Tom Harper: OmTree Shala owner brings yoga studio to new home at Sunflower (Column)

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Sharyn Harley’s OmTree Shala yoga studio has been a fixture in Lawrence since 2012. She was excited to share the new digs and vision of OmTree at Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop, 804 Massachusetts St.

Harley’s newly created role at the shop is multi-layered. When asked what her job title is, she smiled with confidence: “Hospitality and Wellness Manager.” Harley is currently managing the bustling cafe and shop events and moving her yoga studio this week. 

The wellness part of her role will partly be fulfilled by the yoga studio, which will help promote the new mission of Sunflower: “Getting people outdoors and looking inward.” 

Sharyn Harley

Harley said she and Sunflower owner Matt Gilhousen have been talking about this on and off for years.

“Everything aligned this fall to look at it again,” Harley said.

Along with Dan Hughes — partner and general manager of Sunflower — they created a team to expand the focus of the shop.

“We want Sunflower to be the third place for people — people have their home and work, and we’d like to be the third place where they meet up with community and get their social needs met,” Gilhousen said. 

The yoga studio will operate like the pre-pandemic studio at the original location, at 1405 Massachusetts St. There will be yoga and Pilates classes along with opportunities to meet with trainers and other activities. 

Additions to the studio include two showers with bathrooms, lockers (bring your own lock) and new props.

The yoga space is located on the second floor on the south side. It is an expansive space, with a tall ceiling and floor space that stretches about 30 feet with three monumental, original floor-to-ceiling windows facing Massachusetts Street.

Tom Harper/Lawrence Times The view of Mass Street from OmTree at Sunflower

New, wide plank oak flooring and adjustable lighting have been installed. There will be space for up to 35 people to practice.

The familiar team of teachers will migrate to OmTree Sunflower.

Tom Harper/Lawrence Times New, wide plank oak flooring and adjustable lighting have been installed for OmTree at Sunflower.

I asked Harley about those who will miss the cozy space at 1405 Massachusetts St.

“We deserved a little more space to be in community. A class would end, and the next class would be ushered in,” she said. “We will now have time before and after class to be with each other, perhaps enjoying healthy food and drink together.” 

Harley reminded me that two-hour meter parking is available on New Hampshire Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. She also recommends downloading the city’s mobile parking app

Downtown is the crown jewel of our community. It’s why many of us choose to live in Lawrence. I welcome the opportunity to practice yoga in a building that was rebuilt after Quantrill and his men burned the original building. 

Also, 25 years ago, on this day in 1998, Sunflower celebrated moving back into this Mass Street location one year after a devastating fire. In November 2022, the store celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Thanks to business owners who invest in our downtown by renovating buildings we get to enjoy, as will future generations of Lawrencians.

OmTree at Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop will surely be a “third place” for me.

Tom Harper/Lawrence Times Sharyn Harley, standing, works with Tricia Rock in the new OmTree Shala yoga space upstairs at Sunflower on Saturday.

About the writer

Tom Harper is a Realtor at Stephens Real Estate helping people in Lawrence and Douglas County buy and sell real estate. He is the founder of Lawrence Modern, a group whose mission is to raise awareness of midcentury and modern architecture. You will find him posting frequently on Instagram under @lawrencemodern, sharing his daily observations of his favorite place on earth: Lawrence, Kansas. Read more of Tom’s writing for The Lawrence Times here.

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