I’m Leah Cullis, And This Is How I Yoga
Leah Cullis is passionate about inspiring yoga, health, and wellness in the world. As a celebrated yoga teacher and holistic health coach, she synthesizes ancient practices and principles of yoga and wellness, and makes them accessible for life today.
Leah is an Allstar teacher with DOYOUYOGA, where she’s created the Ultimate Guide to Power Yoga, and the free 14-day Power Yoga Challenge. She is a senior Baptiste Power Yoga Teacher, 500-hour E-RYT, and has worked alongside her teacher, world-renowned yogi and author Baron Baptiste, since 2009—designing and delivering transformational Baptiste Yoga programs.
Leah had the honor of leading the White House Yoga Garden and a team of recognized teachers at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll from 2009 through 2016 as part of a presidential initiative encouraging healthy and active living among children and families. She leads classes and trainings in Austin, TX.
Name: Leah Cullis
Occupation: Yoga Teacher and Holistic Health Coach
Location: Austin, TX
Favorite yoga style: Power Yoga
Yoga is… connection.
What Do You Love Most About Yoga?
What I love most about yoga is that there is always something new to learn and explore. I’m always developing new awareness and making connections within, and I get to carry my learning into every other part of my life. My yoga practice allows to be an continuous student, and encourages me to be curious and purposeful.
How Has Yoga Changed Your Life, Personality And Physique?
My practice helps me to stay grounded in gratitude and the present moment. I’m a recovering workaholic, and I used to spend so much time planning for the future and for what could happen. As a result, I was filled with anxiety.
Yoga reminds me that right now is when life happens.
When I’m present and not worried about what’s next, I get to choose to be grateful, joyful and relaxed with what’s happening right now. This has changed so much about my life, but it has shown up the most in my relationships.
What Everyday Things Did You Get Better At Because Of Yoga?
Yoga has taught me to be present and really with others. I am a much better partner, friend and family member because of yoga. I used to let my career consume the rest of my life, and I was so busy being busy that I let my relationships suffer.
Yoga has helped me forgive what’s happened in the past, and choose to be in loving relationships now—and this includes my relationship with myself. All of this practice of improving and investing in my relationships empowers me to be a better teacher, and has really set me up for my new role of being a mother.
How Do You Keep Your Yoga Practice Interesting And Challenging?
I keep my practice interesting by taking classes and workshops both in person and online. I love experiencing other teachers take on the practice, how they build sequences, and hearing how they guide students and weave in themes. I love trying out new studios, especially when I travel. I also really value my home practice.
How do I keep it challenging? I’m always challenged in my practice to stay with my breath and explore new edges in my body. To me, there’s never a dull moment in my practice because I’m different every time I step onto my mat.
What Book, Website Or Person Inspires You?
I find new inspiration everyday! Today I’m inspired by a podcast I just listened to with Elena Brower about her new journal. I’m inspired by how she’s combined yoga, art reflection, and her very personal tools and practices into an offering to empower others.
I’m inspired by my friend Paige Elenson, who received the Muhammed Ali Humanitarian award just recently for her work creating jobs and community in Africa with the Africa Yoga Project, an organization she co-created with and my teacher, Baron Baptiste. They share free yoga classes with over 6000 people every week across Africa, and employ over 200 yoga people who earn a living wage.
I’m inspired by the over 200 NFL players who chose to take a knee and stand-up for what they believe in and exercise their rights. I’m inspired daily by my man and my daughter. They bring so much love and joy into my life. Because of them, I am inspired to be my most loving, creative, and best self everyday.
Which Yoga Pose Challenges You the Most?
Right now Wheel and backbends are challenging for me. I’m a new mom and have spent a lot of time with my shoulders forward carrying my babe, so opening up my chest and front body feels challenging in a whole new way.
What are Your Go-To Yoga Poses When You’re Stressed or In Need of an Energy Boost?
When I’m stressed I take a long Child’s pose. I rest my head on the earth to ground my energy, I tune into my breath, and I stay for a few minutes. Sometimes I’ll turn my palms to the sky, or bend my elbows and bring my hands into prayer.
This simple pose has been where I’ve experienced some of my most transformational moments on my mat. I use it often in my practice, and when I’m feeling stressed, or when I’ve had a long day. Child’s pose helps me to get into my breath and get out of my head.
What Do You Listen To When You Practice Yoga?
I listen to Spotify mixes all day long. I’m always collecting music to put into new playlists, and I love mixing in the old with the new. Some of my favorite artists lately are Alabama Shakes, Leon Bridges, DJ Drez, Sol Rising, Trevor Hall, Van Morrison, Sam Cooke. I live in Austin, TX so music is a huge part of the culture here, and a big part of my practice and my public classes.
What’s The Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?
I called my teacher once looking for advice. I was feeling pulled and overwhelmed in my life, I had sensed some big changes were coming, and my mind was working in overdrive. I told him that I could only calm my mind and get through my practice by setting my drishti at the floor. He said, “Leah, look up.”
Look up! It’s so simple, and a reminder that I always have the power to see things in a different way. It can be easy to get caught up in all the details and minutia of life. When we look up, we get a whole new perspective and more space, even when we are standing in the same place.
It’s our perspective, the way we see things, that can feel heavy and limiting, and we always have the power to change it.
What’s Your #1 Piece of Advice for Those Just Starting Their Yoga Practice?
There is no one way to practice yoga, and no right way to do any pose. Practice in a way that works for you, leave out what doesn’t work, and find what feels good.
To me, yoga is not about getting it right or following one narrow path. Yoga practice is about applying this ancient system, as well as using tools available today to make a difference right now—no matter your level or ability. Yoga is a practice that empowers you to be and feel your best now.