Trailblazer: Leah Cullis
Photos by Clayton Aynesworth Photography
Leah Cullis is a 500-hr cerified Baptiste Yoga teacher and the co-founder and chief expansion officer of Shaktee. Leah has led Yoga on the White House lawn every year since 2009, sharing yoga with over 30,000 children and families as part of a Presidential initiative to encourage healthy and active living! As a teacher and holistic health coach, she infuses vitality and connection into everything she does. Check out our Trailblazer interview with Leah below, and check out her classes at Wanderlust Austin.
WL: What aspects of yoga / meditation / spirituality do you bring into your work?
LC: Before I teach or step onto my mat, I give thanks for the opportunity to live, teach and practice yoga, and I open myself up something bigger than me. My yoga practice is my connection to what is true. My aim as a teacher is to guide others to tune into their bodies and more fully into this moment, and open up to creativity, flow, and connection.
WL: How did you get involved with yoga?
LC: I first started practicing with my mom and sister when I was in high school. I didn't start really living my yoga until my mid-twenties when my body was literally going numb from stress and overworking. The numbness started in my leg, then to my arm, and it wasn't until the right side of my face started to lose feeling that I was forced to listen, which came with a visit to the emergency room and my doctor telling me that I was having a stroke. I had experienced a major neck and back injury early in college through sports, and rather than healing, I ignored my body and shifted all my energy to my work. My body called for me to reconnect and my spirit invited me to live more vibrantly. With that trip to the ER, I woke up and built my foundation with life affirming practices of yoga, meditation and choosing light and expansion. I started practicing 6 times a week and partnering with healers to aid me in reclaiming my body and my life. Yoga saved me, and I'm committed to sharing the light and vitality I've accessed through my own practice. I'm honored to be teaching at Wanderlust Austin alongside my first vinyasa teacher, Anne Marie Kramer, who held space for me during this time in my life. I've been blessed with incredible teachers on my path, especially Baron Baptiste and Jonny Kest, who have taught me to live on the yoga mat of life with a foundation of integrity, love, deep gratitude and daily practice.
WL: What's your favorite pose?
LC: Triangle pose. I love the earthiness in my legs, the energy drawing into my core, the extension of my spine, and then radiating out in all directions. I feel alive and expansive!
WL: What's feeding your Wanderlust today?
LC: I just moved to the DC area, so I'm excited to be exploring all the offerings and creating a new yoga home. I'm also thrilled to be sharing Shaktee, the yoga lifestyle apparel company I've recently co-founded. We synthesize timeless design with universal wisdom on wearable canvases. Shaktee's first seva design is a partnership with an organization close to my heart, Africa Yoga Project (AYP). In Winter 2014 I'll be heading to South Africa to lead a Seva Safari with AYP.
WL: If you could leave one legacy for your community what would it be?
LC: The power in the practice of choosing light. In every moment we have a choice of what energy we expand, what impact we have on ourselves and others, and what we contribute in the world. If I could offer one legacy to my community from what I've accessed through my practice, it is to choose light, be light and enjoy the ride.