CT RT Our Instructors | island-retreat-spa

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Our Instructors

Sarah Epting



Sarah is a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance, having completed her 200 Hour training with the Kunga Yoga School at Wilmington Yoga Center. Her primary teachers are Jamie Annette and Leigh Ann Mertens. She loves teaching gentle and vinyasa flows, as well as specialty classes in pre and post natal. 

Sarah believes in the power of moving through the body to free the mind, and encourages students to build new awarenesses and relationships with their bodies to grow in their understanding of self and expand their connection to others. 

Sarah came to her practice after the birth of her daughter, so the journey to yoga and into motherhood are indelibly linked and she adores coaching others through that transition. 

In Sarah's class you can expect to be nurtured, challenged, and supported. 

Elizabeth Cooper



Elizabeth is a Yoga Alliance certified 200 RYT and a graduate of the Sivananda Yoga Vedante Center. After beginning her personal yogic journey in 2014, Elizabeth began to realize the physical and spiritual healing power of yoga. Wanting to help spread this healing to others, Elizabeth decided to pursue her yoga teaching certification. In January 2019, she spent a month at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in Paradise Island, Bahamas where she studied Sivananda Hatha yoga, pranayama, Vedanta philosophy, mantra meditation, and Kirtan.

Elizabeth believes that yoga is not just a physical practice or a profession, but a lifestyle which takes every opportunity to spread kindness, love, and healing to all living beings. Swami Chidananda states that yoga is “perfection in action…A perfect act is one that brings some benefit to someone and harm to no one.” Using this philosophy, Elizabeth strives to make every interaction, with her students and others, a yogic one.

Her personal practice includes Japa Meditaion, Sivananda Hatha Yoga, and Ashtanga Yoga with Larry Hobbs. Her teaching style aims to bring awareness to the breath to encourage a meditative state through mind/body/soul connection. Whatever style class she teaches, Elizabeth aims always to teach from her heart and serve her students with love and encouragement.

Leigh Ann Mertens



RYS 300


Yoga, Barre

After taking her first yoga class in 1997, Leigh Ann was "hooked!" For her, Yoga was the expansive experience she had been yearning for to encounter spirit through the body.  At the time, Leigh Ann was Artistic Director for add dance, a professional contemporary dance company based in Asheville, NC. Having danced all her life, yoga seemed like a natural progression for her and ended up becoming not only a personal practice for her, but a lifestyle that she has committed her life to sharing with others.  


In 2001, after completing her first year long teacher training, she felt called to open Brightwater Yoga in the basement of her home in Hendersonville, NC just 6 months after the birth of her first daughter.  The studio moved to its beautiful location in downtown Hendersonville just four years later in 2005 where it continues to grow and flourish.  In 2012, Leigh Ann sold the studio so that she could focus fully on teaching yoga both here and abroad. 


In 2013, Dharma Yoga Teacher Training was born through collaboration with fellow yoga teacher and dear friend, Vicki Beilharz, and a dream was realized.  Together, they created an amazing opportunity for students to learn, in depth, about the invaluable benefits of yoga practice and to, upon completion of the program, begin teaching others to do the same with a 200 hour RYT Certification.  They graduated their first group of lucky students in 2013 and just a second wonderful group in October 2015.  Leigh Ann and her family moved to Wilmington, NC in July of 2015 and she is currently honored to be offering classes at Salty Dog Yoga and Surf in Carolina Beach, NC and is co-facilitator for the Mountains to Sea 300hr Advanced Teacher Training at Carolina Beach.


As a teacher, Leigh Ann's enthusiasm and passion are infectious and her knowledge and clarity are reassuring to students of all ages and levels. She wholeheartedly believes that yoga is a personal journey that cannot be adequately described in words but, rather has to be experienced to be understood.  her mission is to create a space for students to encounter themselves with compassion and awareness, and to give them the opportunity to find their edge allowing them to step a little closer to freedom and to go beyond resistance into an acceptance they may have never realized was there. It is her honor to remind them that they already possess the tools. "I know it's a good class when students don't immediately jump up to leave, but instead sit and savor the experience they have just had." 

Alicia Linstead


Alicia Joined the Island Retreat team of instructors in spring 2019 as a Barre instructor. She is a vibrant and dedicated instructor! 



BARRE (Summer & holidays only)



I want to see clients get the most out of their workout. I love watching the intensity and focus knowing they are pushing to their limit.

“Know that it will be hard and your attitude will determine your direction!”

Trey Barefoot



SUPY (stand-up paddleboard yoga)

Trey offers exquisite restorative and yin classes, SUPY (Stand-up Paddleboard Yoga) and Vinyasa Flow. He is a bright spirit, filled with joy, laughter and spontaneity. Trey joins us seasonally in Summer and Fall as both a substitute instructor and for SUPY private and group sessions.

Guest Instructors

As part of our initiative to embrace the vast span of talent in the yoga community, Island Retreat Spa's Yoga Studio regularly invites Guest Instructors to teach, host workshops and lead retreats with us.

Want to teach or co-host a workshop or retreat with us?

Contact Us Here