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

E-RYT-200, all-around bad ass

Leigh-Ann has been practicing yoga since 1997 and teaching since 2005. She enjoys taking and teaching all types of yoga, but especially loves: vinyasa flow + yin; yoga fundamentals; and classes that delight her inner philosophical nerd, such as chakras, yamas & niyamas, etc.

Leigh-Ann is honored to manage the Yoga Teacher Training programs – and the Massage Team – at WYC. She loves facilitating wellness services to her local community and is also thrilled to co-teach the YTT programs at Waynesville Yoga Center.

When not working, she can be found in the woods – or at the beach – 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

RYT-200. RN, BSN

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

200 Hour RYT + Certified Buti Yoga® Instructor

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.

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.

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.   

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. 

Amber Russo

RYT200, Kripalu +Yn Yoga trained instructor

Amber began practicing yoga in 2009 in hopes of a graceful transition in her 40th year, and from that practice grew a longing to teach yoga. After many grueling years in the corporate world, Amber left it behind for a more fulfilling lifestyle to help her husband start a successful business.  Then in 2018, she finally decided it was time to make her dream come true and signed up for yoga teacher training at Discovery Yoga in St. Augustine FL. That training helped Amber become “open to change” and that change has brought her to become a new resident of Waynesville NC.

Amber is looking forward to guiding classes in her new hometown and sharing her love the of the physical as well as mental aspects of the practice of yoga. Her mission is to provide a loving, welcoming and accepting environment to offer the practice of yoga and to help students nuture self- love in a judgement free environment. She believes ALL bodies can do yoga.

Renee Albert

RYT- 200

Renee, a practitioner of yoga since 2007, grew up in Seattle, WA, and through a series of fortuitous events, landed in the mountains of Waynesville with her husband, Darren.

A writer by trade with master’s degrees in Project Management and Strategic Business Leadership, Renee’s continuously curious mind, love of yoga, and self-proclaimed “yoga universalist” style offers fun, uplifting, and transformational practices that pull from various styles of yoga.

Completing her RYT-200 at Asheville Yoga Center in 2019, Renee is excited to bring her love of teaching and special flair to WYC. She honors the traditions of yoga and is a strong believer in cultivating a warm atmosphere that motivates, inspires, and supports yoga practitioners at each stage in their journey. Renee promotes openness, positivity, and encourages budding and seasoned yoga enthusiasts to build strong foundations for a long term, sustainable, yoga practice.

When not practicing yoga, she is learning more about it (already started her RYT-500 certification), pursuing various hobbies, and enjoying mountain life with Darren and the fur-babies, Crosby, Chima, and Bowie.

Kirstin Batchelor

Kirstin first came to yoga 2007, when a friend invited her to a class, convincing her she didn’t need to already know how to do it in order to start. As she and her husband moved around the country with his Army career, Kirstin worked as a minister and a hospital/hospice chaplain. In 2018, they moved to Waynesville, and Kirstin was thrilled to participate in WYC’s first 200-hour Teacher Training last year.

In the various roles she has held as a chaplain and as an Army spouse, Kirstin’s joy has been in being with people in the ups and downs of real life. Yoga has been a source of resilience for her and she enjoys sharing with others that same strengthening of body and deepening of spirit that comes with a yoga practice. She likes to focus on the drawing inward that yoga invites and the ways that different poses can help us understand our physical and emotional selves.

Off the mat, she loves to be hiking with her husband and their dog Artie, or writing, with cat Max sitting helpfully in her lap.

Beth Sanderson Hooper

Beth has been teaching yoga for over 15 years and considers balance and self-love two of her personal focuses in life.She focused on cardio at the beginning of her journey but has since transitioned to weight lifting and HIIT training. She has taught spin, step, TRX, bootcamp classes, and also been a personal trainer. Beth considers sharing in other’s fitness journeys a gift and inspiration.

Natalie Lembeck

RYT- 200 and Reiki

Natalie responded to her call to yoga at the beginning of 2017 and found with total sincerity that yoga is nothing short of life-changing. Within the first month of practicing yoga asana, she knew she had found something special and was immediately inspired to bring her knowledge to others. She’s a 200 hour Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Instructor and thrilled to be sharing her passion of yoga with the Waynesville community. Her teaching style ranges from faster-paced vinyasa classes to more mellow, fascia-focused yin classes.

Beyond the yoga asana, she incorporates mindfulness and breathing techniques into her classes and makes use of essential oils, incense, and some reiki to promote a soothing, welcoming environment.

(staff photo credit: Amber Kleid)

  • “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 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.

  • “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

  • “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.

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

    – Michelle G.C.

  • “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.

  • “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

  • “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 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.

  • “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

  • “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.

  • “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.

  • “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.

  • “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

  • “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

  • “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

  • “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.

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

    – Steve S.

  • “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

  • “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.

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Waynesville Yoga Center
274 S Main St
Waynesville, NC 28786