This month we sat down with our very own Dr. Siru Virtanen for an exclusive interview about life, fitness and candies (!)

How did you get into yoga?

Whenever anyone asks me this question it makes me giggle, because funnily enough before my first ever yoga class I strongly believed I wasn’t a yoga-kind-of –a –girl and thought yoga was boring, slow and not a proper workout. I preferred high-energy sports and spent all my free time doing bodypump, bodycombat and salsa dancing.
A friend of mine attended a bikram hot yoga class and I remember her saying that she never had sweated as much in her life and felt so amazing after. This stayed in my mind for one year and then one random day I decided I want to try this hot yoga stuff too and marched to Jen&Theo’s studio in Cambridge. The feeling of being completely cleansed by the effort and the sweat got me hooked straight away after my very first class. With my intro offer I went to as many classes as possible and then signed up for membership. I started attending classes 6 times a week and went to as many workshops and retreats I possibly could and was lucky enough to learn with some really great, inspirational teachers. Since then then I have practiced several styles of yoga, but bikram yoga/detox26 is always my first and strongest love. My passion for this yoga is based on the results I see in myself and in my students physically, mentally and emotionally. In addition to the occasional TRX, yoga is my only form of exercise and I never in my life felt better not only in my fitness but sharpness and focused mind.

Most challenging pose for you and why?

This changes from time to time, but currently it is (bikram/detox26) Triangle. I have flexible hips, but I need more strength on my thighs to build a stable, strong posture. This is the beauty of yoga –building the perfect balance of strength and flexibility in the whole body, and there is always something new to work on and to discover.

Top yoga tip?

The posture you hate is the posture you need the most. Never skip it –instead try even harder. Remember to always try 100% the right way, even if that means you are doing only 1% of the posture, it still means you are doing it and this is how you get the best benefits. Most importantly remember every day is different, keep an open mind. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey.

Favourite SOMA class?

It has to be Hot Detox 26 –but that’s what I love about SOMA, there is so much to choose depending what your body or mind needs on a specific day. I also really love Elementals FIRE yoga and recommend everyone to try TRX Yoga Core – it’s great support for your yoga practice.

My masters in medical sciences and PhD in oncology has given me in depth knowledge of human body, anatomy and physiology.

Dr. Siru Virtanen

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Sweets –I used to have a real addiction to all sort of candies, but weirdly enough hot yoga helped with this too, my body (or mind) doesn’t crave them anymore. But during Christmas breaks –hello sweets! Horrible, I know.

How does your science background inform your yoga practice?

My masters in medical sciences and PhD in oncology (cancer research) has given me in depth knowledge of human body –anatomy and physiology and I apply this knowledge in several different ways in my own practice. I had a thyroid cancer scare myself 2 years ago and it was interesting to see how yoga practice helped my recovery from the surgery and kept my mind calm. I think my years of working in the lab as a meticulous cancer scientist probably makes me to think about the postures in very analytical way and I bring this precious to my practice and it also helps me in guiding my students.

Reveal your top yoga teacher pet peeve

hmmmm….do I have one? Ok, perhaps being late. Funnily this is something I also sometimes struggle with as I am often late with everything (except teaching)! And I guess we get annoyed with things that we find annoying in ourselves, but mostly this is my pet peeve because I feel bad that the student won’t have a good class if they are late and have to rush in. The class is not for me, the class is for the students, and I hope they can have the best possible class every time. Coming late can be distracting to yourself, to others, and also lead to injury if you miss some important warm up postures. Peek in before you come in and find yourself a spot quickly, but even better: leave few minutes earlier (*working on this too!)

I look forward to seeing you in classes and practicing with you at SOMA!