OMYA Studio incorporates music into yoga classes for kids, adults

Yoga is usually accompanied by soothing background music, but at OMYA Studio in Northside, that background music is an important aspect of every class.
Co-owners Hollie Nesbitt and Mark Messerly both have musical backgrounds. Nesbitt is a former music teacher, and Messerly is a music teacher at the Cincinnati Gifted Academy and plays in several bands, including Wussy and Messerly and Ewing.
About four years ago, Nesbitt started Little Yoga Sunshine, a yoga program for children. She has taught yoga to Girl Scout troops and church groups; she also used to teach yoga to students at Cincinnati Public School’s after-school program. Over the years, Nesbitt has taught yoga at Wyoming Youth Services, The Women’s Connection, Lighthouse Youth Services, the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Museum Center.
OMYA, which stands for Outreach, Music, Yoga and Arts, offers yoga classes for children, adults, families and those with special needs. “Yoga gets the body moving and helps with concentration and calming down,” says Nesbitt.
Yoga can teach children with autism the skill of stopping with the four “Bs” (brakes, brain, body, breath). It can also help non-ambulatory people with muscle tone and physicality, and those with Down syndrome with strengthening their joints and muscles.

“We offer lots of kid, family and special needs classes, which is something that many yoga studios don’t have,” says Nesbitt.
Messerly doesn’t teach yoga classes, but he’s planning to offer several music classes at OMYA. In the future, he plans to offer an early childhood music class for children with autism and ADHD. He also wants to start a guitar club for beginning and intermediate guitar players and a songwriting class for older children and adults. He’s also in the process of developing a six-week course for kids with autism, a program that doesn’t exist elsewhere.
“It’s always struck me that kids love music, but adults say they can’t carry a tune,” Messerly says. “I want to give music back to people. Not everyone will be a musician, but they should have music in their lives.”
Not only will Messerly teach a few music classes at OMYA, but he has incorporated yoga breathing and movements into the music classes that he teaches at Cincinnati Gifted.
OMYA also has a working relationship with WordPlay, which is housed in the same building as the studio. “We want to do some cross-curriculum work with WordPlay, where kids will write poems or song lyrics and then I’ll teach them how to add music,” Messerly says.
OMYA is right across the street from Yoga-Ah, the yoga studio where Nesbitt learned to teach yoga. She says they do lots of cross-promoting for the studio. “While your child is taking a class at OMYA, you can take one for adults across the street.”
Currently, OMYA offers one or two classes per day, with no classes held on Tuesday. Nesbitt is one of two yoga teachers, and Robyn Holleran, a professional belly dancer, teaches belly dancing classes for girls ages 12 and up; April Eight also teaches Songs of Peace classes. Classes are $10 for adults, $8 for kids and $15 for families.
By Caitlin Koenig
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