Finding Health and Wholeness through Niroga's Teacher Training

A Student Reflection by Will Meecham, M.D.

Before entering Niroga's studio for the first time, I knew that yoga means union. But this conceptual knowledge felt no more healing than translating the Spanish word casa into the English, house. Just as naming a home is different from living in one, understanding what yoga means was different from feeling what it does.

Upon walking into Niroga, I knew facts about myself but did not understand my role in the world. A former surgeon who'd left his profession due to neck disease, I felt adrift. A lifelong student of biology, I possessed confidence in my knowledge but lacked faith in my abilities. The collapse of my career had spurred intense mood swings, and for a time I had alternated between crushing depression and ecstatic mania that took the form of profound mystical experience. Severe psychiatric instability had receded years earlier, but I still felt shaken, confused, and saddened.

Those of us, who grow up neglected, abused, or surrounded by turmoil often fail to develop a coherent self-concept. Perhaps we can name our skills, vulnerabilities, and interests, but we have trouble feeling that diverse aspects of personality meld together into a stable, unified person.

By age eleven, I'd gone through a major childhood illness, parental divorce, maternal depression ending in suicide, and numerous relocations. I'd endured multiple forms of abuse at the hands of my stepmother and had watched my sister suffer a psychotic breakdown. All this chaos played out in a family rife with substance abuse, sexual misconduct, and unhappiness.

A year ago, when Niroga invited me to provide anatomy and physiology instruction to yoga teachers-in-training, I still felt burdened by my traumatic past and had trouble finding more than philosophical value in it. Yes, I possessed wide-ranging knowledge about life and living organisms, while my spiritual experiences seemed like vital guideposts. But I felt fearful and demoralized.

BK (Niroga Executive Director, Yoga Teacher, and Yoga Therapist) sensed my insecurity and gently advised me to take the teacher training myself. I hesitated, doubting both my spine and my discipline, and feared both would collapse under the rigor of regular practice. In the end I gave it a try and surprised myself. Not only did my spine hold up, it grew stronger. Not only did my discipline prove sufficient, my capacity to direct behavior toward health increased.

Now, a year later, I find that my spiritual yearnings, biomedical education, and past suffering have melded together. I see them from a wider perspective, and I realize that overcoming hardship blesses me with the opportunity to guide others.

Niroga led me to a more mature appreciation of who I am and what I can offer the world. It unified my sense of my upbringing, my injuries, and my abilities. The well-designed program, wise instructors, and loving community worked together, leading me toward wholeness. Our Niroga family taught me that yoga doesn't merely imply union; it creates it.