Sound Healing x Yin Workshop

Time for Rejuvenation.

Sunday 29 July, 4:45pm

Elementals Sound Healing x Yin Workshop

Experience an intense rejuvenation practice as Hassan leads you through a special Elementals Space yin practice while listening to live sound vibrations from crystal bowl therapy. Shown to balance and de-stress the mind, body and soul.

He will be joined by Selda Soul who specialises in crystal bowl sound therapy, meditation and light therapy.

WHAT ARE CRYSTALS?

Crystals are fossilised water, formed when water combines with an element under certain conditions of pressure, temperature and energy. Silica sand, combined with water becomes quartz crystal. Quartz crystals have many physical properties. They amplify, transform, store, focus, and transfer energy.
Our bodies, too, are crystalline in structure. When working with crystals, there may be profound effects on the organs, tissues, and cells, as well as the circulatory, endocrine, and metabolic systems.

WHAT ARE ALCHEMY CRYSTAL BOWLS?

The Alchemy crystal singing bowls are made from 99.992% pure crushed quartz and heated to about 4000 degrees F in a centrifugal mold. They are then infused with gemstones and precious metals, creating the ‘alchemy’. Each bowl has a variety of effects; clearing, activating, restructuring, rebalancing and healing.

Alchemy bowls emit a pure, cosmic sound that expands into a multitude of vibrant overtones. Through sound, vibration and intent they assist in clearing blockages, rewiring brain chemistry, activating chakras and elevating our state of consciousness to ever more refined levels.


Meet SOMA Coach - Dr. Vanessa Michielon

Curious what yoga poses even your yoga teacher has difficulty with? Read on.

Many of you love Vanessa’s classes and her precise attention to detail as well as her always impressive postures which make even the hardest ones look easy. You may not know that she also holds a PhD where she defined a new paradigm called “performative museum”, looking at how adopting Natural User Interfaces in Museum exhibitions is shaping the way we learn as physically engaged visitors.

We took some time out and sat down with her to learn more about how she got into yoga, her pet peeves when it comes to teaching and what postures even she needs to overcome.

How did you start yoga?

I came to Yoga through Contemporary Dance and Somatic Practices, as 10 years ago I was lucky enough to train with teachers, who would naturally integrate Asanas and Mindfulness in their classes and workshops. Still today, I experience Yoga and Dance as deeply connected, and the mat often feels like a restriction to me.

What does yoga mean to you?

Yoga is for me a practice to achieve enhanced physical and mental clarity, and a body of knowledge to understand myself on many different levels. What probably attracts me the most, is that really there is so much to learn and to relate to.

What is your favourite Element to teach and why?

Fire, I love moving around in space and practice partner work.

What is your most challenging yoga pose and why?

I am personally focusing on winning my fear of inversions at the moment, so I am enjoying practicing Pincha Mayurasana and transitioning smoothly in other poses.

Teacher pet peeve?

I tend to be very understanding in general, but I can’t tolerate if someone is rude to other students.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Coffee, no matter what science says about it, I will not give up my Espresso.

If you could only give yoga students one tip, what would it be?

If I have to choose one, I would borrow Bernie Clark’s words: don’t use your body to get into the pose, but use the pose to get into your body. So, look at poses as tools, not end goals, and you will let go of a good amount of useless self-judgment and pressure, and discover something much more precious.

What is your dance background?

I started dancing at the age of 4 and never stopped, shifting more and more from Ballet to Contemporary Dance and Somatic Practices about 8 years ago. In 2014 I moved to UK to attend a Master in Dance Performance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, where I toured with Transitions Dance Company, and later I started freelancing, especially in durational performances in museums and galleries, and creating works with smaller independent companies. As a natural consequence of my studies, in the past 10 years I have been focusing a lot on the integration of Digital Technologies and Dance, both as a performer and as a researcher.

What were you doing before becoming a teacher?

Before moving to UK, I used to work in University on various projects, and thanks to this very flexible job, I would have enough time to dance and teach as well on the side. Commuting time was not as in London: I would move from the barre to my desk in 10 minutes!

