Ullman was born in Berlin in 1907. She was intending to be a painter but at the suggestion of her father she studied dance at the Berlin Laban School which was run by Hertha Feist. There she joined the movement choir and heard Rudolf Laban talk., graduating in 1929. She taught in Nuremberg and at the Essen Folkwang School, where she worked for Kurt Jooss. She left Nazi Germany in 1933 and went to England with Jooss and his company. In 1935 she established at Plymouth the first movement choir in the country, under the auspices of the Workers' Educational Association. She taught at Dartington Hall until 1940, lectured regularly and choreographed extensively. Rudolf Laban also left for Britain, and for twenty years (1938–58) Ullmann was his long-term partner and the main collaborator in his dance work. She was cofounder of the Laban Art of Movement Guild in 1945, now known as The Laban Guild for Movement and Dance. In 1946 she also cofounded the Art of Movement Studio in Manchester, which became the centre for educational dance in England. The curriculum was based on Laban's space harmonies and his theories of the exploration of expressive movement through effort patterns. She was also responsible for revising several books written by Laban and for cataloguing the Laban Archives. She was still teaching up until the year of her death, imparting her expert knowledge of Laban's theories in courses run by LInC (Laban International Courses).
There is a Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship Fund (Registered Charity No: 297684). Set up 1987, this fund awards travel scholarships with the aim of "Supporting individual journeys in movement and dance".