Teachers & Practitioners
Namaste! My yoga journey began with an Ashtanga-based vinyasa practice in 1998. I have explored a wide variety of lineages and styles including Iyengar, Kundalini, Forrest, and Anusara. My respect and love for Ashtanga Yoga led me to my first teacher training under Bhavani Maki of Yoga Hanalei in 2009. I continued on to receive my 200-hour certification from Yoga Pod in Boulder, Colorado, and completed my 300-hour certification with Gina Caputo's Colorado School of Yoga.
I began teaching yoga in 2009 and opened OmTree Shala, a studio in downtown Lawrence, Kansas in September 2012. My classes blend the rich philosophy and dynamic sequencing of Ashtanga with modern alignment knowledge. I launched OmTree Shala’s 200-Hour Teacher Training Program in 2014 and continue to enjoy the challenging, yet profound process of teaching teachers.
Beyond the studio walls, I love to travel, dance to live music, and spend time with dear friends. At home, my children, partner, dogs, and cats keep me grounded and inspired!
Maria Elena Cuevas began her yoga practice in 2006 and has been a devoted student since she stepped on her mat. In January of 2015, she obtained her 200 RYT while studying with Anna Laurita at Davannayoga in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. After several years of teaching, Maria began exploring other types of movement to incorporate into her classes, including Pilates, HIIT, and resistance training. Now Maria teaches not only vinyasa, but yoga sculpt, Pilates inspired classes, and yoga with weights! Coming from a musical background, Kirtan is also one of Maria’s favorite yogic practices and coincides with her knowledge of guitar, piano, and traditional Mariachi folk music. Maria fronts the band Maria The Mexican and enjoys combining yoga and live music. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in Communication Studies.
Tricia began her transition into a yogic lifestyle in 2010. She received certification in 2014 and continues to study yoga, ayurveda, holistic health, and energetic healing with her teachers. Tricia’s class honors tradition while embodying creativity in order to break patterns. Her centered presence can be attributed to her own practice, and is a quality she hopes to share with her students. She adheres to living minimally, purchasing ethically, eating a healthy plant-based diet, respecting and learning from all living creatures, and admiring nature.
Cole's somatic offerings center mindful engagement with the body through the incredible ecological matrix of connective tissue that is our container in this life: "fascia," an organ of both form and consciousness. This singular, multi-layered fabric begins with the skin and literally touches everything within us. It holds tremendous potential to facilitate embodied change.
Cole strives to embody a high degree of integrity, carrying a culture of deep inclusivity, safety, consent, acceptance, and presence. They are enlivened by work with folks of all different shapes, orientations, and backgrounds - including but not limited to the various life stages of pregnancy, postpartum, infancy, childhood, adulthood, aging, and end of life.
Ambika offers structural bodywork and cranial release for acute and chronic pain and overall balance throughout the system. She has been training and treated in the John Barnes, PT method of myofascial release and soft tissue mobilization for the last four years and has found the technique transformational in her clients bodies and her own. This type of bodywork reduces restrictions in the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds every organ and muscle in the body, to create and maintain the length-tension of the muscles and keep the organs mobile and healthy.
Ambika has been intensively studying, performing and playing in the movement world for over 35 years. Starting at an early age as a dancer with a professional career, then found her yoga practice and love of teaching it to everyone, and became a Physical Therapist Assistant with specialty in manual therapy. She likes to call herself a “Movement Facilitator” and is so happy to be able to help others move as freely in their bodies as possible.
Pilates & Barre Teacher, Personal Trainer
At the beginning of my fitness journey, I was in college. I had been a high school athlete, a competitive swimmer, and tennis player. As I studied to become a group fitness instructor in 2009, I tried every exercise program available that would give me the “perfect body.” I went to weekly hot yoga sessions, lifted heavy weights daily, and ran each night just to top it off! In addition to that, I was teaching several of my own weightlifting and yoga classes each week. Unfortunately, I did not get the perfect body that I worked so hard for. By the end of my college experience in 2012, I was 20 pounds heavier, exhausted all the time, and frustrated. There had to be a better way.
It was then that I began developing my own system for smarter, safer, and more effective fitness. Using graceful, dynamic movements that incorporate angles, utilize gravity, and stretch the muscle through the natural range of motion, these workouts have completely transformed my body. Now I workout with less stress and less pain in less time with greater results.
It’s been my pleasure to work in the fitness industry for over a decade. Through my work as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I have been inspired by the transformation of dozens of clients. I am certified through the American Council on Exercise, YogaFit, and Practical Pilates.
Rylee began her journey with the Costa Rica School of Yoga via a 200 hr teacher training under Peggy Kelly and Krista Kamborian Baldini. She has received training in Iyengar, Vinyasa, Yin, and gentle styles of yoga as well as meditation and breathwork. She believes that our yoga practice begins with a deep connection to our breath which results in an incredibly grounding experience for the students in her classes. Rylee also enjoys studying nutrition, health and wellness, and holistic medicine and holds a Nutrition and Healthy Living certification from Cornell University. Rylee is a personal chef for a family of 5 with a specialized diet and takes pleasure in expanding her knowledge in this area through her own lifestyle choices as well. Outside of the yoga studio and kitchen, Rylee loves to travel, hike, spend time with her loved ones and her cat Leo.