5 Ways To Excel Your 30 Day Challenge

Over 60 SOMA members have already joined the Official Spring Challenge 2018, and we’re only on day 2. The Challenge goes from Monday, 23 of April till Wednesday, 23 of May. Our goal: take a minimum of 30 classes by 23rd of May. This is for fellow challengers (hello there!) and for those of you who are still thinking if this craziness would be possible.

1. PLAN IT

Preparation is the key for the Challenge. Look at the class schedule, add the classes you plan on taking to your calendar. For me, if it’s not on my calendar, it won’t happen. Give yourself a visual reminder of your daily commitment to your 30 day Challenge. Take note of any other commitments you have over the 30 days which might make you to skip a day and plan doubles for those weeks. Aim to do 7 classes a week (minimum) so you don’t get too far behind. The weeks you are feeling strong do more so you have some buffer for any days you might miss a class when life happens (or a bank holiday!).

Pack your bag for both SOMA and work the night before with everything you need: toiletries, change of undies, a snack and your water bottle for class. It takes little  extra time each night, but it will save you precious minutes in the morning and eliminated a way to talk yourself out of not going to class.

Finally be kind to yourself. This is a tough challenge. Postpone some work and social commitments and take life back to basics over the next four weeks. Fully cherish this time you are giving investing back in yourself.

2.  HYDRATE EAT REST

Water. Water. Water… and some electrolytes. This tip is especially for the Hot Yoga challengers. Up your water intake during the Challenge so you won’t dehydrate your body. It is important to drink water throughout the entire day before and after your practice. Gulping water between poses will not help you much and might make the class even more difficult as your stomach will be full. Try to drink at least 2,5-4 litres of water before the class and stop drinking excessively 1-2 hours before the class. As we sweat a lot it is important to replenishing any lost sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Add an electrolyte sachets/tablet to your  water or follow my trick to add a pinch of pink Himalayan salt and lemon in warm water — cheap DIY electrolyte drink (and makes the hydration tasty). On days you need extra boost add some honey to that drink. Hydration isn’t a choice, it’s a must. As a bonus you might get a pure glowing skin (to match you 30 day challenge smile).

Diet. Your body is pushed during the challenge so make sure you enjoy a balanced diet with protein, fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates. Up your protein intake and snack on nuts and seeds. As a general guideline you should try not to eat anything substantial two hours prior to your hot class. If you need to eat, stick to a piece of fruit or other small non-salty snack.

Rest. To help muscles recover make sure you rest and sleep enough. Spoil your hard-working body with Epsom salt bath end of each completed week (magic to aching muscles). 

3. EXPERIMENT

You will feel different each day. Your body will react differently every day, Therefore be flexible and experiment with classes and times you practice if you can. See what is  the best time to practise as it may vary. Maybe it will be easier to get an early morning class or perhaps later evening class will suit some days allowing you to go straight to bed after your hard work.

Try different classes. We are lucky at SOMA to have such a big range of classes and teachers to choose from. Become a ballerina a day or a fierce cyclist. Stretch and strengthen in different yoga classes if you have not done that yet. 

Balance and mix it up. When doing doubles for some of us yoga after TRX might be a good combo and you might find yourself going deeper to postures mentally and physically. For some of us the body heat produced at TRX might be too much for a hot yoga class after and yoga-trx combo might work better for example. Try different combos and see what suits you best. My tactic is to give the body 1 day rest so I do minimum 7 classes in 6 days and have one day rest. Yours might be different. Test it out, see what feels good. And if you have the chance go for yoga elementals SPACE class on Sundays! Your body will need the nurturing yin type yoga to balance all your active yang classes.

4. GET SUPPORT

Announce it. Tell the word that you are doing the challenge. It won’t only allow you to stick with it and making pulling out less likely, but your friends and family will be incredible aid to help you through. They will hopefully cheer you on, want to hear all your stories and maybe even help out with groceries, child care, you name it so you can take your class.

