel safe, not self-conscious, and where I can attend classes that benefit me without feeling in competition with anyone else. Restorative and Yin have improved my flexibility and meditation skills; Beginner Flow, Flow Level 1 and Gentle Chair Yoga have increased my strength and balance and also challenged me, as has Barre and Balance!

    I feel better than I ever have – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have met so many new friends. All of the instructors I have had are wonderful and willing to share of themselves. Thank you, Jay, your endeavor is making a tremendous difference in so many lives!”

    – Terri M.

  • “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.

  • “I haven’t felt this good since I got my puppy, ten years ago!…”

    – Steve S.

  • I signed up for YTT thinking I had time to myself to focus on me, but the world has other plans. It’s still the best decision I’ve made, and I am so grateful that what I have learned has come to me at a time that I can apply it to so much real world trauma. This YTT has been a saving grace!

    – Kim T.

  • “WYC YTT has given me such tremendous depth in my practice of yoga on and off the mat. I’ve loved seeing my evolution this year as I learned all the ways I can add yoga to my home and work life. I started just expecting to build a stronger personal practice, but now I am so excited to see where this will all take me in the years to come.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “One of the things I have loved about the program is that we are not just learning how to teach certain poses; I have been learning things I didn’t even know I could learn about yoga in general, including about the subtle energies, how they tie to both anatomy and the philosophy of yoga.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “YTT provided me with the tools and knowledge to deepen my own yoga practice and help others with theirs. This program challenged me in unforeseen ways and I am so thankful to have experienced this journey with such incredible teachers and fellow students. It was truly a life-changing experience.”

    – Hayley P.

  • “That special moment when your body, mind and spirit blend into a yummy synchronized yogic OHMMMMMMM……..yeah, YTT has given me like a hundred of those so far! You guys are awesome!”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “With all of my health issues, I never would have believed I could ever learn to teach yoga. WYC’s Real Yoga for Real Bodies built my confidence as a leader, reminding me that my journey is my strength, and I will actually be a better teacher because of the challenges I’ve experienced. Thank you so much for creating a program that encouraged us to bring the beauty and the beast through this incredible transformation.”

    – CJH

  • “I waited years looking for the right yoga teacher training program and WYC was definitely the reason why. I’m absolutely convinced I could not have found a program that was more creative, inclusive, or supportive. I would definitely attribute that to the meticulous design of the curriculum and incredibly talented teachers you brought in to lead so many cool facets of the course. You drew in some of the most amazing students with all this awesomeness and I’ve been so thrilled to learn alongside them this year so thank you, thank you, thank you for every last delicious bit of it.”

    – CJH

  • “What has set the program apart for me, as well, is the approach to teaching that encourages us not to focus on a “perfect” pose, but rather perfecting a pose within our bodies and the bodies of our students. This means everyone’s expression of a pose will be slightly different, and there is such beauty in that. It runs counter to so much that we are taught elsewhere in life.”

    – Kristen, B

  • “When I first began practicing yoga, it seemed like the more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I bought a few books but still didn’t feel like a real student of the practice of yoga. When the 200 hour YTT was offered, I saw it as the perfect chance to really expand my knowledge. I have come to realize that with this deep dive into the practice of yoga, I have a strong knowledge bank that will allow me to continue to expand my knowledge of yoga for years to come.”

    – Jann F.

  • “My experience during my YTT at WYC has not only increased my confidence on the mat but has opened up endless possibilities and opportunities for a courageous, confident, and grateful life off the mat. “

    – Teresa F.

  • “Thank you all so much for offering this. It has truly been a gift in my life and I am very grateful to be part of this class!”

    – Kristen, B

  • “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.

  • “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.

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.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

We'll send special offers, yoga articles, event information, and more - directly to your inbox!

Visit Us

Contact Us

Waynesville Yoga Center
274 S Main St
Waynesville, NC 28786