Meet Your Teachers
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.
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.
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.
Amie has always found play in movement and was a competitive athlete as a child. When she found yoga in her teens she immediately felt like she found a piece that had been missing-uniting body, breath, and soul. Amie began leading movement classes which led to intensely studying yoga, yoga philosophy, and ayurveda while finishing her M.A. in Clinical Psychology. She completed her first teacher training and never looked back. In the 15 years since Amie's first yoga teacher certification, she has continued studying yoga, ayurveda, and energy work. Amie has also completed a 300-hour teacher training in Iyengar and Bhakti Yoga in 2015 and a 300-hour Advanced Yoga Study teacher training again under Baba Hari Dass' lineage in 2021. Amie has trained and is experienced in level 1 and 2 Reiki, Thai Yoga Massage, Animal Flow and primal movement, 5Rhythms dance, aerial movement, and various yoga styles including pre/postnatal. Continuing her ayurvedic studies and practice, Amie loves working with individuals on meeting their health and wellness goals and offering ayurvedic catering, counseling, and yoga for small retreats and events. When she is not diving deeper into learning more about health, wellness, and healing through yoga and ayurveda, you can find Amie playing on her paddleboard on the lake, biking in the country, spinning in the air, gardening, or on an outdoor adventure with the ones she loves.
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.
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.
Wan Wan Tsai
15 years of ballet and Chinese classical dance led Wanwan to yoga after graduate school.
Wanwan believes yoga, combined with traditional Chinese medicine can make the body stronger and healthier. This has helped her have more balance and “Yang Sheng” in her life.
Wanwan completed her 400 hour senior yoga instructor certification at the Tianjin Gufan Yoga Studio in China in 2015 and her 200 hour Yoga Alliance certification at OmTree Shala in 2016.
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.
Casey Emmerich completed her RYT-500 Teacher training in the Bhaktivana tradition through Gopi Sandal's Yoga with Heart Program. She has been teaching since 2017.
Casey loves teaching, primarily Yin classes, as well as Yin/Yang Flow classes, Yoga Nidra, and meditation. She particularly enjoys Yoga philosophy and incorporates this into her classes, sharing what she has learned with others.
She has also studied with Balarama Chandra, Yogi Charu, Maria Garre, and Edwin Bryant, deepening her studies in yoga philosophy and Ayurveda.