Your SOMA Community will be in integral part of the challenge experience. We will share the experience together, congratulate each other and push on as a community.  You should also mention to your teacher that you are one of the challengers -we teachers can give you really important advices that you might not normally get day in day out. The whole SOMA team is here to give you support and encouragement when you need it!

Join on the sociable vibe and stay engaged with challenge posts, daily pics and inspiring quotes (add hyperlinks).  The Interactive Leaderboard will keep an eye out for all the latest and greatest posts (make sure you tag #somachallenge and/or #somahouse for it go live).

5. JUST DO IT

Going a full circle to my point #1 -be prepared, but be also  ready to be unprepared. Many  surprising physical, mental  things and emotions might come up during the 30 days. In the end it is  a mind game. Take it day by day rather than getting too overwhelmed with 30 days. It is going to be incredible experience that you will  cherish. Just do it.

See you in the mat and my classes and let’s give each other a high five or a secret wink fellow challengers! We got this.

Follow my 30 days challenge on Instagram siru_yoga.

Psst!.. Stay tuned for Challenge update half way through.


SOMA Coaches Share Healthy Recipes

SOMA Coaches Share Healthy Recipes

Feeling like you need a little inspiration in the kitchen this spring? We asked three of our hot yoga divas to share their favourite vegetarian and vegan recipes and this is what they said. From savoury to passionately sweet, we’ve got three new ones for you to try.

Marianna’s favourite vegan chocolate hazelnut spread

Marianna admits that chocolate is one of her guilty pleasures so shares this rich, vegan alternative to your typical sinful dessert. This raw vegan chocolate hazelnut spread tastes like Nutella without all of the dairy and refined sugar.

 

 

Recipe

Siru's avocado mint cream bars
Siru’s avocado mint cream bars

Siru’s avocado mint cream bars – just, yum!

Gluten free, vegan and healthy – well, let’s go. These creamy treats have the healthy fats of avocados and the minty freshness to fit the spring weather. For those who love mint chocolate chip, these are to die for.

Recipe

Vanessa’s savoury brunch treat – Ottolenghi’s Torta Pasqualina

The famous vegetarian bistro is just around the corner from our studio and a great place to head after a workout or hot yoga class. We’ve spotted other SOMA members there on the weekend along with our other weekend warriors!

This savoury pie keeps well, so it’s a great dish to have in the fridge over the Easter weekend. If you can’t get chard, use spinach or another green. Serves six to eight.

Recipe


St Paddy's Day Smoothie - Filling like Guiness only it's good for you.

It’s St. Paddy’s Day 🍀

Trade in the post-workout beer for our Muscle Power Superfoods Shake. The super strong protein shake to recover from a hard workout (or late night!).

There’s nothing better after a hard workout then a creamy smoothie full of nutrients and muscle-building power.

Our nutritionists designed our Muscle Power shake to give you that recovery edge to stay strong. Students have rated it as the best protein shake in London.

It includes two high quality vegan proteins, three energising superfoods and peanut butter. And unlike most other places, we use high quality unprocessed raw peanut butter.

It has no added sweetners or sugars so just raw goodness!

What classes is this smoothie best for?

Great after double classes, cycling or TRX. Your SOMA Coaches Theo, Asaf, Rory and Marianna regularly have this for lunch or post-class.

Can I use it as a meal replacer?

Yes, as it has essential nutrients for days when you are on the go or prefer to have a lighter meal that is easy to digest.


New to Hot Yoga? Everything you need to know before your first Hot Yoga class.

Jennifer Hersch tells you everything you need to know before your first Hot Yoga class.

Over the years, I learned some useful tips both as a teacher and student. I’ve been in the hottest studios, I’ve practiced with few people up to 500 people in class, experienced every kind of heat, worked through injuries and different practices in the heat.

Let’s face it. Your first hot yoga class can feel intimidating. Even every hot yoga teacher remembers his or her first experience. I remember mine in a small Bikram studio in SoHo, New York City. I climbed the winding stairs to find a small, carpeted room with no windows and intense heat. My only memory of the whole class is seeing black in camel. And then that amazing feeling after class where I couldn’t wait to try it again.

Twenty years later, and I’m still at it.