Jennifer Nelson received her 200 hour teacher training at Om Yoga with Cyndi Lee in NYC in 2012. She began her teaching career at Harlem Yoga Studio before moving to Kansas in 2015. She began teaching at KU Endowment, Haskell Indian Nations University, RydeBarre, Jayhawk Club, OmTree Shala and continues to lead an amazing yoga community via Zoom. She continues to study Katonah Yoga NYC under the guidance of yoga pioneers Abbie Galvin and Navine Michaan.
Kel offers craniosacral therapy and Esalen Massage. Her work is intuitive, relaxing and restorative. Completing her initial massage training in the Sonoran desert in 2009, she journeyed to Big Sur, CA where she furthered her studies of healing arts for six years at Esalen Institute before landing her roots in pacific northwest soil. Her work is dedicated to the wellness of the minds, bodies and spirits of her clients. Kel is interested in how processes of healing can be integrated into everyday well being leading towards an integrated experience of self. Kel believes in the body’s natural and innate ability to heal itself and that belief is fundamental to her work.
Melinda Ball began her yoga journey over 20 years ago while exploring forms of physical modalities that would help her recovery from running injuries. Melinda quickly noticed how the yoga postures made her feel deeply connected to her body as well as alleviate the pain of past trauma. After moving to Lawrence, Melinda found a yoga community that enabled her to grow her practice. In 2014, she earned her 200 RYT and began instructing. Since then, she continues to deepen and expand her practice from the physical postures to studying the philosophy of yoga. Melinda is incredibly grateful for her teachers, humbled by the study of yoga, and honored by the opportunity to share what she continually learns on this path.
Valentine first came to Yoga in the early 2000s, practicing intermittently as life evolved. Simultaneously, she cultivated a personal meditation practice and has led mindful meditation classes and workshops in therapeutic and corporate wellness settings. She trained in and then taught Yoga and Pilates-inspired group fitness for several years. Valentine committed to further developing her knowledge at 200hr yoga teacher training through OmTree Shala in 2022-2023. Her background in Music Therapy makes her an empathetic and compassionate teacher, creating space for all and supporting their unique experiences. An avid advocate for animal rescue, you’ll often hear of the antics of her dog and cat or her latest foster pet. She feels the eight-limbed path and wisdom of the Sutra support an agile mind, body, and heart for all life offers.
Certified Reiki Master, CCT
Molly has spent the last four years studying Reiki (certified Reiki Master) and other holistic healing modalities such as working with the Human Energy Field based off of the teachings of Barbara Brennan, chelation therapy and CCT with healer, teacher and earth mama Kathy Forest, as well as facets of Shamanism (Foundation for Shamanic Studies). This lead her to take the plunge into establishing her own practice as a certified Reiki instructor in beautiful Downtown Lawrence, KS. In addition to offering traditional Reiki healing, she looks forward to offering additional holistic healing options such as meditation and dreamwork, classes, and collaborations with fellow holistic practitioners in the near future. She is currently pursuing a two-year intensive to become a certified herbalist through North Star Herbal Studies.
In her healing practice, Molly enjoys providing the space and opportunity for her clients to connect with and remember their higher/divine self through the breath and being present with and for themselves during their healing session. She believes that this connection is a tool they can then take with them to use whenever needed. One of her goals with her practice is to support and empower the client into alignment toward healing by transforming their energy and their consciousness and learning to live from a place that is inherently more whole, joyful and fulfilling. She believes - to quote her favorite poet, Rumi: “The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are.”
Throughout her journey Molly says an important lesson in her healing journey has been learning how to listen: “Sometimes, we just need to be seen and heard. I enjoy helping others find help and giving them a sense of helping themselves- teaching empowerment on some level. The ultimate goal is self-empowerment and self-love. I am just a tool to that purpose”.
In her personal time Molly loves spending time with her teenage daughter, connecting with Mother Nature, practicing yoga, Pilates and the art of dance, playing the piano, creating in general, sticking her nose in a good book, the never-ending journey of learning and exploring, laughing and spending time with dear friends and family.
Molly is so grateful to be practicing what she loves to do as her profession.
Julia is a Power Pilates certified instructor and taught studio classes and private sessions in Austin for 8 years before moving to Lawrence.
Julia's intention is to create an environment where students can connect with their bodies, learn to move with intention, improve posture, and increase energy levels overall. Julia's classes are a supportive and fun environment, but you will feel your muscles working and strengthening! Pilates (or core work) is very effective for toning and lengthening while being gentle on the joints. Julia wants everyone to feel very welcome even if they are brand-new beginners and she offers modifications for all levels.
Meg Lyles has been a school social worker for over 20 years. She has been practicing yoga just as long. She is surrounded by teens all day at work, and is also surrounded by them at home- she just can’t get enough of them!. Meg completed her 200 hour teacher training through Om Tree in 2023. She is passionate about promoting wellness and providing people with tools that can be used in all areas of life.