Meet the Lululemon Global Yoga Ambassador Who Transforms Communities with His Practice

Ryan Leier is well-versed in the power of a consistent yoga practice. The Saskatoon-based Lululemon ambassador has spent the last 15 years translating the ancient practice for youth, yoga fanatics and celebs alike. When he’s not growing his empire of One Yoga studios, which now includes satellite locations in Iceland and Trinidad and Tobago, or reaching more than 4,000 kids with his non-profit Vinyasa Yoga for Youth, Leier’s on the road leading retreats around the world (up next: Maui).
 

enRoute What got you into yoga in the first place?
 

Ryan Leier Back when I was playing semi-pro basketball in Iceland, I hurt my shoulder pretty badly and turned to yoga to rehab it. As I started practicing, I found it was not only healing my body, but it also dealt with my mind, so I started doing it every day. That off-season, I decided I was going to move home to be closer to my daughter and take up yoga full-time. It’s been 15 years since I first practiced and committed to studying. Yoga has been such a gift to bring me to incredible people in different areas of life.
 

ER Tell us about the vibe at your One Yoga studios.
 

RL I’m trying to take the pretension out of yoga – I want it to be accessible and real. My goal is to make it so that you don’t have to be wealthy or white to practice. Our studio in Vancouver is donation-based, and at the Saskatoon location, I’m hiring as many Indigenous teachers as I can. I’m also exploring classes for people with Parkinson’s and chair yoga.

December 20, 2019
Ryan Leier doing a headstand in front of the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower.   Photo: Ryan Leier

enRoute What are some tips for taking one’s yoga practice on the road?
 

Ryan Leier I used to go to different studios everywhere I travelled, but found the classes were inconsistent, so now I create my own yoga studio just by carrying my mat with me. You don’t need to have incense, candles or yoga music. Try taking a few breaths and doing three or four poses a day — anybody can commit to that. Because travelling can be hard on the body, I consider my yoga practice and drinking a lot of water the most valuable things while I’m away.
 

ER What motivated you to co-found your non-profit, Vinyasa Yoga for Youth?
 

RL The youth suicide rates in northern Saskatchewan are incredibly high — it’s a struggle just being on the planet for some people. Yoga has saved me from really dark depression, so I know it has the power to heal. We’re trying to empower youth to be the best version of themselves. I’m most proud of a few students who have now become the teachers — it’s kind of like the “each one, teach one” philosophy. I really believe that we’re just getting started.
 

ER You’re known for your in-class playlists. What artists are currently in the mix?
 

RL Right now, A Tribe Called Red makes me feel good, and I’ve been inspired by Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac and Kanye West. They’ve all been known to make appearances in my playlists. I used to think that hippie music was yoga music, but any music that’s authentic to me can be used in a class.
 

See the yoga essentials stashed in Ryan’s carry-on here.

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