However, I know the first class can feel intimidating and we all worry about what others will think. The beauty of hot yoga is that no one cares. It’s like giving birth. Everyone is just focused on getting through the class that they don’t care what they look like or those around them.

Below I answered the typical questions we get from new students. Take a read, relax and don’t worry. It will all be fine.

How do I know which class to take?

Hot Detox 26 (Bikram): This is recommended for students with little yoga experience who prefer moving slowly through poses without a lot of continual movement. It’s for beginner to advanced students (I’ve done it for 20 years), but since it is a more static practice it makes it easier for newbies to catch on to postures while getting used to the heat.

It’s also great for students with upper body or wrist injuries since we don’t do postures on the arms. Likewise, the series can help students with knee injuries.

Done by many athletes for cross-training.

Elementals Earth: Great first hot flow to try if new to Elementals or flow in general. It’s a  slow hot flow class designed for students who need activation of muscles, release of neck tension and core strength. Of our flows, it is the best to start with if you are new to hot flow as it moves slower than Fire or Water. Set sequence changes every term. All levels.

Elementals Water: This is for students who love to flow as we work in circular movements to heal the body through more spiral moves. We have many signature yoga moves we do in this series which you can pick-up over time. A definite try for hot flow lovers. If you are new to hot yoga, start with Earth and Hot Detox then give this a go.

Elementals Fire: An intense hot flow that incorporates Pilates core strengthening. It moves quicker so may feel slightly tricky if new to hot yoga. We also work with the barre as a yoga prop to go deeper into backbends and flexibility training. All levels, but newbies may want to do the other classes first then move on to this one. Great for those who need core strength and want to work on inversions and backhanding.

Elementals Space (Yin)This class is more about meditation and finding relaxation as we work deep into more yin-like poses. The room is warm, but not hot and you use yoga bolsters on the floor the whole time. It’s for days when you just want to tune-out and relax.

How do I prepare for class and what should I bring?

Hydrate. Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day including electrolytes. This means you come to class prepared to sweat.

Avoid eating 2-3 hours before class. Make sure you eat earlier in the day, but you don’t want a full stomach for class as this can make you feel sick during the class. Clean foods and liquids.

Electrolyte tablets in water. Newbies can put electrolyte tablets in their water for class as this helps with hydration. If you find you get headaches or dizzy in class, often it’s because your electrolytes are low due to sweat. This is often true with strong guys who sweat a lot. Nuun tablets are good as they are all natural.

Water. Bring large chilled water bottle/s. You will want enough to drink in class and possible splash over your face during class.

What should I wear?

You will sweat like never before, so think swimsuit material. Men typical wear shorts or bathing suit. Newbies often come with a shirt but then realise you want to take it off during class. If you really want a top then make sure it’s breathable.

Women often wear lightweight leggings or shorts, a sports bra or light tank.

Which class is best for shoulder, wrist, arm injuries?

Hot Detox 26 is the best for anyone who cannot bear weight on their arms or wrists given we don’t do typical yoga poses like downward dog, chattarunga, vinyasas or arm balances.

Which class is best for knee injuries?

The Hot Detox is probably the best for most knee injuries. The series was originally put together by a yoga guru to heal his students knees. Always tell your teacher if you have issues and they can give you modifications.

You can take the Elementals Flow classes too, but may need to pad your mat for knee lunges and tell your teacher for other modification.

Which class is best for complete beginners?

It depends on whether you like to flow or prefer a more static practice where we move slowly from one pose to another. Hot Detox 26 is usually the best for complete beginners as we hold each posture for a period of time and then slowly transition into the next one. You don’t need to worry about a fast moving class where you have to catch continual movement.

Elementals Earth is also good for beginners as it’s a slow hot flow. We do flow between movements but it’s not a faster tempo like Elementals Water or Fire.

If you are looking for more of a yin-type class that is more meditation and relaxation based, try Elementals Space.

The idea is to begin with a practice like Hot Detox and then slowly move into the Elementals Flow classes given they are designed to complement each other.

How many classes should I take a week?

This depends on your goals. The more classes you do in the beginning, the quicker your body gets used to the heat and you see faster progress. This means at least 3x a week.

If you are doing other classes at SOMA and integrating hot yoga intro your training plan, aim for 2-3 classes a week.

And to really dedicate yourself to what transformation hot yoga can give you physically and mentally, try 4-6x a week.

I get headaches after class. What is this from?

It usually means you have not hydrated well enough. This means water and replaced electrolytes. Make sure to drink during the day before class and after class. Newbies often need water during class too.

Sometimes it also comes from your initial detoxification. When the body starts to detox through intense sweat and yoga poses meant to purify the systems of the body, you can get headaches in the first month or so.


Term Week 5: Interval Training

Our Cycling, TRX and Barre clubs have made it through the first 4 week round and get ready to kick off the next 4 weeks with high intensity intervals. Serious athletes use interval training—alternating periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods—to get more results in less time.

Four Scientific Benefits of Interval Training

1. High burn rate of calories during and after a workout
2. Boosts your endurance so you can better sustain long training efforts
3. Increases VO2 Max Potential
4. Good for your heart as it increases flexibility and elasticity of arteries and veins


Tips for Tight Shoulders from SOMA Expert, Marianna

Tips for Tight Shoulders from SOMA Expert, Marianna

What problems can a student experience with tight shoulders?

Difficulties with main basic movements of the shoulder girdle (shoulder joint): Anterior Tilt, Elevation, Depression, Abductions, Adduction, Rotation. These movements help the arm to elevate properly in front of our body, to the side and so forth. When we experience poor movement in the shoulder we then overwork muscles in the neck resulting in pain.
We also overcompensate the back muscles resulting in a rounded spine shape with shoulders rotated forward, have poor breathing and difficulties opening up the chest and expanding the lungs properly.

What causes tight shoulders?

It can be from old injuries or due to lifestyle if we work long hours in the office sitting or after an emotional trauma that led us to close ourselves off. This commonly leads to rounded shoulders and people unconsciously closing the chest to protect themselves.
An increase in anxiety and depression often stems from our inability to take in enough oxygen due to this tightness as our lungs  are unable to expand enough.
I find it interesting what happens physically in the body with tight shoulders.
When we overwork the shoulders we overextend and overwork the romboid muscles and tighten the pectoral muscles. This causes pain and discomfort in the back, creates bad posture and compression of the vertebrae.

If not corrected, what problems can happen?

  • Kyphosis – hunchback
  • Stiff neck leading to migraines and difficulties to sleep
  • Bad blood circulation
  • Increase of anxiety and more prone to depression
  • Bad posture and back pain

During Water, the circular movements of the spine and arms challenge the shoulder girdle's natural movements creating space in the chest and spine.

Marianna, SOMA Coach

What are your own experiences with tight shoulders and how have you corrected it? how do you feel differently now?

I remember my first yoga class 7 years ago and being told by the teacher, “never look down in life”!  I tried to look up and I couldn’t.  At the age of 19, I moved to London worked long office hours. I was going through some sad times and I guess my body showed my feelings. And my lifestyle of sitting on a chair at a computer for 10 hours a day didn’t help either.
During that yoga class, that teacher’s comment made me realise how bad my posture was and automatically my view of life. I tried to look up and adjust my posture to a more upright position but my muscles where so weak that with my stiff neck and shoulders my back couldn’t cope.  My lower back became damaged by trapping my sciatica nerve leaving me in and out of bed for 6 months.
At that point I felt really self conscious of my body so I started attending Hot Yoga Flow for two nights a week with the hope it could get better.
At first I wasn’t able to lift my arms properly or touch my toes in a fold but I didn’t care. I took it slowly. Sometimes I had to stop and take child’s pose for a rest.  Without realising it, this even helped my body relax to the point that my back felt better each time.
I slowly took back control of my body and posture but my neck and shoulders were still tight. So I created a routine that I still use every morning: 1) child’s pose after gently assisting myself up from bed and 2) the back stretch I show in the video.
After a few months, I felt like a new person. The weight of the world finally was off my shoulders.  My posture and confidence improved and my panic attacks and anxiety started to subside.
Now after 7 years of working on it, I gained flexibility but still need to give extra attention to shoulders and neck.

What posture are you showing?

Supported fish pose, it’s a Yin variation of the pose and allows us to relax and sink into the the stretch using the breathe as a tool to relax. It allows the shoulders and neck to become heavy so that they stretch themselves naturally without straining or forcing the stretch.

Which classes/moves in SOMA classes help tight shoulders?

Elementals Earth and Water are really good for shoulders and neck issues.
In Earth, we relax the neck and strengthen the rhomboids. The back exercises also strengthen muscles to hold the shoulder blades in place easier.
During Water, the circular movements of the spine and arms challenge the shoulder girdle’s natural movements creating space in the chest and spine. It helps improve the circulation of the blood in the spine and helps with mobility of the spine, shoulders and arms.


Barre Leg Workout: The Ballet Jump vs. Fitness Jump

Barre Leg Workout: The Ballet Jump vs. Fitness Jump

Students often ask how to get dancer legs: those long, lean defined muscles that allow for power, speed and grace.

The key is to learn how a dancer’s leg workout differs from your typical gym leg workout. I am passionate about educating people that a dancer’s workout  provides an alternative to regular HIIT.

The fitness industry convinces people that the only way to get a “good workout” is to lift weights and do bootcamp classes with such equipment as kettle bells. They are based on a military style so build the body in that way.

For women who want a more feminine body or men who need to cross-train and balance leg muscles, they need barre. I created barre classes that give you a killer workout without bulking muscles.

Here are barre tips to use in your normal fitness regime. It is used by our members who are weight lifters, do CrossFit, runners, cyclists, hot yogis and dancers as well.

Tip 1: Plié rather than Squat – Protect and strengthen lower back while working gluts and inner thighs

A typical gym squat is done in parallel position and the bum sticks out to the back. In a plié, the body is kept upright, with the core engaged. You work all back muscles to elongate the spine. The legs are turned out which means instead of primarily working the quads, you work the adductors and external rotators under your bum as well as open hips. A plié is a whole body sculpting exercise – legs, back, core – for lengthening muscles rather than bulking.

Tip 2: Straighten Your Legs in Jumps – Prevents bulky legs

Think of your typical gym box jump or Cross-Fit type jumps where knees are kept bent. Or a jumping jack with knees bent. The legs never have to straighten which means the muscles are not elongated.

In ballet and our barre classes, we demand strength in the legs through muscle elongation. This means that students power through the legs to achieve a moment when both legs are straight in the air. This constant repetition of power from plie into straight leg jumps in the air shapes leg muscles like in the video.

 The key is to learn how a dancer's leg workout differs from your typical gym leg workout. I am passionate about educating people that a dancer's workout  provides an alternative to regular HIIT.

Jennifer, SOMA Founder & Coach

Tip 3: Roll through the Feet in Jumps – Protects joints and tones legs

Fitness jumps are done with trainers on and people land on the whole foot. You’re doing this if you hear yourself land. In ballet, no shoes are worn and students must learn to roll through the feet. When you push off the floor for a jump, use the ball of the foot against the floor to power your body in the air.

When you land, think “toe, ball, heel” catching yourself like a car spring. This is like a BMW spring rather than a Ford Escort shock absorber for your joints.

Notice on the video, the soft landing each time.

Tip 4: Point the toes – Works the whole body and strengthens ankles for athletes

In a ballet jump, point the toes in the air. It looks it’s only the foot, but it involves the entire leg and body. To properly point the foot, the dancer extends the whole body towards the ceiling and points the foot in the opposite direction so the body is like a stretched rubber band.

You then work the back, the core and legs. Don’t simply curl the toes under.

In summary, 1) plié with bum underneath you engaging core muscles and lengthening spine, 2) jump in the air and make sure the legs are straight and feet pointed, 3) land softly “toe, ball, heel” to protect the joints.


SOMA expert: Dr. Siru Virtanen

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!